dr. CM van den Akker

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Personal information

Chiel van den Akker is lecturer Theory of History at the department of Art and Culture, History and Antiquities. He is the author of Elementaire Deeltjes - Geschiedenis (Athenaeum 2019) and The Exemplifying Past. A Philosophy of History (Amsterdam University Press 2018). 

He received his PhD in Philosophy from Radboud University Nijmegen in 2009 with a thesis on the nature of historical representation. He graduated with distinction (cum laude) in History at the same university.

Hij is lid van het meesterschapsteam vakdidactiek geschiedenis.

Selected publications:

  • The Modern Idea of History and its Value. An Introduction, (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020)
  • Arthur Danto, the End of Art, and the Philosophical View of History, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 13(2) (2019), 235-256.
  • The Exemplifying Past. A Philosophy of History, (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018).
  • Mink’s Riddle of Narrative Truth, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 7(3) (2013), 346-370.

About The Modern Idea of History and its Value. An Introduction, 2020. This is an original and accessible introduction to the modern idea of history and its value, and an indispensable companion to the study of history and its philosophical underpinnings. The book answers two basic questions: What is history? And what is its value? It also shows how the answers to these questions are mutually dependent. The old view that history is the teacher of life, for instance, assumes that the past is a reservoir of examples from which moral lessons for the present can be drawn.

The subjects discussed include history as the teacher of life, the need for truth and objectivity, the moral standards of the historian, realism and the value of historical insight, historical explanation and understanding, the intelligibility of the historical process, the tragedy of history, the politics of history-writing, and the close connection between history, narrative, and the desire for justice. These topics are discussed with the help of inspiring and influential historians and philosophers such as Thucydides, Ranke, Hegel, Nietzsche, Collingwood, Arendt, White, Hunt, and Ankersmit.

Over Geschiedenis - Elementaire Deeltjes 2019. Elke samenleving kent manieren om met het verleden om te gaan. In de negentiende eeuw groeide geschiedenis uit tot een wetenschappelijke discipline, maar nieuw was het vak niet: al in de oudheid waren er geschiedschrijvers. In het Elementaire Deeltje Geschiedenis maakt Chiel van den Akker duidelijk wat iedereen over geschiedenis zou moeten weten. Aan de hand van een select gezelschap van inspirerende en invloedrijke denkers stelt hij de vraag: waar hebben we geschiedenis eigenlijk voor nodig?


About The Exemplifying Past. A Philosophy of History 2018. This book addresses a wide range of philosophical problems about history and the semantics of time. The point of departure is the distinction between events under the description of past witnesses and their contemporaries and events under the description of historians. Its main claim is that a thesis on the past is exemplified rather than being justified by the available evidence. Such thesis, the book argues, retroactively becomes concrete in the past under consideration. This book will not only appeal to philosophers and historians, but to students and scholars across the humanities.


About Museums in a Digital Culture. How Art and Heritage Become Meaningful 2016. The experience of engaging with art and history has been utterly transformed by information and communications technology in recent decades. We now have virtual, mediated access to countless heritage collections and assemblages of artworks, which we intuitively browse and navigate in a way that wasn't possible until very recently. This collection of essays takes up the question of the cultural meaning of the information and communications technology that makes these new engagements possible, asking questions like: How should we theorise the sensory experience of art and heritage? What does information technology mean for the authority and ownership of heritage?



Semester 1

  • Key Works in Contemporary Historical Thought (MA)
  • History and Theory (MA)
  • Theorie van de Geschiedenis (Ba,2)
  • Contributing to Introduction to Digital Hermeneutics and Social Analytics (Minor, Ba,3)

Semester 2

  • Bijdrage aan Wetenschapsgeschiedenis (BA,2)
  • Contributing to Environmental Humanities and Digital Humanities (RMA)

Ancillary activities

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam | Amsterdam | Lecturer | 2020-02-03 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily


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