Interpreting Modern Philosophy

Interpreting Modern Philosophy

Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 476
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  • Book Info
    Interpreting Modern Philosophy
    Book Description:

    James Collins probes the meaning and methods of historical interpretation in philosophy by analyzing the creative reciprocity between the modern source thinkers-the great classical philosophers from Descartes and Locke to Mill and Nietzsche-and their midtwentieth century interpreters.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6788-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    James Collins
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. I The Historical Turn in Contemporary Philosophy
    (pp. 3-34)

    In every creative field, but perhaps especially in philosophy, we tend to use the term “contemporary” not only in a eulogistic way but also as expressing our relief at escaping the burden of the past. The term often conveys the sense of crossing a territorial border and cutting off a bridge behind ourselves, a bridge that would have permitted the great dead philosophers to count for too much in our present inquiries. We sometimes feel that their presence would be overbearing and would inhibit our own efforts at innovation and argument. Not a historical sense of perspective but a liberation...

  5. II The Insistency of Modern Sources
    (pp. 35-96)

    In functional terms, the historian of philosophy is an inquirer who finds his way around in some region of sources and who tries to aid others to achieve a similar familiarity. Whatever theoretical and cultural comparisons he may draw from other disciplines, they can never constitute the heart of his peculiar task. Primarily, he is responsible for accepting the discipline of the sources constituting a definite era of philosophy. His effectiveness is judged, above all, by the relative skill with which he makes everything else subserve the main work of improving our understanding and use of these primary texts. The...

  6. III The Art of Historical Questioning
    (pp. 97-185)

    Anyone working in a historical discipline experiences within himself, at certain times, a sympathetic reverberation of Stephen Dedalus’s cry that history is a nightmare from which he must awake. This feeling of suffocation steals over the philosopher when he attends to the long tradition of texts and studies in his field. Then, the history of philosophy seems to be an externally imposed and pressing structure, controlled entirely by lines of investigation laid out in the far distant past and extending into one’s present activity only in order to cramp and discourage the creative mind. This is indeed a nightmarish view...

  7. IV The Interpreting Present
    (pp. 186-266)

    We sometimes imagine the history of philosophy as being a Janus-faced colossus.¹ One of its legs is firmly planted in times past and the other in the present, just as one face is pointed resolutely toward the sources and the other toward contemporary discussion. This metaphor serves a good purpose in suggesting the wide diversity of materials and comparative questions which fall within the historian’s responsibility. But it blurs over the ground of their “interface” or communicative union, and hence it cannot ward off the tendency to introduce a neat split, down the middle, between man’s historical interests looking to...

  8. V Kant Our Contemporary
    (pp. 267-344)

    The task of this chapter is to attempt to remedy a defect in the account given thus far of our historical understanding of modern philosophy. The elements in that theory have been considered primarily from the standpoint of their contribution to historical studies brought to completion in the form of books and other publications. It is proper to guide our basic analysis by these written and publicly available results, where the components in the guiding hypothesis can be observed and tested on the broadest basis of communication. But especially in a theory of historical understanding committed to the functional method,...

  9. VI Teleology of Historical Understanding
    (pp. 345-418)

    In this concluding chapter, I will make a final try at probing the knowledge pattern developed in history of modern philosophy. Until now, the emphasis has fallen upon the elements in our general theory and their unification in actual historical writings and the learning situation. Were we to stop the examination at this point, however, we would be omitting one essential requirement and one distinctive viewpoint upon the entire process of understanding the modern sources. For the co-ingredient factors show their significance not only in reference to some forms of their actual unification and expression but also in reference to...

    (pp. 419-452)
  11. Index
    (pp. 453-463)