1. Introduction: Retroaction, Indeterminacy, and Seeing-in
2. Periods and Other Minds
3. Mink's Riddle of Narrative Truth
4. Resemblance, Substitution, Expression
6. Danto's End of Art
"Chiel van der Akker's 2018 The Exemplifying Past: A Philosophy of History is an ambitious attempt to break new ground in developing a philosophy of history that builds on the ideas of narrative and retroaction central to the earlier work of Arthur Danto, Louis Mink and Frank Ankersmit. It is a book that should be of great interest to all concerned with the philosophical underpinnings and status of historical knowledge and understanding. One of its advantages is having packed a dense and detailed argument into a volume of only 150 pages - a commendable achievement." - David Weberman, Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice (2021)
Chiel van den Akker
The Exemplifying Past
A Philosophy of History
This book addresses a wide range of philosophical problems about history and the semantics of time. The point of departure is the distinction between events under the description of past witnesses and their contemporaries and events under the description of historians. Its main claim is that a thesis on the past is exemplified rather than being justified by the available evidence. Such thesis, the book argues, retroactively becomes concrete in the past under consideration. This book will not only appeal to philosophers and historians, but to students and scholars across the humanities.
Dr. Chiel van den Akker is lecturer Historical Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is the author of Elementaire Deeltjes - Geschiedenis (Athenaeum 2019) and The Exemplifying Past. A Philosophy of History (Amsterdam University Press 2018).