The introduction sketches the method of interpretation that will be used in the essays that follow. It employs the principle that there is a very strong presumption in favor of the dual claim that philosophers meant to say precisely what they did say and that what they did say means precisely what it seems to mean. This is called a semantic principle of charity. It combines a principle of local interpretation – an attempt to understand how each bit of text moves the enterprise along – with a principle of global interpretation – an attempt to see, if possible, how these various parts form a coherent whole. It is opposed to presentism in all its many forms.
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