Appropriation, Dialogue, and Dispute: Towards a Theory of Philosophical Engagement with the Past

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Author: Yael Gazit 1
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  • 1 Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, School of Philosophy, Linguistics and Science Studies, Tel Aviv University

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Abstract

This article suggests a change of perspective on philosophy’s engagement with its past. It argues that rather than the putative purport of giving life to the past philosopher’s work, philosophical engagement with the past gives life to one’s own. Drawing on the neo-pragmatist thesis of Robert Brandom, it suggests looking to what philosophers do when they attribute meaning to concepts and considering their engagement with the past as appropriation in consequence. By scrutinizing Robert Pippin’s opposing thesis of philosophical engagement with the past as dialogue, and carefully examining Brandom’s, the article suggests an account for appropriation that shows it to be non-dialogical, and hence unable to yield the fruits associated with this conception, but also insightful and rich with other philosophical values. Brandom and John McDowell’s dispute over the interpretation of Wilfrid Sellars provides an illustration of the proposed perspective and of those values.