This paper uses the friendship and collaboration of Edwin Ray Lankester , zoologist, and Herbert George Wells , novelist and journalist, to challenge the current interpretation of late Victorian concern over degeneration as essentially an intellectual movement with little influence in contemporary debates over social and political problems. Degeneration theory provided for Lankester and Wells the basis both for a personal bond and for an active programme of social and educational reform. I trace the construction of Lankester’s account (...) of degeneration, initially as empirical ‘fact’ and later as ideologically inflected theory, and the reciprocal relationship between this theory and his critique of the British university system. I use Wells’s Outline of history to illustrate the profound influence of Lankester’s degenerationist worldview on Wells’s scientific and socio-political thought. Lankester’s synthesis of his theory and his critique led the two men to reject eugenics as an unscientific and ideologically incompatible solution to the problem of national deterioration. Instead, they campaigned for the reform of scientific education as a means of keeping mankind from physical, intellectual and cultural degeneration. (shrink)
Charles Bernheimer described decadence as a "stimulant that bends thought out of shape, deforming traditional conceptual molds." In this posthumously published work, Bernheimer succeeds in making a critical concept out of this perennially fashionable, rarely understood term. Decadent Subjects is a coherent and moving picture of fin de siècle decadence. Mature, ironic, iconoclastic, and thoughtful, this remarkable collection of essays shows the contradictions of the phenomenon, which is both a condition and a state of mind. In seeking to show why (...) people have failed to give a satisfactory account of the term decadence, Bernheimer argues that we often mistakenly take decadence to represent something concrete, that we see as some sort of agent. His salutary response is to return to those authors and artists whose work constitutes the topos of decadence, rereading key late nineteenth-century authors such as Nietzsche, Zola, Hardy, Wilde, Moreau, and Freud to rediscover the very dynamics of the decadent. Through careful analysis of the literature, art, and music of the fin de siècle including a riveting discussion of the many faces of Salome, Bernheimer leaves us with a fascinating and multidimensional look at decadence, all the more important as we emerge from our own fin de siècle. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the make-up of different cultures in experimental neurology, neuroanatomy, and clinical psychiatry. These cultures served as important research bases for early regenerative concepts and projects in the area of neurology and psychiatry at the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the developments in brain research and clinical neurology cannot be regarded to be isolated from broader societal developments, as the discourses on social de- and regeneration, neurasthenia, nerve-weakness and experiences of the brain-injured after WWI show. Societal (...) and cultural developments directly influenced researchers’ conceptualisation, scientific ideas, and even their experimental and clinical orientation. They directly reflect which scientific problems the neuroscientists felt inclined to address and what areas they began to leave aside. Using the concept of socio-technical experiments, it is demonstrated that research methodologies in neuronal de- and regeneration studies were not simply a product of recent advances in the scientific differentiation of somatic neurology or brain-psychiatry. Moreover, they resulted in important interdisciplinary attempts which emerged from great collaborative work including neuroscientists from various areas of investigation in both basic and clinical contexts. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 196 - 219 In his 1978 On Human Nature, Edward Wilson defined the evolutionary epic as the scientific story of all life, a linear narrative beginning with the big bang and ending with the story of human history. Since that time several popular science writers have attempted to write that story of life producing such titles as The Universe Story and The Epic of Evolution. Historians have also gotten into the act under (...) the guise of “Big History,” which has resulted in a series of monographs and is taught at several universities and high schools throughout the world. While the evolutionary epic is often presented as a novel way of bringing the historical insights of modern science into a narrative form that transcends the humanities–natural science divide, the genre itself originates in the nineteenth century, just as new geological and cosmic timescales were being established and new sciences such as biology and anthropology were being formalized. Several German Naturphilosophen and Victorian naturalists imagined the history of life as one, as a “Cosmos,” and produced evolutionary epics that bare significant similarities with their more modern counterparts. By considering the various recurrences of the evolutionary epic, from its origins in early German Romanticism and Victorian naturalism to the degeneration narratives of the fin de siècle and on to the Wilsonian and Big History versions of the late twentieth century and beyond, this essay seeks to map out a shared intellectual genealogy while examining the genre’s conceptual commonalities. What is perhaps most compelling about the history of the genre is the striking persistence of non-Darwinian forms of evolution that are utilized to situate the emergence of humanity in these epic narratives of life. (shrink)
