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Colligatory concepts in the philosophy of historiography

One unifying thread shared by the pre-narrativists and narrativists is their attention to the synthesizing expressions used in historiography. In Chapter 2 many suggestions regarding these were examined. William Walsh's colligatory concepts were briefly mentioned (in footnote 5). Danto wrote about narrative sentences, which involve 'an inexpun- gible subjective factor' (Danto 1968, 142). In addition, Danto suggested that the historian creates temporal wholes that connect temporally separate objects (Danto 1968, 248, 255). Mink spoke of configurational modes

that create historical comprehension by presenting separate things as 'elements in a single and concrete complex of relationships' (Mink 1970, 551). And Morton White claimed that narration must have a central subject of which the narrator gives 'a connected account of the development' (M. White 1965, 221). M. White also wrote about the colliga- tory power of the statements included in a narration (M. White 1965, 257, 263-264). Further, Ankersmit linked together three notions that all have some kind of integrative function in historiography: images/ pictures (of the past), colligatory concepts and narrative substances. They amount to a synthesizing thesis or view of the past contained in a book of history. Finally, Hayden White's tropes unify texts and give them a meaningful plot. Various examples of synthesizing expressions have also already been presented, such as the 'Cold War,' the 'Renaissance' and the 'Industrial Revolution'. It would be easy to expand the list. For example, Behan McCullagh mentions David Hackett Fischer's thesis that the central theme of American history is that it is about the growth of liberty and freedom over the centuries (McCullagh 2008, 152). The notion of 'Jacksonian democracy' (e.g. Benson 1961, 329), which refers to a specific political movement towards democracy in the early decades of the 1800s, led by Andrew Jackson, is an equally good example. And so is the 'sense of imperial mission' that was used to describe the unarticulated governing purposes and goals of Victorian Britain (Walsh, 1958, 61-62).

The main idea behind all these notions of the pre-narrativists and narrativists is that they integrate units of information to form something new and to thus create novel historiographical information, which cannot be thought to have existed before this act of creation. The question that I am primarily interested is two-fold. Can such expressions be conceived of as true in any representational sense of historical reality? Do they refer to some entities in the past, for example? Can they correspond to the historical reality? Could we see them as natural classifications of the historical world? Secondly, can such integrative expressions be justified? And, more specifically, would it feasible to see them as justified even if they could not be viewed as true or referring? These are important questions since it is naturally desirable that historiography would not be just about arbitrary figments of literary imagination, and that historiography not be a field that lets imagination reign totally free and unconstrained without any cognitive constraints.

I will adopt the terms 'colligatory concepts' and 'colligation' from now on to designate the synthesizing expression in historiography. 'Colligation' appears to be most fitting as it means 'to tie, group or join together'. It is also sufficiently technical and specific a term to be used in the discussion on historiography without the danger of overt generality. Next, I will study in more detail what colligatory concepts are. This begins with an examination of William Walsh's writings on colligatory concepts since the term originates in his writings in the philosophy of history and historiography. After that examination, I will introduce and study two examples of colligatory concepts in historiography, those of the 'Thaw' and the 'Christian expansion.' After the analyses of these colligatory concepts, I will evaluate, whether they could be true and justified due to their referential capacity and as classifications of the historical world. My conclusion in this investigation is negative, which will provide an incentive to consider other empirical and non-empirical ways for justifying colligatory notions in the following chapter.

 
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