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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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The History of Philosophy as Past and as Process

The History of Philosophy as Past and as Process

(p.30) 2 The History of Philosophy as Past and as Process
Philosophy and Its History

Justin E. H. Smith

Oxford University Press

This essay argues that some of the reflections on the knowability of the past that have occurred within archeological theory in the past century or so may be usefully applied to the study of the history of philosophy. In particular, archeology shows us a way of reconstructing intentions from the sum of available of evidence, and it does not reject any evidence on the grounds that this evidence is fragmentary or defective. On the contrary, it sees itself as specializing in the study of defective traces of the past. In order to adopt this approach, however, historians of philosophy must rethink what sort of truths their field of inquiry aims to uncover, and how this aim distinguishes their work from non-historical, systematic philosophy.

Keywords:   archeology, intentions, evidence, knowability, systematic philosophy

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