The Uses of the Past from Heidegger to Rorty: Doing Philosophy Historically
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In this book Robert Piercey asks how it is possible to do philosophy by studying the thinkers of the past. He develops his answer through readings of Martin Heidegger, Richard Rorty, Paul Ricoeur, Alasdair MacIntyre and other historically-minded philosophers. Piercey shows that what is distinctive about these figures is a concern with philosophical pictures - extremely general conceptions of what the world is like - rather than specific theories. He offers a comprehensive and illuminating exploration of the way in which these thinkers use narrative to evaluate and criticise these pictures. The result is a powerful and original account of how philosophers use the past.
and absolute mediation are only limit ideas that, in principle, cannot be attained.15 How exactly does a post-Hegelian Kantian limit reflection for the sake of critique? Kaplan continues: Evidence of Ricoeur’s post-Hegelian Kantianism appears throughout his career in each of his philosophical meditations. The third term he creates mediates without reconciling … Ricoeur’s “third way” recognizes the aporetic quality of human experience and respects the plurality of voices and conflicting
Ricoeur has applied this method: “Each subject he takes up – the will, evil, the subject, meaning, narrative, ethics, politics, the law – he finds aporias and creative, practical responses to them” (13). Clearly, this list contains topics not obviously related to the three Kantian ideas. In opposition to Kaplan, I argue that Ricoeur does not just happen to apply his dialectical procedure to the topics of God, self, and world, as well as to a host of others. Ricoeur’s preoccupation with these
history of philosophy, we will be failing to acknowledge the peculiar and paradoxical nature of the origins of thought. We will lapse into a naive historicism or an equally naive ahistoricism. In other words, we are justified in doing philosophy historically even though we can give no positive argument showing that the historical thesis is true. What justifies this project is simply the bankruptcy of its alternatives. Perhaps we can use this general line of thinking as a justification for doing
invoke certain parallels with psychoanalysis. A psychoanalyst treats a present dysfunction by tracing it back to its origin in some past trauma. This process both explains why the dysfunction exists and helps free the patient from its influence. Similarly, when we trace a deceptive picture back to its origin, we simultaneously learn about the limits on our thinking and are helped to overcome them. The diagnostic approach is therefore different from the critical. Both engage in “criticism,” in a
himself published, we could never learn what Nietzsche knew perfectly well, what he carefully prepared and continually thought through, yet withheld. Only an investigation of the posthumously published notes in Nietzsche’s own hand will provide a clearer picture” (N2, 15). Heidegger also ignores Nietzsche’s perspectivism – that is, his strategy of saying different and often incompatible things about the same topic. Rather than considering a passage in the context of others that seem to contradict