Analytic Philosophy and History of Philosophy
Philosophy written in English is overwhelmingly analytic philosophy, and the techniques and predilections of analytic philosophy are not only unhistorical but anti-historical, and hostile to textual commentary. Analytic usually aspires to a very high degree of clarity and precision of formulation and argument, and it often seeks to be informed by, and consistent with, current natural science. In an earlier era, analytic philosophy aimed at agreement with ordinary linguistic intuitions orcommon sense beliefs, or both. All of these aspects of the subject sit uneasily with the use of historical texts for philosophical illumination. How, then, can substantial history of philosophy find a place in analytic philosophy? If history of philosophy includes the respectful, intelligent use of writings from the past to address problems that are being debated in the current philosophical journals, then history of philosophy may well belong to analytic philosophy. But if history of philosophy is more than this; if it is concerned with interpreting and reinterpreting a certain canon, or perhaps making a case for extending this canon, its connection with analytic philosophy is less clear. More obscure still is the connection between analytic philosophy and a kind of history of philosophy that is unapologetically antiquarian. This is the kind of history of philosophy that emphasises the status of a philosophical text as one document among others from a faraway intellectual world, and that tries to acquaint us with that world in order to produce understanding of the document. In this book, ten distinguished historians of philosophy, mostly trained in the analytic tradition, explore the tensions between, and the possibilities of reconciling, analytic philosophy and history of philosophy.
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