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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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Why We Need a Real History of Philosophy

Why We Need a Real History of Philosophy

(p.36) 3 Why We Need a Real History of Philosophy
Philosophy and the Historical Perspective

John Marenbon

, Marcel van Ackeren, Lee Klein
British Academy

The main value of the history of philosophy is not in how philosophers can use it, but its intrinsic value as an independent discipline. A ‘real history of philosophy’ maximises this value. It must meet criteria with regard to method, breadth and comprehensiveness. The method of approach requires a rejection of the usual division of labour between history of philosophy and intellectual history. Although analytical historians rarely recommend such a method in theory, they often follow it in practice. But, as a field, analytic history of philosophy fails drastically in breadth and comprehensiveness. It is highly concentrated around a short list of names, historically on just two short periods, and geographically on a small area within the broad Western tradition. As a result, students of analytical philosophy are likely to finish their courses more ignorant of the real history of their subject than when they began.

Keywords:   history, philosophy, analytical, intrinsic value, Western

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