The French philosopher and intellectual historian Pierre Hadot (1922-2010) is known primarily for his conception of philosophy as spiritual exercise, which was an essential reference for the later Foucault. An aspect of his work that has received less attention is a set of methodological reflections on intellectual history and on the relationship between philosophy and history. Hadot was trained initially as a philosopher and was interested in existentialism as well as in the convergence between philosophy and poetry. Yet he chose (...) to become a historian of philosophy and produced extensive philological work on neo-Platonism and ancient philosophy in general. He found a philosophical rationale for this shift in his encounter with Wittgenstein's philosophy in the mid-1950s (Hadot was one of Wittgenstein's earliest French readers and interpreters). For Hadot, ancient philosophy must be understood as a series of language games, and each language game must be situated within the concrete conditions in which it happened. The reference to Wittgenstein therefore supports a strongly contextualist and historicist stance. It also supports its exact opposite: presentist appropriations of ancient texts are entirely legitimate, and they are the only way ancient philosophy can be existentially meaningful to us. Hadot addresses the contradiction by embracing it fully and claiming that his own practice aims at a coincidence of opposites (a concept borrowed from the Heraclitean tradition). For Hadot the fullest and truest way of doing philosophy is to be a philosopher and a historian at the same time. (shrink)
This article revisits what has often been called the of Voltaire's historical work. It looks at the methodological and philosophical reasons for Voltaire's deliberate focus on modern history as opposed to ancient history, his refusal to in judging the past, and his extreme selectiveness in determining the relevance of past events to world history. Voltaire's historical practice is put in the context of the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns, and considered in a tradition of universal history going back (...) to Bossuet and leading up to nineteenth-century German historicism. Paradoxically, Voltaire is a major figure in the history of historiography not in spite of his presentism (as Ernst Cassirer and Peter Gay have argued), but because of it. (shrink)
Professor Margaret Jo Osler of the University of Calgary, an historian of early modern science and philosophy (and a member of the Board of Directors of the Journal of the History of Philosophy since 2002) died on September 15, 2010. Born on November 27, 1942, she proudly proclaimed herself to be a "red diaper baby" and particularly delighted in telling her right-wing friends how her middle name was her parents' homage to Stalin. An energetic scholar with a vibrant and positive (...) personality, Maggie, as everyone who worked with her came to call her, never considered retirement and was actively working right up to her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer in early July, 2010.After graduating from Swarthmore College in .. (shrink)
THE PURPOSE OF THE ARTICLE IS TO SUPPORT KEMP SMITH’S INTERPRETATION THAT PHILO, IN THE "DIALOGUES", SPEAKS FOR HUME "FROM START TO FINISH." THIS INTERPRETATION HAS RECENTLY BEEN QUESTIONED BY PROFESSOR JAMES NOXON WHO BELIEVES THAT PHILO IS A TRUE PYRRHONIAN SCEPTIC AND THEREFORE DOES NOT REPRESENT THE MITIGATED SCEPTICISM OF HUME. I SUPPORT KEMP SMITH’S INTERPRETATION BY SUGGESTING WHY PHILO SEEMS TO REVERSE HIMSELF AT THE END OF THE "DIALOGUES" AND TO ACCEPT THE DESIGN ARGUMENT AS SUPPORT FOR A (...) VAGUE SORT OF THEISM: HUME INTENDS PHILO’S ’REVERSAL’ TO APPEASE NOT THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT WHICH HE DESPISES, BUT THE SCIENTIFIC ESTABLISHMENT WHICH HE RESPECTS. (shrink)
A CLOSE READING OF HUME’S ESSAY, "OF MIRACLES", REVEALS THAT HUME SPECIFICALLY AIMS HIS SCEPTICAL ARGUMENT AT THE PROOF OF CHRISTIAN REVELATION VIA FULFILLED PROPHETIC PREDICTIONS AS WELL AS AT MIRACLES. JOHNSON IS UNAWARE OF THIS FACT AND SO I CONCLUDE THAT HE HIMSELF HAD NOT READ THE ESSAY CLOSELY, THAT HE PROBABLY ONLY KNEW THE GENERAL OUTLINES OF THE ARGUMENT AT SECOND HAND THROUGH BOSWELL.
Self-Interest before Adam Smith inquires into the foundations of economic theory. It is generally assumed that the birth of modern economic science, marked by the publication of The Wealth of Nations in 1776, was the triumph of the 'selfish hypothesis'. Yet, as a neo-Epicurean idea, this hypothesis had been a matter of controversy for over a century and Smith opposed it from a neo-Stoic point of view. But how can the Epicurean principles of orthodox economic theory be reconciled with the (...) Stoic principles of Adam Smith's philosophy? Pierre Force shows how Smith's theory refutes the 'selfish hypothesis' and integrates it at the same time. He also explains how Smith appropriated Rousseau's 'republican' critique of modern commercial society, and makes the case that the autonomy of economic science is an unintended consequence of Smith's 'republican' principles. (shrink)