Reorientations of Philosophy in the Age of History: Nietzsche’s Gesture of Radical Break and Dilthey’s Traditionalism

Studia Philosophica: Swiss Journal of Philosophy 76:223-243 (2017)
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Abstract

In this paper, I examine two exemplary replies to the challenge of history that played a crucial role in the controversies on the nature and purpose of philosophy during the so-called long 19th century. Nietzsche and Dilthey developed concepts of philosophy in contrast with one another, and in particular regarding their approach to the history of philosophy. While Nietzsche advocates a radical break with the history of philosophy, Dilthey emphasizes the continuity with the philosophical tradition. I shall argue that these conceptual reorientations are linked to specific social images of the philosopher. Nietzsche, on the one hand, presents us a new version of the philosophical recluse. Dilthey, on the other hand, embraces the idea of a philosophical community, thus emphasizing the collective character of philosophical research. My examination of these connections attempts to show that the history of philosophy should also be studied as a social tradition.

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Johannes Steizinger
McMaster University

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