Analytical Philosophy and the Philosophy of Intellectual History: A Critical Comparison and Interpretation

in Journal of the Philosophy of History
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Abstract

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.

Sections

References

1)

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.

7)

G.R. Elton, The Practice of History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002). See Skinner’s critique in “Sir Geoffrey Elton and the Cult of the Fact,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 7 (1997), 301–316.

8)

Q. Skinner, “The Limits of Historical Explanations,” Philosophy, 41 (1966), 199–215, 212.

9)

Q. Skinner, “Hermeneutics and the Role of History,” New Literary Studies, 7 (1975), 209–232.

10)

Q. Skinner, “Some Problems in the Analysis of Political Thought and Action,” Political Theory, 2 (1974), 277–303, 279.

11)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 233.

12)

Bevir, The Logic, 8.

13)

Bevir, The Logic, 8–9.

14)

J.G. Gunnell, Political Theory: Tradition and Interpretation (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Winthrop, 1979), 103, 121–122.

15)

Boucher, Texts in Context, 18.

17)

B. Young, “The Tyranny of the Definite Article: Some Thoughts on the Art of Intellectual History,” History of European Ideas, 28 (2002), 101–117.

18)

A. Megill, “Imagining the History of Ideas,” Rethinking History, 4 (2000), 333–340, 338.

20)

D. Pears, “Wittgenstein and Austin,” British Analytical Philosophy, ed. B. Williams and A. Montefiore (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 17–41.

25)

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.

31)

Austin, How to Do Things, 1.

32)

J. Searle, “J.L. Austin (1911–1960),” A Companion to Analytic Philosophy, ed. A.P. Martinich and D. Sosa (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 218–230, 222.

34)

Warnock quoted in E. Gellner, “The Crisis in the Humanities and the Mainstream of Philosophy,” Crisis in the Humanities, ed. J.H. Plumb (London: Pelican Books, 1966), 45–82, 59.

38)

R. Carnap, The Unity of Science (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1995).

39)

P.M.S. Hacker, Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 193.

40)

W.V.O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” The Philosophical Review, 60 (1951), 20–43.

41)

P. Winch, The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1990), 4.

42)

W.V.O. Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” Epistemology: An Anthology, ed. E. Sosa, et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 528–538.

43)

Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” 533.

44)

D. Davidson, “Psychology as Philosophy,” Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, ed. M. Martin and L.C. MacIntyre (Cambridge, Massachusetts: the MIT Press, 1994), 79–81, 83.

45)

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).

46)

Bevir, The Logic, 129.

47)

Bevir, The Logic, 129.

48)

Bevir, The Logic, 99.

49)

Bevir, The Logic, 99, 102–103.

50)

M. Bevir and F. Ankersmit, “Exchanging Ideas,” Rethinking History, 4 (2000), 351–372.

52)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 238.

53)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 250.

54)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 332.

55)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 250.

56)

Boucher, Texts in Context, 214.

59)

Skinner, “The Limits of Historical Explanations,” 212.

60)

Skinner, “On Performing,” 13; Skinner, Visions of Politics, 137.

61)

Skinner, “Some Problems,” 285.

62)

Skinner, “Some Problems,” 295.

63)

Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” 247.

66)

Bevir, The Logic, 65.

68)

Davidson, “Psychology as Philosophy,” 81.

69)

D. Davidson, “Aristotle’s Action,” Truth, Language, and History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 277–295, 285.

70)

Davidson, “Aristotle’s Action”, 292.

71)

M. Bevir and A. Kedar, “Concept Formation in Political Science: An Anti-naturalist Critique of Qualitative Methodology,” Perspectives on Politics, 6 (2008), 502–518, 515, n 36.

73)

Collingwood to Croce, 5 January 1928, “Lettere di Robin George Collingwood a Benedetto Croce (1912–1939),” Rivista di storia della filosofia, 45 (1991), 545–563, 555.

74)

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.

77)

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.

79)

W.H. Dray, Laws and Explanation in History (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1957).

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