History of Philosophy in Practice: Some Thoughts on Historicism and Realism

Vili Lähteenmäki (Senior Lecturer, University of Oulu)
16.05.2023, 16h (Finnish Time)

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My talk consists of two parts. In the first part, I will describe what I take to be a legitimate and called for methodological approach to certain questions germane to past theories in philosophy of mind (broadly understood). More specifically, I will defend a claim that has been made by Kaukua & Lähteenmäki that a historian of philosophy has to rely on ‘non-textual standards of interpretation’. They are needed, because if we allow ourselves to reconstruct a historical theory exclusively from the concepts and ideas that are explicitly mentioned in the sources, we run the risk of making them incomprehensible to us. These standards are defined as heuristic postulations of relevant features of the world as immune to historical variation—hence they come with a distinctive realist flavour. In the second part, I will reflect on the relation between such standards guiding the work of a historian of philosophy and some claims made about historicism and/or antirealism within the field of philosophy of history. The question I wish to thus bring forth (without a promise for a resolute answer) is whether the positions of the historian of philosophy and the philosopher of history are compatible.

Last updated: 9.5.2023