Philosophy in History: Essays in the Historiography of by Richard Rorty

By Richard Rorty

The 16 essays during this quantity confront the present debate in regards to the courting among philosophy and its historical past. at the one hand highbrow historians as a rule accuse philosophers of writing undesirable - anachronistic - heritage of philosophy, and at the different, philosophers have accused highbrow historians of writing undesirable - antiquarian - historical past of philosophy. The essays right here tackle this controversy and ask what function the historical past of philosophy should still serve. half I includes extra in basic terms theoretical and methodological dialogue, of such questions as no matter if there are 'timeless' philosophical difficulties, even if the problems of 1 epoch are commensurable with these of one other, and what type is acceptable to the historiography of the topic. The essays partially II think about a few case-histories. They current vital revisionist scholarship and unique contributions on themes drawn from old, early glossy and more moderen philosophy. all of the essays were especially commissioned, and the individuals comprise a number of the best figures within the box. the quantity as an entire can be of significant curiosity to every body taken with the research of philosophy and of its historical past.

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But this happens much more rarely than we might think. Our practices are in fact very resilient and long lasting. And they are, moreover, frequently linked with each other, so that suppressing some while maintaining others is virtually impossible. The interwoven practices of liberal democracy are a case in point. How to get rid of citizenship while keeping the society of rights, or of strategic individual actors ? This is not easy to envisage. To have one without the other, you need societies with very different histories to ours.

Either we read the philosophies of the past so as to make them relevant to our contemporary problems and enterprises, transmuting them as far as possible into what they would have been if they were part of present-day philosophy, and minimizing or ignoring or even on occasion misrepresent­ ing that which refuses such transmutation because it is inextricably bound up with that in the past which makes it radically different from present-day philosophy ; or instead we take great care to read them in their own terms, carefully preserving their idiosyncratic and specific character, so that they cannot emerge into the present except as a set of museum pieces.

I have mentioned how this necessity may arise as a result of change or development. But it may also arise because of the way articulations can distort or partly hide what is implicit in practices. This may be the case of a formative articulation for a given period. It may be the dominant generally accepted one, and for this reason be formative; but it may block out or deny important parts of the reality implicit in our practices. It wilfbe distortive in that these practices go on being carried out; we remain allegiant to other goods, although in a confused and half­ acknowledged way.

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