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Philosophy and Its HistoryAims and Methods in the Study of Early Modern Philosophy$
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Mogens Laerke, Justin E. H. Smith, and Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199857142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199857142.001.0001

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Philosophical Systems and Their History

Philosophical Systems and Their History

(p.236) 11 Philosophical Systems and Their History
Philosophy and Its History

Alan Nelson

Oxford University Press

This chapter advocates a method that strives to interpret important historical figures in philosophy as presenting philosophical systems of thought. This kind of systematic interpretation begins with the supposition that the philosophy being interpreted is itself systematic. This sometimes requires recovering the obscured systematicity. Section I gives a positive characterization of systematic interpretations. Section II notes some of the special obstacles that these interpretations must overcome if they are to be successful. Section III gives a brief sketch of how one might systematically approach Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. That text is a good test case because Locke professes systematicity, but historians have produced daunting arguments for the conclusion that the text fails to present a coherent system.

Keywords:   Locke, philosophical systems of thought, systematic interpretation, systematicity

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