Hegel inverted the Tantric Buddhist, Bönpo and Stoic view of human spiritual and social evolution by presenting it as a progressive perfecting rather than as a progressive degeneration impelled by the gradual development of the basic human delusion called avidya (unawareness). Since he cancelled the crucial map /territory distinction, he had to explain change in nature as the negation of the immediately preceding state, and since he wanted spiritual and social evolution to be a process of perfecting, he had (...) to invent a negation that, rather than canceling former negations, or incorporating them and thus increasing fragmentation and delusion, incorporated them and thereby produced an increase of wholeness and truth: the Aufhebung or sublation, not found in any existing process—whether logical or in phenomenological—and existing only in Hegel’s imagination. The only existing negation that incorporates the preceding negation, rather than canceling or annulling it (as logical negation does), is the phenomenological negation occurring in Sartre’s bad faith, which Laing illustrated with a “spiral of pretenses,” and Hegel’s sublation is a misrepresentation of this phenomenological negation that he fancied to make his inverted view of spiritual, social and political evolution possible. In the Tantric Buddhist, Bönpo and Stoic view what increases is fragmentation and delusion. When these reach their logical extreme,they achieve their reductio ad absurdum in ecological crisis. (shrink)
At present it is no longer merely scientists and experts but broad strata of the public who are beginning to recognize that the greatest danger ever to threaten mankind as a whole has arisen for the first time in history, since the very existence of Homo sapiens as a biological species has been placed in question.
Since William Jones announced the kinship of Sanskrit and the European languages, a massive body of scholarship has illuminated the development of the so-called "Indo-European" language group. This new historical philology has enormous technical achievements to its credit. But almost from the start, it became entangled with prejudices and myths--with efforts to recreate not only the lost language, but also the lost--and superior--civilization of the Indo-European ancestors. This drive to determine the identity and nature of the first language of humanity (...) was deeply rooted in both near eastern and western traditions. The Bible described the perfect, transparent language of Adam and followed its degeneration, caused by human sin, into the multiple, opaque languages of later nations. The three sons of Noah became, for Jewish and early Christian writers, the founders of three distinct human groups. By the sixth and seventh centuries, historians began to magnify the deeds of certain later peoples, such as the Scythians and Goths, and to connect them with the biblical genealogy of languages and races. And in the Renaissance, speculative historical etymology took root and flourished, as national pride led European intellectuals to assert that their own modern languages--for example, Flemish--either could be identified with the original one or offered the closest surviving approximation to it. Japheth, Noah's favorite son and the forefather of the Europeans, emerged as the hero who had preserved the original language in its purity. A new history of the European languages developed, one which traced them back to the language of the barbarian Scythians and emphasized the connections between Persian and European languages. It came to seem implausible that the European languages derived from Hebrew. By the eighteenth century, in short, all the preconditions were present for a discovery that the ancestors of the Europeans, like the common ancestor of their languages, had been independent of Semitic influence. A modern scholarly thesis whose political and intellectual consequences are still working themselves out reveals the continuing impact of a millennial tradition of speculation about language and history. (shrink)
