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Conclusion

In this chapter, as in the previous one, I have examined colligatory concepts, which are arguably the most interesting feature of historiography and which integrate both historical data and historical phenomena into powerful and meaningful synthesizing views. My conclusions are, first, that colligatory concepts cannot be true of historical reality in the sense of correspondence. Second, they cannot be seen as natural categorizations of historical reality. Third, colligatory expressions do not emerge from the historical record; nor can they be uniquely correct regarding any given historical data. Further, choices between them cannot be determined solely on empirical grounds, even though any colligatory expression has to be supported by empirical data. Finally, it is nevertheless possible to form judgments between rival colligatory expressions on the basis of empirical and extra-empirical rational criteria: exemplification, coherence, comprehensiveness, scope and originality.

Before moving on to the next chapter, it is necessary to briefly return to the problem of holism and ask whether historical texts amount to colligatory constructions. It was concluded above that colligatory concepts are wholes composed of lower-order entities. If texts were colligations in this sense, they would thus also be holistic entities. Also, it was shown in the previous chapter that the narrativists typically thought that a historical text is a narrative whole. Ankersmit would identify a text as a holistic colligatory construction.10 Some scholars following the narrativist philosophers of historiography formulate the relation between colligatory expressions and historical texts even more directly. For example, Shaw writes that 'the text [e.g. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire] is assigned the subject Roman Empire not because the grammatical subjects of its individual sentences refer to some thing called Roman Empire, but because the text as a whole constructs a representation that its creator has named Roman Empire ... Each history expresses a unique colligatory concept' (Shaw 2013, 1097-1098).

I already questioned in the previous chapter the claim that texts are undecomposable wholes, which means that they could not be colligations either. Only rarely is the central message of a historical text that one should adopt a new colligatory notion. This is of course possible, and something that may have happened in Michelet (1855), when he suggested that the historical period after the Middle Ages should be called the 'Renaissance'. Notice, however, that it does not follow that the text in its entirety has to be colligated under one covering concept even in a case like this. Nevertheless, it is the case that historiographical texts contain colligatory expressions. Colligatory language is deeply embedded in the practice of historiography and constitutes some of the most interesting and expressive concepts in historiography.

Although I have provided some criteria that could be used in the evaluation of colligatory concepts, there nevertheless remains a challenging situation in terms of evaluation when historical statements include colligatory expressions. The good news is that a commitment to historiography as having an argumentative structure does not constitute similar problems as to the commitment to 'representation', because the former can be seen as being composed of distinguishable statements and not of one undecomposable whole. But one has to also answer the question of how the whole text could be evaluated, given that it is the central cognitive unit in historiography. It is now time to move to the chapters in which a comprehensive solution for evaluation in historiography is suggested. A dimension of this solution is justification via epistemic values, as explained in this chapter.

 
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