Philosophy in History: Essays on the Historiography of Philosophy (Ideas in Context)

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The book draws heavily on the work of Wilhelm Dilthey, and Romantic hermeneutics. It rejects as unachievable the goal of objectivity, and instead suggests that meaning is created through intersubjective communication. Children's books are among some of the most popular themes to build a book collection on. Read through our tips, hints, and information on collecting books signed or inscribed by the author or illustrator.

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Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. When we are addressing questions such as 'Which historiographical method is the best method to describe the past? But can we say that this area of research is really new, or is it just another side of the philosophy of history?

In other words, is there a true distinction between the philosophy of history and a discipline that we can call the 'philosophy of historiography' or is it just another language game? To find the answer to this question we should take each of these terms and see what stands behind them. The confusion is generated by the ambiguity that is implied by its different meanings.

When talking about 'history,' we could refer to a number of different things -for example, we can speak about 'history' as a discipline which deals with descriptions about past events, or we can strictly talk about past events. He distinguishes between 'history' used only in the sense of past events and 'historiography' as the "result of inquiries about history, written accounts of the past" [4].

This could represent a hint which could be useful for unlocking the mystery of the difference between the 'philosophy of history' and the 'philosophy of historiography. What is commonly used in the philosophical jargon is the difference between critical, or analytical philosophy of history, and substantive and speculative philosophy of history; yet, Tucker disagrees that these opposing types of philosophies would represent an accurate description of what the difference between 'philosophy of historiography' and 'philosophy of history' might be, because they generate more confusion and they are "too vague and value laden" [4].

A more accurate account would be to remain faithful to the distinction that we have just made - the one between 'history' as past events and 'historiography' as a description of past events. Indeed, some comparisons between the kantian critical project and historiography could be made, as both of them are interested in conditions of knowledge, but Tucker contends that the philosophy of historiography is "interested in much more than this Kantian project" [4]. It seems to be the same with the analogy between an analytical philosophy of historiography and an analytical philosophy: philosophy of historiography is certainly interested in analyzing the language, but there is much more than that.

On the other hand, Tucker considers the term "speculative philosophy" to be a "term of abuse" [4]. So, while the philosophy of history mainly focuses on examining history, the philosophy of historiography is a foray into the ways in which we are talking about past events.

Philosophy in History: Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy (Ideas in Context)

It follows, then, that the philosophy of historiography is concerned primarily with questions of epistemology. As Tucker explains. If the philosophy of historiography is especially interested in epistemological questions, then the philosophy of history deals with problems like the following: is history contingent or is it necessary; is it linear or cyclical?

It follows that the "philosophy of history parallels sub-fields of metaphysics that examine the ultimate constituent part of everything, such as the philosophy of nature" [4].

The Story of Western Philosophy

Of course, this is not a clear-cut distinction, because the philosophy of historiography is primarily concerned with epistemological problems, but it could also be interested in ontological ones, such as what is the nature of the object that we are studying? Tucker [5] divides the philosophy of historiography in three different categories: phenomenological, descriptive, and prescriptive.

The phenomenological type is "a rigorous examination of the consciousness of disciplinary practitioners, such as scientists and historians" [5]. It is interested in observing how historians see their practice. Tucker is critical of this approach because it can be misleading; many scientists are not fully conscious of their own methodologies.

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He gives Newton as an example, when he presents his ideas in terms of the "dominant inductive philosophy of science, though Newtonian physics is clearly not inductive" [5]. The prescriptive philosophy of historiography has as a principal goal to put forth some normative principles.

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This holds not only for outstanding famous thinkers but also for lesser lights: even if they were not earth-shattering innovators, they usually didn't just write rubbish. For instance I recently wrote a paper on the widespread ancient tendency to compare the following things to one another: the individual or the soul ; the household; the city; and the cosmos. The hostile addition is a later intervention, not from the student, but I think I will leave that one so everyone can enjoy the ambiguity. There, the letter of a decision ought to be understood in reference to the future. I don't see that I have any "huge challenge" because I'm not attempting any huge task. With Aristotle on slavery and Rousseau on women, as they explicitly wrote about it in more than passing, any criticism of them is not about them "failing to have ideas they might have had", but about criticising the ideas they did have, after considering the matter. Furthermore, the discussion of the philosophical exchange between these language areas in recent years is limited in such an approach, and it fails to include Afrophone philosophies.

