Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 50 (1):40 - 81 (1988)

Narrativist philosophy of history rejects all attempts to establish an epistemological link between the past and its historical representation. Two forms of narrativism should be distinguished. The first form attacks epistemology by stressing the autonomy of historical writing with regard to the past itself ; the second form does the same by de-contextualizing the elements of the past—the very idea of the past thus becomes problematic and epistemological queries can no longer even be formulated. The first form of narrativism is synthetical, suggesting that the historian should construct broad panoramical views of the past ; the second, on the contrary, aims at a dispersive dissolution of the past. The article concentrates upon the dispersive form of narrativism. It is exemplified in Ginzburg's 'micro-storie'. The implication that these 'micro-storie' should not primarily be seen as historiography in the proper sense of the word but rather as a form of narrativist philosophy of history (expressing a theory of historical representation) is accepted wholeheartedly. It is shown that the 'micro-storie' come very close to Derrida's deconstructivist reading of texts. For in both cases we have to do with 'ruptures' announcing themselves in small, seemingly insignificant details. The conclusion of the article is that the synthetical and the dispersive forms of narrativism need each other and that we can give meaning to the concept of an objective historical reality only if we accept both of them
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