Maria Rosa Antognazza: The Benefit to Philosophy of the Study of its History
Lecture by Maria Rosa Antognazza (King's College London), organized by the Department of the History of PhilosophyThis paper advances the view that the history of philosophy is both a kind of history and a kind of philosophy. Through a discussion of some examples from epistemology ('how traditional is the traditional analysis of knowledge?'), metaphysics ('thinking about matter'), and the historiography of philosophy ('philosophy and theological commitments; science and religion'), it explores the benefit to philosophy of a deep and broad engagement with its history. It comes to the conclusion that doing history of philosophy is a way to think outside the box of the current philosophical orthodoxies. Somewhat paradoxically, far from imprisoning its students in outdated and crystallized views, the history of philosophy trains the mind to think differently and alternatively about the fundamental problems of philosophy. It keeps us alert to the fact that latest is not always best, and that a genuinely new perspective often means embracing and developing an old insight. The upshot is that the study of the history of philosophy has an innovative and subversive potential, and that philosophy has a great deal to gain from a long, broad, and deep conversation with its history.