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Philosophy and the Historical Perspective$
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Marcel van Ackeren

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266298

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266298.001.0001

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The History of Philosophy Reveals that ‘Great’ Philosophy is Disguised Moral Advocacy: A Nietzschean Case against the Socratic Canon in Philosophy

The History of Philosophy Reveals that ‘Great’ Philosophy is Disguised Moral Advocacy: A Nietzschean Case against the Socratic Canon in Philosophy

Chapter:
(p.185) 12 The History of Philosophy Reveals that ‘Great’ Philosophy is Disguised Moral Advocacy: A Nietzschean Case against the Socratic Canon in Philosophy
Source:
Philosophy and the Historical Perspective
Author(s):

Brian Leiter

, Marcel van Ackeren, Lee Klein
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266298.003.0012

Instrumentalists think the history of philosophy is as relevant to philosophy as the history of physics is to physics: if past philosophical or physical theories are true, or help us get to the truth, then we should know about them, otherwise not. Sceptical instrumentalists (such as Carnap and Quine) think history fails on these counts, optimistic instrumentalists think it does not. By contrast ‘anti-philosophical’ instrumentalists—such as Marx, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein—are not simply sceptics, because the sceptics still believe there is something for philosophy to do, some knowledge it can produce, some truths it can reveal. The anti-philosophical philosophers think we should give up philosophy as traditionally conceived: the real lesson from the history of philosophy in the Socratic canon is that philosophy is ‘garbage’, or, as Nietzsche thought, disguised moral advocacy. For Nietzsche, this is the real lesson of the history of philosophy.

Keywords:   Nietzsche, Carnap, Wittgenstein, Quine, Socratic canon

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