Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 50 (4):912-914 (1997)
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According to Carl Page, the ambition of first philosophy is "to get to the bottom of things," to render lucid the ultimate principles of self and world by means of reason. Philosophical historicism is the thesis that human reason is constituted by historically contingent and mutable horizons. These horizons comprehend reason and are therefore incomprehensible to it. History lies behind reason, thus reason cannot get behind history. Therefore, if historicism is true, reason cannot get to the bottom of things. Page seeks to demonstrate the self-refuting character of philosophical historicism, thereby defeating its contention that first philosophy is impossible. Page does not, however, offer positive reasons for believing first philosophy to be possible, much less an indication of what really lies at the bottom of things.



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