Readers expecting a history of nineteenth‐century pathology are in for a surprise. They will find instead a self‐conscious example of cultural studies, critical of some assumptions made in this field and of some feminist writing, but containing some alarming sentences like “My goal has been to give shape to the accidental palimpsests of an inveterately verbal, and increasingly visual, culture; to assemble a particular series of hermeneutic loose ends into a coherent account of how an extraordinarily bizarre system of (...) signification came into being” . With learned English like that, who needs Latin? But once we get into the main part of the book, things get much better. We are confronted with a study of the fringes of science, in popular writings, in literature, and in raree‐shows, one working from sources that the more austere scientifics of the Victorian period despised and that historians of science are prone to ignore. Metaphor and analogy are everywhere, and sensitive stomachs will be churned by vivid accounts of disease, deformity, and surgery.The first chapter is concerned with the cholera morbus, the plague of the nineteenth century, and with the way it could be perceived as an indicator of social ills. John Ruskin's word “illth” as an opposite of health is revived, and the terrible blackness of the shriveled and dehydrated victims of this disease imported from the East is linked with colonial and racist notions. The theme that a healthy body is like a well‐run state leads into the next chapter, on breast cancer. Surgery was not only agonizing but ineffective in the first half of the nineteenth century, but then the survival rate after three years rose gradually from 4.7 percent to 45 percent by 1900. O'Connor asks whether this saga, with cancer seen as cellular overproduction, reveals close connections with gender construction and the symbolic importance of breasts, concluding that it does not and that the language used really was neutral rather than sexual.She then looks at amputations and artificial limbs, seeing amputation as a threat to the whole masculine body that could be countered by prostheses almost undetectable to the observer. This allows reflection on illustration, where curiously disembodied hands are shown carrying out amputations; on dissembling and artificiality; on materialism; and on metaphors of wholeness and replacement and of extending senses and capacities. We see some extraordinary advertisements where men with artificial legs climb ladders and skate, perhaps on thin ice. The final chapter examines deformity, with monsters and freaks . P. T. Barnum is prominent here, but interesting links are also made to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and its successors and the numerous museums that were such a feature of the Victorian period. They are strikingly placed in a continuum, rather than opposed, in a discussion of chaos and order, capitalism and health, deformity and degeneration. Wonder is presented as the key to modern sensibility, and there is a nice quotation on page 152: “If Beauty and the Beast should be brought into competition in London at the present day, Beauty would stand no chance against the Beast in the race for popularity.” Readers will have been led into a fascinating world at the periphery of the respectable science that most of us study and will rejoice in the extraordinary sights they see. (shrink)
Ever since its first publication in 1992, The End of History and the Last Man has provoked controversy and debate. Francis Fukuyama's prescient analysis of religious fundamentalism, politics, scientific progress, ethical codes, and war is as essential for a world fighting fundamentalist terrorists as it was for the end of the Cold War. Now updated with a new afterword, The End of History and the Last Man is a modern classic.
This paper advances the view that the history of philosophy is both a kind of history and a kind of philosophy. Through a discussion of some examples from epistemology, metaphysics, and the historiography of philosophy, it explores the benefit to philosophy of a deep and broad engagement with its history. It comes to the conclusion that doing history of philosophy is a way to think outside the box of the current philosophical orthodoxies. Somewhat paradoxically, far from (...) imprisoning its students in outdated and crystallized views, the history of philosophy trains the mind to think differently and alternatively about the fundamental problems of philosophy. It keeps us alert to the fact that latest is not always best, and that a genuinely new perspective often means embracing and developing an old insight. The upshot is that the study of the history of philosophy has an innovative and subversive potential, and that philosophy has a great deal to gain from a long, broad, and deep conversation with its history. (shrink)
In this paper, I show how the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions and method converge on their treatment of the historical subject. Thinkers from both traditions claim that subjectivity is shaped by a historical worldview. Each tradition provides an account of how these worldviews are shaped, and thus how essentially historical subjective experience is molded. I argue that both traditions, although offering helpful ways of understanding the way history shapes subjectivity, go too far in their epistemic claims for the superiority (...) of subjective over positivist or academic history I propose that although the phenomenological/ hermeneutic approach to historical subjectivity is valuable for understanding both history and human nature, it cannot and ought not replace academic or what I will call ‘critical’ history. By showing the importance of historicity, and the force of historical consciousness on our actions, philosophers of history in these traditions expose the epistemic and perhaps even ethical requirement to engage in a rigorous critical history, one that recognizes the importance of historical consciousness. Such critical history is necessary to move beyond the subjective horizon of history as experienced to understand how events shaped this historical horizon. (shrink)
