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Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of History: Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia on the Relation Between Past and Present

In this paper, the author discusses the relation between psychoanalysis and philosophy of history. He talks about the influence of psychology and psychoanalysis on Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia, two central figures in contemporary philosophy of history. According to Ankersmit, the notion of trauma plays a central part in the way in which we deal with our past. Ankersmit also uses patients suffering from de-realization as a guiding example to clarify his understanding of the relationship between reality, language, trauma and experience. Eelco Runia on the other hand refers to the use of the Lacanian concept of the “real”. In the way we deal with the past, this concept manifests itself in two different ways. The first involves the concept of the “presence of the past”, together with the psychoanalytically well-known concept of “parallel processing”. The second one concerns the notion of the sublime act as it manifests itself in certain kinds of historical events. Runia also links this to Daryl Bem’s self-perception theory.