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Abstract

There is prima facie evidence that Theophrastus naturalized nous to the extent that he spoke of it in naturalizing terms. But our evidence also suggests that Theophrastus accepted the reasons Aristotle had for excluding nous from the reach of natural philosophy. We show that, far from revealing an inconsistency on Theophrastus’ part, this apparent tension results from a consciously adopted strategy. Theophrastus is developing one aspect of Aristotle’s account of nous he found underdeveloped and feared might be misunderstood, namely the infrangible organic unity of the whole human being, including its nous. That is why he insists that nous, although ‘from outside,’ is ‘grown together’ with us, why he speaks of it as a nature (phusis), and why he insists that thought is a motion (kinêsis). We show how these striking claims can be understood against the broader background of Theophrastus’ natural philosophy.

Open Access
In: Phronesis
Author:

Abstract

In this criticism of Mitrović argument about realism it is pointed out 1): that Mitrović is unaware of how the medieval debate between realists and nominalists about the existence of universals complicates his position, 2) similarly, he is unaware of how the debate on the so-called ‘essentially contested concepts’ (W.B. Gallie) complicates his position, 3) when taking up the issue of holism and individualism he mistakenly assumes that what has been said about it in the context of the social sciences can also be applied to the writing of history, 4) the debate on the legal person or corporation since Innocent IV further complicates the issue. Finally, I explain why and how one can be a realist in philosophy of history, though on the basis of arguments entirely different from those proposed by Mitrović.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract

We talk about curatorship as a process in which someone carefully and thoughtfully chooses and organizes a way to present particular artworks to the public. Some have theorized that curating an art exhibit and exercising the selection and organization of artworks is very similar to telling a story. This analogy invites us to expand it and reflect on how it can help illuminate what historians do as storytellers of the past. The central point of this paper is to think of historical work as a curatorial practice. This, in turn, allows us to understand the constructive enterprise that historians engage in and challenge a rooted and prevalent commitment in the historical discipline that the past is discovered rather than constructed. Historians as curators of the past select and organize undetermined materials that become determined when subsumed under a narrative that bestows the past with a particular meaning. The analogy also serves to clarify that no epistemic or metaphysical tension need exist between a notion of the real and an acknowledgment of narrative construction.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract

This comment discusses Branko Mitrović’s view of historical anti-realism and realism. It identifies several interpretative errors and philosophical infelicities in Mitrović’s account, in particular regarding colligation, and realism itself. It is suggested that the debate between the realist and the anti-realist pertains to the statuses attributed to scientific and historical claims. Provided that anti-realism is not general skepticism about them, the burden of proof to show that such notions as ‘real,’ ‘fact,’ and ‘counterpart’ contribute to the philosophical discussion about the statuses of the claims rests on the shoulders of the realist. Furthermore, the realist should establish that the historian’s colligations can be uniquely correct and yet independent of the historian. This comment also is a plea for a more measured and rigorous philosophy of historiography.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Author:

Abstract

This article underscores the role that questions play in the production of historical knowledge. It stresses two points: (1) the questions arising from the demands of the present are the means by which historians elicit evidence from sources; (2) the questions that arose from the demands of the past are the ‘real past’ in which agents acted in search of answers. Further, by examining David Scott’s application of R.G. Collingwood’s logic of question and answer, the article points to the socio-political dangers of realist aspirations to offer definitive accounts of the past. The example indicates that the political present has much to gain from a critical historical practice attuned to the demands of past and present problem-spaces alike.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract

The question of how realism and metanarratives are related in the philosophy of history does not seem to have been widely discussed. Whereas there are distinct philosophical and political senses of ‘realism’, contrasting with ‘idealism’ and ‘utopianism’ respectively, ‘metanarrative’ has a singular meaning based on Jean-François Lyotard’s sceptical definition of postmodernism as “incredulity towards metanarratives”. Lyotard defined metanarratives as philosophies of history that serve some legitimatory function, but claimed that their importance was waning. From this point of view, postmodernism can be described as a species of philosophical ‘realism’. But the appearance of Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ thesis, which explicitly presented itself as a neo-Hegelian critique of political realism, suggested that Lyotard had underestimated the enduring power of metanarrative insofar as it served the interests of the American liberal-democratic capitalist order. For Jacques Derrida, Fukuyama’s work thus underlined the importance of breaking with what he called ‘onto-theological’ visions of history, although Derrida himself could be seen as authoring a metanarrative in the service of European social democracy. But if so, Derrida’s approach to metanarratives was very different in kind to contemporary religious and nationalistic versions. One way to resolve the difficulty is to make a distinction between modern ‘utopian’ and postmodern ‘realist’ versions of metanarratives.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Author:

Abstract

In Towards a Realist Philosophy of History, Adam Timmins sets out to develop a non-naïve form of realism that can account for the majority of the practices and products of historiography. In particular, he claims that we should be realists about facts, colligations, and narrative. While being sympathetic to some form of realism about all of these, this review essay critically discusses both Timmins’ actual arguments for historiographic realism and the approach that should be taken to the philosophical issue itself. The wider argument is that realism in historiography is a question of justification and that we therefore must turn to the empirical analysis of actual historiographic texts and debates to make any real headway on this issue.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract

In this text I analyze Frank Ankersmit’s, Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen’s, and Paul Roth’s responses to my claim that anti-realism in the philosophy of history entails that the past did not happen. I conclude that Ankersmit has failed to understand the argument I presented, Kuukkanen de facto agrees with my view, while Roth has addressed my earlier criticism of the view that the past can be changed and not the argument that is currently under discussion.

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History