‘Type’ in biology is a polysemous term. In a landmark article, Paul Farber (Journal of the History of Biology 9(1): 93–119, 1976) argued that this deceptively plain term had acquired three different meanings in early nineteenth century natural history alone. ‘Type’ was used in relation to three distinct type concepts, each of them associated with a different set of practices. Important as Farber’s analysis has been for the historiography of natural history, his account conceals an important dimension (...) of early nineteenth century ‘type talk.’ Farber’s taxonomy of type concepts passes over the fact that certain uses of ‘type’ began to take on a new meaning in this period. At the closing of the eighteenth century, terms like ‘type specimen,’ ‘type species,’ and ‘type genus’ were universally recognized as referring to typical, model members of their encompassing taxa. But in the course of the nineteenth century, the same terms were co-opted for a different purpose. As part of an effort to drive out nomenclatural synonymy – the confusing state of a taxon being known to different people by different names – these terms started to signify the fixed and potentially atypical name-bearing elements of taxa. A new type concept was born: the nomenclatural type. In this article, I retrace this perplexing nineteenth century shift in meaning of ‘type.’ I uncover the nomenclatural disorder that the new nomenclatural type concept dissolved, and expose the conceptual confusion it left in its tracks. What emerges is an account of how synonymy was suppressed through the coinage of a homonym. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 441 - 456 Several kinds of historical alternatives are distinguished. Different kinds of historical alternatives are valuable to the practice of history for different reasons. Important uses for historical alternatives include representing different sides of historical disputes; distributing chances of different outcomes over alternatives; and offering explanations of why various alternatives did _not_ in fact happen. Consideration of counterfactuals about what would have happened had things been different in particular ways plays particularly (...) useful roles in reasoning about historical analogues of current conditions; reasoning about causal claims; and in evaluating historical explanations. When evaluating the role of alternative histories in historical thinking, we should keep in mind the uses of historical alternatives that go well beyond the long-term and specific scenarios that are the focus of so-called “counterfactual history”. (shrink)
The chapter begins with an initial survey of ups and downs of contextualist history of philosophy during the twentieth century in Britain and America, which finds that historically serious history of philosophy has been on the rise. It then considers ways in which the study of past philosophy has been used and is used in philosophy, and makes a case for the philosophical value and necessity of a contextually oriented approach. It examines some uses of past texts and (...) of history that reveal limits to noncontextual history, including Strawson's Kant, Rorty's grand diagnosis of the Western tradition, and Friedman on Kant's philosophy of mathematics. It then considers ways in which the history of philosophy may become philosophically deeper by becoming more historical, and instances in which history of philosophy of various stripes has or may deliver a philosophical payoff. Along the way, it urges historians of philosophy to attend not only to individual philosophers and their problems and projects, but also to the larger shape of the history of philosophy and its narrative themes. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 211 - 234 This article has three main interconnected aims. First, I illustrate the historiographical conceptions of three early analytic philosophers: Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein. Second, I consider some of the historiographical debates that have been generated by the recent historical turn in analytic philosophy, looking at the work of Scott Soames and Hans-Johann Glock, in particular. Third, I discuss Arthur Danto’s _Analytic Philosophy of History_, published 50 years ago, and argue for a (...) reinvigorated analytic philosophy of history. (shrink)
Although history is the pre-eminent part of the gallant sciences, philosophers advise against it from fear that it might completely destroy the kingdom of darkness—that is, scholastic philosophy—which previously has been wrongly held to be a necessary instrument of theology.