The problem is that these ideals "may be a description of the practices of a successful part of a discipline [ Finally the descriptive position is the one which Tucker considers the most valuable one. We have seen so far that under the tern 'philosophy of historiography' lies an entire set of specific problems which make an autonomous discipline rise. Keeping in mind that one of the specific questions which the philosophy of historiography has to answer is 'what is the nature of the object that we are studying?

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In other words - which are the specific features of the activity we call 'philosophy'? The answers we give to this important question set the path which we are following when we write the history of philosophy.

Moreover, the answer to this question constitutes what Delete calls a "plane of immanence" [6]. I would like now to look more deeply to a possible answer that we can give to the question stated above, and I will follow the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in setting a definition for philosophy. In what would be their last collaborative work, What is Philosophy? From the very beginning of their book, they clearly state their position regarding philosophy: "philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts" [6].

Looking back in history, Deleuze and Guattari speak about what philosophy meant for the Greeks:. The Greeks might seem to have confirmed the death of the sage and to have replaced him with the philosopher - the friend of wisdom, the one who seeks wisdom but does not formally possess it" [6]. If the sage thinks in Figures, says Deleuze and Guattari [6], then the specificity of the philosopher is that he uses and invents Concepts. He is the friend of the concept and of wisdom, in the sense that between the philosopher and the concept an intimate bond is established.


Cambridge Core - History of Ideas and Intellectual History - Philosophy in History - edited by Richard Rorty. Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy. Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy. $ (G). Part of Ideas in Context philosophers of writing bad - anachronistic - history of philosophy, and on the.

More simply, we could say that in every good philosopher lays latent the potentiality of concept creation - like in Deleuze's and Guattari's [6] example - in the good joiner we can find the potential of wood. What else exposes this intimate bond if not the very conditions of thinking itself -because we cannot think without using concepts, and we cannot think outside them.

But Deleuze and Guattari warn us that "philosophy is not the simple art of forming, inventing, or fabricating concepts, because concepts are. More rigorously, philosophy is the discipline that involves creating concepts" [6].

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Concepts are not like laws of nature, waiting out there to be discovered by someone. They have to be created, they have to be put to work always in new modes, they have to be remodeled in a way in which to give better accounts, and they have to bear the special mark of their creator. In this sense, Deleuze and Guattari give an interesting example: "Plato said that Ideas must be contemplated, but first of all he had to create the concept of Idea" [6].

This is not to say that although the concepts are created, they could acquire an existence in themselves and for themselves. They are always entangled in a web-like net of other concepts. There is no simple concept, because "every concept relates back to other concepts, not only in history, but in its becoming or its present connections.

Every concept has components that may, in turn, be grasped as concepts" [6]. So we are dealing with an infinite series, and it is clear from this argument that concepts are not created ex nihilo.

Questions of canon formation in philosophy: The history of philosophy in Africa

Another feature of concepts is that, although their parts are heterogeneous, there is something that gives them unity: "there is an area ab that belongs to both a and b, where a and b become indiscernible" [6]. Moreover, they interact on the same plane with other concepts in order to find new ways of thinking. Another important feature of the concept is that it is at the same time absolute and relative. It is relative when we are thinking of "its own components, of the plane on which it is defined, and of the problems it is supposed to resolve; but it is absolute through the condensation it carries out, the site it occupies on the plane, and the conditions it assigns to the problem" [6].

The important conclusion at which the two philosophers arrive is that "constructivism unites the relative and the absolute" [6]. This constitutes my argument - that philosophy is essentially an activity which involves the creation of concepts, an activity which offers us "knowledge through pure concepts" [6], and that these concepts are created and modified in the course of the history of philosophy.

Deleuze and Guattari [6] speak about the Nietzschean verdict that you cannot know anything through concepts, unless you first give them birth. Keeping this in mind, we could propose a new type of historiography of philosophy, one which would account for a 'history of concepts. This paper takes as a starting point Richard Rorty's inquiry of the historiographies of philosophy. Surveying his text lead us to the conclusion that historiography of philosophy lacks a certain unitary vision of how to write history of philosophy.

This suggests that these different views come from the fact that some authors have different philosophical opinions about what is the nature of philosophy as a discipline.