Reflections on the discipline of philosophy and its history

  • Sharon Rider Uppsala universitet


This essay deals with the relationship between the history of philosophy as an area of scholarly research and the history of philosophy as a necessary part of the individual thinker's self-examination. It is suggested that both internalist and externalist readings of the canon tend to stress the intellectual products of philosophical reflection in terms of their function as representative for a collective, be it synchronic or diachronic, rather than as examples of how to think through a problem by means of intellectual self-scrutiny. Citing historical cases, it argues that the latter captures the aim and meaning of philosophy as it was understood by thinkers of the past, but that the increased institutionalization of the discipline has effectively eliminated this aspect, to the detriment of philosophy in both senses.