William Whewell raised a series of objections concerning John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science which suggested that Mill’s views were not properly informed by the history of science or by adequate reflection on scientific practices. The aim of this paper is to revisit and evaluate this incisive Whewellian criticism of Mill’s views by assessing Mill’s account of Michael Faraday’s discovery of electrical induction. The historical evidence demonstrates that Mill’s reconstruction is an inadequate reconstruction of this historical episode and the (...) scientific practices Faraday employed. But a study of Faraday’s research also raises some questions about Whewell’s characterization of this discovery. Thus, this example provides an opportunity to reconsider the debate between Whewell and Mill concerning the role of the sciences in the development of an adequate philosophy of scientific methodology.Keywords: Inductivism; Experiment; Theory; Methodology; Electromagnetism. (shrink)
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
Despite the centrality of the idea of history to Dewey's overall philosophical outlook, his brief treatment of philosophical issues in history has never attracted much attention, partly because of the dearth of the available material. Nonetheless, as argued in this essay, what we do have provides for the outlines of a comprehensive pragmatist view of history distinguished by an emphasis on methodological pluralism and a principled opposition to thinking of historical knowledge in correspondence terms. The key conceptions (...) of Dewey's philosophy of history outlined in this paper -- i.e. historical constitution of human nature, constructivist ontology of historical events, as well as the belief that the proper form of historical judgments is underwritten by the category of continual change -- are discussed with a view to the current challenges in philosophy of history, e.g. the contest between naturalism and rationalism, objectivity and relativism, questions surrounding the function of narrative in history, and the relationship of history to the problems of identity and self-knowledge. The intended upshot of the essay is to suggest that Dewey's brief yet substantial analysis may be capable of supplying the guiding principles for articulating a viable and promising pragmatist (and naturalist) conception of historical knowledge. (shrink)
The history of emotions is a burgeoning field—so much so, that some are invoking an “emotional turn.” As a way of charting this development, I have interviewed three of the leading practitioners of the history of emotions: William Reddy, Barbara Rosenwein, and Peter Stearns. The interviews retrace each historian’s intellectual-biographical path to the history of emotions, recapitulate key concepts, and critically discuss the limitations of the available analytical tools. In doing so, they touch on Reddy’s concepts of (...) “emotive,” “emotional regime,” and “emotional navigation,” as well as on Rosenwein’s “emotional community” and on Stearns’s “emotionology” and offer glimpses of each historian’s ongoing research. The interviews address the challenges presented to historians by research in the neurosciences and the like, highlighting the distinctive contributions offered by a historical approach. In closing, the interviewees appear to reach a consensus, envisioning the history of emotions not as a specialized field but as a means of integrating the category of emotion into social, cultural, and political history, emulating the rise of gender as an analytical category since its early beginnings as “women’s history” in the 1970s. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers are often said to be indifferent or even hostile to the history of philosophy – that is, not to the idea of history of philosophy as such, but regarded as a species of the genus philosophy rather than the genus history. Here it is argued that such an attitude is actually inconsistent with approaches within the philosophies of mind that are typical within analytic philosophy. It is suggested that the common “argument rather than pedigree” claim (...) – that is, that claim that philosophical ideas should be evaluated only in the context of the reasons for or against them, and not in terms of historical conditions that brought them about – presupposes an early modern “egological” conception of the mind as normatively autonomous, and that such a view is in contradiction with the deeply held naturalistic predispositions of most contemporary philosophers of mind. Using the example of Wilfrid Sellars, who attempted to combine “naturalist” and “normative” considerations in his philosophy of mind, it is argued that only by treating the mind as having an artifactual dimension can these opposing considerations be accommodated. And, if the mind is at least partly understood as artifactual, then, to that extent, like all artifacts, it is to be understood via a narrative about the particular human activities in which those artifacts are produced and in which they function. (shrink)
Despite the fact that the history of eugenics in Canada is necessarily part of the larger history of eugenics, there is a special role for oral history to play in the telling of this story, a role that promises to shift us from the muddled middle of the story. Not only has the testimony of eugenics survivors already played perhaps the most important role in revealing much about the practice of eugenics in Canada, but the willingness and (...) ability of survivors to share their own oral histories makes the situation in western Canada almost unique. Conversely, I also discuss the role that oral history plays in “surviving a eugenic past”, trading on the ambiguity of this phrase to reflect both on the survivorship of those who have been viewed as subhuman via some kind of eugenic lens and on the collective legacy with which Canada’s eugenic past presents us. (shrink)
