By F.R. Ankersmit
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Extra resources for Sublime Historical Experience
I am thinking here of the anti-scientistic narrativism that has been proposed by historical theorists such as Hayden White and Paul Ricoeur and, second, of the interest in tropology and in metaphor that is characteristic of both Rorty and contemporary historical theory since White. Let us start with narrative. Historical theorists believe that it is the primary task of the historian to bring order into the chaos of the data that the past has left us, and they often argue that the historian paradigmatically �oes so by telling a story about the past.
Here we can observe the thought-provoking intuition that if one rejects epistemology, historism is hard to avoid. And if we recall Rorty's eulogy of Gadamer with which Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature ends, it is dear that Rorty does welcome rather than fear all the historist implications of the main argument in that monumental and seminal work. But perhaps we have been moving a bit too fast here. I would like to get back now for a moment to Ranke's "comic" conception, which I had presented as being basically at odds with the nature of historism.
Hence, if metaphor nevertheless- as both Davidson and Rorty readily concede- is quite es sential in our use of language, it can play its prominent role only because The Case ofRichard Rorty 37 the metaphorical use of language functions as a causal stimulus for the development of new and surprising in sights. Put differently, within the whole of our use of language metaphor deliberately creates a kind of se� m antic impasse that forces us to do something quite distinct from how we "normally" _ succeed in understanding language.