Analytic philosophy and history: A mismatch?

Mind 117 (468):867-897 (2008)
Abstract
In recent years, even some of its own practitioners have accused analytic philosophy of lacking historical awareness. My aim is to show that analytic philosophy and history are not such a mismatch after all. Against the objection that analytic philosophers have unduly ignored the past I argue that for the most part they only resist strong versions of historicism, and for good reasons. The history of philosophy is not the whole of philosophy, as extreme historicists maintain, nor is it indispensable to substantive philosophizing, as mainline historicists have it, it is merely advantageous (pragmatic historicism). Against the objection that analytic histories of philosophy are inevitably anachronistic I argue that it is possible to approach past texts with a view to substantive issues and in a critical spirit (contrary to historicist relativism and to misguided interpretations of the principle of charity). Indeed, such an analytic approach makes not just for better philosophy but also for better history
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