hilosophy of history and history of philosophy of science make for an interesting case of “mutual containment”: the former is an object of inquiry for the latter, and the latter is subject to the demands of the former. This article discusses a seminal turn in past philosophy of history with an eye to the practice of historians of philosophy of science. The narrative turn by Danto and Mink represents both a liberation for historians and a new challenge (...) to the objectivity of their findings. I will claim that good sense can be made of “working historical veins of possibility” (contrary to how the phrase was originally intended) and that already Danto and Mink provided materials (although they did not quite advertise them as such) to assuage fears of a constructivist free-for-all. (shrink)
Investigators of animal behavior since the eighteenth century have sought to make their work integral to the enterprises of natural history and/or the life sciences. In their efforts to do so, they have frequently based their claims of authority on the advantages offered by the special places where they have conducted their research. The zoo, the laboratory, and the field have been major settings for animal behavior studies. The issue of the relative advantages of these different sites has been (...) a persistent one in the history of animal behavior studies up to and including the work of the ethologists of the twentieth century. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 433 - 440 Historical explanations are a form of counterfactual history. To offer an explanation of what happened, historians have to identify causes, and whenever they identify causes, they immediately conjure up a counterfactual history, a parallel world. No one doubts that there is a great deal of distance between science fiction novelists and the world’s great historians, but along an important dimension, they are playing the same game.
Debates concerning the character, scope, and warrant of abductive inference have been active since Peirce first proposed that there was a third form of inference, distinct from induction and deduction. Abductive reasoning has been dubbed weak, incoherent, and even nonexistent. Part, at least, of the problem of articulating a clear sense of abductive inference is due to difficulty in interpreting Peirce. Part of the fault must lie with his critics, however. While this article will argue that Peirce indeed left a (...) number of puzzles for interpreters, it will also contend that interpreters should be careful to distinguish discussion of the formal and strictly epistemic question of whether and how abduction is a sound form of inference from discussions of the practical goals of abduction, as Peirce understood them. This article will trace a history of critics and defenders of Peirce’s notion of abduction and discuss how Peirce both fueled the confusion and in fact anticipated and responded to several recurring objections. (shrink)
Quentin Skinner’s appropriation of speech act theory for intellectual history has been extremely influential. Even as the model continues to be important for historians, however, philosophers now regard the original speech act theory paradigm as dated. Are there more recent initiatives that might reignite theoretical work in this area? This article argues that the inferentialism of Robert Brandom is one of the most interesting contemporary philosophical projects with historical implications. It shows how Brandom’s work emerged out of the broad (...) shift in the philosophy of language from semantics to pragmatics that also informed speech act theory. The article then goes on to unpack the rich implications of Brandom’s inferentialism for the theory and practice of intellectual history. It contends that inferentialism clarifies, legitimizes, and informs intellectual historical practice, and it concludes with a consideration of the challenges faced by inferentialist intellectual history, together with an argument for the broader implications of Brandom’s work. (shrink)
Throughout the twentieth century calls to modernize natural history motivated a range of responses. It was unclear how research in natural history museums would participate in the significant technological and conceptual changes that were occurring in the life sciences. By the 1960s, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, was among the few university-based natural history museums that were able to maintain their specimen collections and support active research. The MVZ therefore provides a (...) window to the modernization of natural history. This paper concentrates on the directorial transitions that occurred at the MVZ between 1965 and 1971. During this period, the MVZ had four directors: Alden H. Miller (Director 1940–1965), an ornithologist; Aldo Starker Leopold (Acting Director 1965–1966), a conservationist and wildlife biologist; Oliver P. Pearson (Director 1966–1971), a physiologist and mammalogist; and David B. Wake (Director 1971–1998), a morphologist, developmental biologist, and herpetologist. The paper explores how a diversity of overlapping modernization strategies, including hiring new faculty, building infrastructure to study live animals, establishing new kinds of collections, and building modern laboratories combined to maintain collections at the MVZ’s core. The paper examines the tensions between the different modernization strategies to inform an analysis of how and why some changes were institutionalized while others were short-lived. By exploring the modernization of collections-based research, this paper emphasizes the importance of collections in the transformation of the life sciences. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
