History and Theory 49 (1):21-37 (2008)

Vili Lähteenmäki
University of Helsinki
Jari Kaukua
University of Jyväskylä
Contemporary caution of anachronism in intellectual history on the one hand, and currently momentous theoretical emphasis on subjectivity on the other, are two prevailing circumstances that set puzzling constraints for studies in the history of philosophical psychology. Together these circumstances call for heightened awareness of our own interpretive presuppositions as historians: the former urges against assuming ideas, motives, and concepts that may be alien in the historical intellectual setting under study and the latter suggests caution in relying on our intuitions regarding subjectivity due to the specific and historicallycontingent characterisations subjectivity has attained in the contemporary philosophy of mind. In face of these enticements our paper explores subjectivity as a non-textual standard of interpretation. Taking into account recent methodological discussion and examples of denials of the relevance of subjectivity for historical theories, we argue that historical work should be conceived as a reflective investigation into what is and what is not genuinely historical. In particular, we show how subjectivity can function as a pre-conceptualized feature of the world that has an effect on our concept formation
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  Historiography  Subjectivity
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Reprint years 2010
DOI wcp22200838450
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