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The Holocaust and the Postmodern$
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Robert Eaglestone

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199265930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265930.001.0001

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Against Historicism: History, Memory, and Truth

Against Historicism: History, Memory, and Truth

Chapter:
(p.137) 5 Against Historicism: History, Memory, and Truth
Source:
The Holocaust and the Postmodern
Author(s):

Robert Eaglestone (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265930.003.0006

This chapter offers a new way to understand the relationship between history and truth, drawing on Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas. It argues that debates about history and representation, about history and memory, about whether history is an art or a science, are really debates about the sort of truth to which history aspires. Drawing on Bernard Williams and Donald Davidson, it argues that there are two rival conceptions of truth: truth as correspondence, and following Heidegger, that this relies upon the second sense of truth, truth as uncovering. The chapter then reinterprets Heidegger's understanding of truth in the light of Levinas's ethical philosophy, and argues for a new, ethical understanding of the role of history (history without historicism). It offers two examples of thinkers who implicitly draw on these distinctions, Isaiah Berlin and Hayden White.

Keywords:   metahistory, Holocaust historiography, philosophy of history, truth, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Bernard Williams, Donald Davidson, Isaiah Berlin, Hayden White

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