C. J. Temminck, director of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (now the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden) and a renowned ornithologist, gained his contemporary's respect thanks to the description of many new species and to his detailed monographs on birds. He also published a small number of works on biogeography describing the fauna of the Dutch colonies in South East Asia and Japan. These works are remarkable for two reasons. First, in them Temminck accurately described the species (...) composition of poorly explored regions, like the Sunda Islands and Japan. Secondly, he formulated a new law on the geographical distribution of animals around the globe, based on the parallels he observed between the fauna from Europe, Asia and Japan. The underlying ideas that lead Temminck to this law were the typeconcept, which he understood as the ideal morphological plan behind animal form, the unchanging character of the species and a strong belief in nature's divine design. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the type-and the species-concept, the origin and fixity of the species and the meaning of variations aroused heated discussions. When put in the context of his time, Temminck emerges as a scientist whose work was driven by the dominating scientific philosophy of the time in which he lived, under the influence of late eighteenth century natural history and of French empiricists, in particular, the great zoologist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier. Temminck's detailed descriptions of the Dutch East Indian fauna helped the great naturalists after him to understand nature's patterns and to propose comprehensive theories that explain its diversity. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 24 This article has three main interconnected aims. First, I illustrate the historiographical conceptions of three early analytic philosophers: Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein. Second, I consider some of the historiographical debates that have been generated by the recent historical turn in analytic philosophy, looking at the work of Scott Soames and Hans-Johann Glock, in particular. Third, I discuss Arthur Danto’s _Analytic Philosophy of History_, published 50 years ago, and argue for a reinvigorated analytic philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>history. (shrink)
This article offers a defense of the theoretical foundations of Conceptual History. While Conceptual History has successfully established itself as an historical discipline, details in the philosophy of language that underpin Conceptual History continue to be opaque. Specifically the definition of what constitutes a “basic concept” remains problematic. Reinhart Koselleck famously claimed that basic concepts are “more than words,” but he never spelled out how these abstract entities relate to words or can be subject to semantic transformation. (...) I argue that to clarify the definition of what constitutes a basic concept we should turn to the functionalist and inferentialist philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars. By viewing historical sources as partaking in what Sellars calls the ‘game of giving and asking for reasons,’ Conceptual History can accurately trace the semantic changes of basic concepts and thus offer an important tool to the historical discipline. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 25 I explore the role of practical necessity in Kant’s essay _Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim_. This form of necessity arises on the basis of social and interstate antagonism and Kant appeals to it with the aim of avoiding the introduction of a standpoint that is external to the agents whose attitudes and actions are being described. In connection with the role that Kant accords to practical necessity in the establishment of (...) the legal and political conditions required to fulfil the ‘plan of nature’ in the course of history, I argue that in this essay he fails to identify a mechanism that would explain a fundamental moral change in that which motivates human beings once these conditions have been established. This in turn invites questions concerning the kind of universal history that Kant proposes. In particular, I argue that the choice of historical material that it demands could, in certain circumstances, be regarded as counterpurposive in relation to the aim of nature of which Kant speaks in the same essay. