The Necessity of History for Philosophy – Even Analytic Philosophy

Journal of the Philosophy of History 7 (3):299-325 (2013)
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Analytic philosophers are often said to be indifferent or even hostile to the history of philosophy – that is, not to the idea of history of philosophy as such, but regarded as a species of the genus philosophy rather than the genus history. Here it is argued that such an attitude is actually inconsistent with approaches within the philosophies of mind that are typical within analytic philosophy. It is suggested that the common “argument rather than pedigree” claim – that is, that claim that philosophical ideas should be evaluated only in the context of the reasons for or against them, and not in terms of historical conditions that brought them about – presupposes an early modern “egological” conception of the mind as normatively autonomous, and that such a view is in contradiction with the deeply held naturalistic predispositions of most contemporary philosophers of mind. Using the example of Wilfrid Sellars, who attempted to combine “naturalist” and “normative” considerations in his philosophy of mind, it is argued that only by treating the mind as having an artifactual dimension can these opposing considerations be accommodated. And, if the mind is at least partly understood as artifactual, then, to that extent, like all artifacts, it is to be understood via a narrative about the particular human activities in which those artifacts are produced and in which they function

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Paul Redding
University of Sydney


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