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By Tom Sorell, G. A. J. Rogers

Philosophy written in English is overwhelmingly analytic philosophy, and the ideas and predilections of analytic philosophy will not be purely unhistorical yet anti-historical, and adversarial to textual statement. Analytic often aspires to a really excessive measure of readability and precision of formula and argument, and it frequently seeks to learn through, and in step with, present usual technology. In an previous period, analytic philosophy geared toward contract with usual linguistic intuitions or logic ideals, or either. All of those points of the topic sit down uneasily with using historic texts for philosophical illumination. during this publication, ten distinctive philosophers discover the tensions among, and the chances of reconciling, analytic philosophy and historical past of philosophy. individuals: M. R. Ayers, John Cottingham, Daniel Garber, Gary Hatfield, Anthony Kenny, Steven Nadler, G. A. J. Rogers, Tom Sorell, Catherine Wilson, Yves Charles Zarka

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Sample text

The philosopher who ignores the historical background of past classics will gain no fresh light on the issues which concern us today, but merely present contemporary prejudices in fancy dress. The two dangers threaten in different proportions in different areas of the history of philosophy. In the area of metaphysics it is superficiality which is most to be guarded against: to someone without a personal interest in fundamental philosophical problems the systems of the great thinkers of the past will seem only quaint lunacy.

That is not to say that I have anything against the study of the history of philosophy. I do not discourage students or others from studying the history of philosophy. I am myself quite interested in the history of moral philosophy for example and have occasionally taught graduate seminars in Kant. 1 These views are measured, and they certainly do not express the deep hostility toward history of philosophy that I ascribed to Harman on the basis of the gossip about the sign on his door. At the same time, they do not seem to me to be uncontentious.

27 derogatory attitude to history of philosophy, it turns out that the faults they attribute to it are often glaringly manifest in much of their own so-called cutting-edge work. Typically, when the views of some modern luminary L are unfolded in such reverential detail, remarkably little effort is put into showing (as opposed to assuming) that those views are philosophically important or challenging to the reader; it is apparently enough that they are the views of L; or, even worse, that they represent how L modified his views in response to the comments of M—some other member of the modern analytic pantheon.

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