Louis Mink

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Louis O. Mink, Jr.
Born September 3, 1921
Died January 19, 1983
Nationality United States of America
Occupation Philosopher of History

Louis O. Mink, Jr. (September 3, 1921 – January 19, 1983) was a philosopher of history whose works challenged early philosopher of history R. G. Collingwood and were part of a postmodern dialogue on history and historical narrative with other philosophers of history, like Hayden White and Georg Lukács. Mink and White were responsible for what would later be called the "linguistic turn" in philosophy of history.[1]

Mink received his bachelor's degree from Hiram College, then served in the United States Army during World War II.[2] After the war he received a masters and doctorate from Yale. He became a member of the faculty at Wesleyan University in 1952 and remained in the department until he died of a heart attack on January 19, 1983. While at Wesleyan he was chair of the philosophy department from 1967 to 1976, the Kenan Professor of Humanities and director of the Center for Humanities. He had a wife named Helen Patterson, two sons and a daughter.[3]

Mink's largest contribution to history and philosophy of history was to emphasize the need for history to think of its published narratives as very similar to other narrative forms, such as fiction.[4] Mink's also asserts that thinking about history as "a true representation of the past" gives rise to a great deal of assumptions amongst historians that pose serious problems for history by misrepresenting it and its subject matter.[5] Mink was also important in studying James Joyce's fiction; most notably, his "A Finnegans Wake Gazeteer" (1978) documents all the place names in Joyce's Finnegans Wake.[2]


  1. ^ "Philosophy of History". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Apr 19, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b AP (January 21, 1983). "Louis Mink". Toledo Blade. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dr. Louis O. Mink Jr., 61, Dies; Taught Philosophy at Wesleyan". New York Times. January 21, 1983. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ Phillips, Mark (2000). Society and sentiment: genres of historical writing in Britain, 1740-1820. Princeton University Press. p. xiv. 
  5. ^ Mink, Louis O. “Narrative Form as a Cognitive Instrument.” Historical Understanding. Ed. Brian Fay, Eugene O. Golob and Richard T. Vann (Cornell, 1987). 183.

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