Nominalism and History


The paper focuses on Nominalism in history, its application, and its historiographical implications. By engaging with recent scholarship as well as classic works, a survey of Nominalism’s role in the discipline of history is made; such examination is timely, since it has been done but scantily in a purely historical context. In the light of recent theoretical works, which often display aporias over the nature and method of historical enquiry, the paper offers new considerations on historical theory, which in the author’s view may solve some of the contradictions that have surfaced in recent times. The Nominalistic stance is argued against by disputing theorists such as Paul Veyne, who has made a strong defense for Nominalism in history. A brief philosophical section introduces Nominalism in its metaphysical dimension and the discussion is speedily brought to its significance for history. The paper also proposes a solution to the misconstrued yet too often vague application of scientism in history, and offers theoretical grounds that might solve some of the ‘stormy grounds’ historiography finds itself in today. Articles by Marcel Gauchet and History and Theory’s Anton Froeyman and Bert Leuridan are engaged with, as well as Murray Murphy’s books on the philosophy of history. Works by Georg Gadamer, Marc Bloch, Benedetto Croce, Hyppolite Taine, and Anthony Grafton crucially inform the discussion and brace the consequential conclusion.

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Franchetti, C. (2013) Nominalism and History. Open Journal of Philosophy, 3, 401-412. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2013.33060.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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