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 279 - 303 Every political philosopher has a philosophy of political history, if sometimes not a very good one. Oakeshott and Collingwood are two twentieth century political philosophers who were particularly concerned with the significance of history for political philosophy; and who both, in the 1940s, sketched what I call philosophies of political history: that is, systematic schemes which could make sense of the entire history of political philosophy. In (...) this article I observe that Oakeshott depended for the political threefold sketched in his Introduction to Hobbes’s _Leviathan_ on a threefold Collingwood had developed in relation to science in _The Idea of Nature_. This is, I think, a novel observation. I contrast this political threefold with Collingwood’s own political threefold in _The New Leviathan_. I then consider the neglect of these schemes, along with the rare attempts to defend such philosophies of history in the writings of Greenleaf and Boucher. My own claim is that these philosophies of political history are exemplary: and that the threefold is, for obvious Hegelian reasons, a still useful form for this sort of reflection. Political philosophy is likely to improve the more it takes the philosophy of political history seriously. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, the (...) origin of the civil institution of justice and government is not linked directly to external circumstances and the principles of human nature, as it is in contractarian theories, but makes a detour through the historical acquisition of certain concepts. Because Hume's position does not conform in any simple sense to Dugald Stewart's 'incontrovertible logical maxim' that the capacities of the human mind have been the same in all ages, Stewart's account of the method of conjectural history is, in any simple sense, inadequate as a description of Hume's practice. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 19 The theory of possible worlds has been minimally employed in the field of theory and philosophy of history, even though it has found a place as a tool in other areas of philosophy. Discussion has mostly focused on arguments concerning counterfactual history’s status as either useful or harmful. The theory of possible worlds can, however be used also to analyze historical writing. The concept of textual possible worlds offers an interesting framework to work (...) with for analyzing a historical text’s characteristics and features. However, one of the challenges is that the literary theory’s notion of possible worlds is that they are metaphorical in nature. This in itself is not problematic but while discussing about history, which arguably deals with the real world, the terminology can become muddled. The latest attempt to combine the literary and philosophical notions of possible worlds and apply it to historiography came from Lubomír Doležel in his _Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage_. I offer some criticism to his usage of possible worlds to separate history and fiction, and argue that when historiography is under discussion a more philosophical notion of possible worlds should be prioritized over the metaphorical interpretation of possible worlds. (shrink)
The prediction defended in this paper is that over the next fifty years we will see a return of the ancient tradition of “universal history”; but this will be a new form of universal history that is global in its practice and scientific in its spirit and methods. Until the end of the nineteenth century, universal history of some kind seems to have been present in most historiographical traditions. Then it vanished as historians became disillusioned with the (...) search for grand historical narratives and began to focus instead on getting the details right through document-based research. Today, however, there are many signs of a return to universal history. This has been made possible, at least in part, by the detailed empirical research undertaken in the last century in many different fields, and also by the creation of new methods of absolute dating that do not rely on the presence of written documents. The last part of the paper explores some of the possible consequences for historical scholarship of a return to a new, scientific form of universal history. These may include a closer integration of historical scholarship with the more historically oriented of the sciences, including cosmology, geology, and biology. Finally, the paper raises the possibility that universal history may eventually be taught in high schools, where it will provide a powerful new way of integrating knowledge from the humanities and the sciences. (shrink)
In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 51 - 75 History occupies a somewhat awkward position in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Although they often criticise history as a practice and advance alternatives that are explicitly anti-historical, such as ‘nomadology’ and ‘geophilosophy’, their scholarship is nevertheless littered with historical encounters and deeply influenced by historians such as Fernand Braudel. One of Deleuze and Guattari’s more significant engagements with history occurs through their reading and theory (...) of universal history. In this paper I will explicate and critically analyse the nature of this universal history vis-à-vis its most pertinent counterpoint: Hegel’s philosophy of world history. In contrast to Hegel’s form of historicism, which universalizes by virtue of a unitary and totalizing force, Deleuze and Guattari develop a universalizing mechanism that is strictly devoid of any privileged essence. Following, Deleuze and Guattari’s form of universal history is marked above all by contingency as opposed to necessity. In this paper I will show precisely how. I will also go on to demonstrate how Deleuze and Guattari’s universal history offers the promise of an historical ontology commensurate with the processes of creativity and becoming, provided that appropriate steps are taken to reaffirm the radical contingency at its heart. (shrink)