The history of ideas deals with the elemental unit-ideas which for Lovejoy are components of systems distinguished by their patterns. Special histories explain how a particular form of human history developed. General histories draw on special histories to document or explain social contexts. Since patterns influence philosophers, the history of ideas contributes little to the history of philosophy, a discontinuous strand within a period's continuous intellectual history. By accepting cultural pluralism, denying the monistic position that there always are internal connections (...) among all or some strands of intellectual and cultural history, both continuity and change in philosophy can be best understood. (shrink)
Laws through which we explain particular events need not be laws which describe uniform sequences of events; they may be laws stating uniform connections between two types of factor contained within a complex event. Hempel's apparent insistence that laws state the conditions invariably accompanying a type of complex event, that the event be an instance of the laws "covering" it, results from the Humean analysis in which causation obtains between types of events and "the cause" means necessary conditions. But historians (...) often depict sufficient conditions. On the other hand, some knowledge of general laws is a presupposition of Dray's "continuous series" model of historical explanation. (shrink)
Frequently, throughout the history of modern philosophy, it has been held that although claims to knowledge can be adequately defended against relativistic arguments, judgments of value cannot. Positions of this type were widely accepted in Anglo-American philosophy during the last half-century. To be sure, some philosophers have at all times attacked such a dichotomy, holding that arguments similar to those which justify a rejection of relativism is mistaken in both spheres. Recently, however, there has been an attack on the same (...) dichotomy from the opposite direction. An increasing number of philosophers have accepted positions that lead to a relativization of judgments of fact as well as of judgments of value. This tendency has many independent roots, and those who accept it in one form or another may hold antithetical positions on a variety of other issues. I shall therefore not attempt to disentangle the presuppositions which underlie contemporary relativistic theories of knowledge, though I shall indicate some of them in passing; rather, I shall confine myself to showing that an acceptance of relativism in the theory of knowledge frequently—and perhaps always—involves a prior commitment to non-relativistic interpretations of at least some judgments concerning matters of fact. Consequently, whatever may be the case with respect to judgments of value, epistemological relativism may be said to be self-limiting. (shrink)
Histories of philosophy represent a relatively new form of historical study» and some observations are made concerning the changes in style that they have tinder gone. A crucial question for the historian of philosophy is "Who is to count as a philosopher?” An answer to this question is suggested. The question of the extent to which historians falsify the doctrines of individual philosophers by viewing them in terms of their predecessors and successors is then raised. In the second section of (...) the paper» monistic views of social and cultural life are re» jected, and a pluralistic approach is developed. This approach» it is contended, allows for emphasis on both originality and continuity in philosophic thought, and shows how philosophy is related to its social and cultural milieu without losing its identity. (shrink)
The belief of Gallie, Danto, and others that history is constructing narratives is too simplistic and neglects the role of inquiry and discovery. Teleology in history - only events relevant to a known outcome find a place in a work -while similar to that in narratives is not decisive, since in any explanation the explicandum controls the explicans to some extent. History is not recounting a linear sequence of intelligible human actions but is an analysis of a complex pattern of (...) change into factors that served to make it what it was. Social backgrounds and conditions that are influences but not actually parts of the story of actions are crucial; the fundamental relationship is part to whole, not antecedent to consequent. (shrink)
Within his metahistorical thesis, White makes three assumptions about the nature of historical writing. First, he argues that "histories proper" and "philosophies of history" differ in emphasis and not in content because both share a common narrative strategy. However, White fails to acknowledge the vast differences in scope, principles of interpretation, and meaning between the two disciplines. Second, White assumes that the activity of ordering the historical text is a poetic act. This approach ignores the fact that events and the (...) relationships of those events exist prior to and independent of the historical account. Moreover, his tropological structures are too inflexible to provide a useful understanding of historical discourse. Finally, he never questions the validity of viewing an historical work as a purely linguistic structure. In fact, whereas "histories proper" seem to have much in common to compare and to evaluate, "philosophies of history" almost never agree. (shrink)
Mill's essay on utilitarianism is reinterpreted in the light of his psychological theories. his early anonymous essay on bentham helps to define the form of psychological hedonism to which he subscribed, and this in turn explains his views on the relations of virtue and utility.