This article argues that the relationship between analytical philosophy and the philosophy of intellectual history is conceptually uneasy and even antagonistic once the general philosophical viewpoints, and some particular topics, of the two perspectives are drawn out and compared. The article critically compares the philosophies of Quentin Skinner and Mark Bevir with the philosophies of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, W.V.O. Quine and Donald Davidson. Section I compares the way in which these two perspectives view the task of philosophy. Section II points to a critical difficulty in Bevir and Skinner’s use of analytical philosophy in their discussions on objectivity. In section III, another such critical juncture is identified in the topic of explanation. Finally, section IV suggests an interpretation for the character of the comparison.
See e.g., D. Kelley, The Descent of Ideas: The History of Intellectual History (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002); J.G.A. Pocock, “Foundations and Moments,” Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought, ed. A. Brett, J. Tully, and H. Hamilton-Bleakley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 37–49; K. Palonen, Quentin Skinner: History, Politics, Rhetoric (Cambridge: Polity, 2003); B. Young, “Intellectual History in Britain,” Palgrave Advances in Intellectual History, ed. R. Whatmore and B. Young (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2006), 25–45; I. Hampsher-Monk, “The History of Political Thought and the Political History of Thought,” The History of Political Thought in National Context, ed. I. Hampsher-Monk and D. Castiglione (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 159–175; R.N. Soffer, History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 27; and D. Boucher, Texts in Context: Revisionist Methods for Studying the History of Ideas (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1985), 193–251.
Wittgenstein quoted in R. Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (London: Jonathan Cape, 1990), 307. See also Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §109; and R. Monk, “Biography and Theory Reconsidered: Second Thoughts,” New Formations, 68 (2009), 134–143.
See e.g D. Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984). For a good introduction to this difficult writer and thinker see S. Evnine, Donald Davidson (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).
Collingwood to Croce, 5 January1928, “Lettere di Robin George Collingwood a Benedetto Croce (1912–1939),” Rivista di storia della filosofia, 45 (1991), 545–563, 555.
Q. Skinner, “The Rise of, Challenge to and Prospects for a Collingwoodian Approach to the History of Political Thought,”The History of Political Thought in National Contexts, ed. I. Hampsher-Monk and D. Castiglione (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 175–189; M. Bevir, “Universality and Particularity in the Philosophy of E.B. Bax and R.G. Collingwood,” History of the Human Sciences, 12 (1999), 55–69.
P. Gardiner, “Introduction,”The Philosophy of History, ed. P. Gardiner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 1–17. This was a reading shared by another type of philosophy that rose to prominence after the Second World War in the United States, brought to life by German émigré philosophers such as Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt. See e.g. L. Strauss, “On Collingwood’s Philosophy of History,” The Review of Metaphysics, 5 (1952), 559–586.