Meeting 23

We are using the same link as in the fall. If you don’t have it, email us at princetonbucharestseminar@gmail.com.

DATE: Tuesday, February 2

TIME: 1 PM Princeton time (EST) / 8 PM Bucharest time (GMT+2)

PANEL : Studies in the History of the History of Philosophy. A discussion on occasion of the BJHP special issue Historiographies of Philosophy 1800-1950 (vol. 28:3, 2020).

SPEAKERS: Delphine Antoine-Mahut (IHRIM, ENS de Lyon), Leo Catana (Copenhagen), Mogens Lærke (CNRS, Maison Française d’Oxford)

Participants would benefit from reading the introduction to the special issue, available in open access here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09608788.2019.1709153

ABSTRACTS:

Brief Introduction by Mogens Lærke 

1. Why do We Need a Translation of Brucker’s Historia critica philosophiae (1742-44)? Presentation of a Book Project. 

Leo Catana (University of Copenhagen)  

The German historian and minister Johann Jacob Brucker (1696–1770) is widely recognized as the father of modern historiography of philosophy. In 1742–1744, he published his Historia critica philosophiae in Leipzig. The second edition was published (again in Leipzig) in 1766– 1767. The Historia was the most comprehensive history of philosophy produced in the eighteenth century, influencing general histories of philosophy and many encyclopaedias (including those by Zedler and Diderot) over the following two hundred years. Brucker’s methodology, his criterion for the admittance of philosophers into the canon, and his characterization of individual thinkers and periods were, and remain, deeply influential, whether directly or indirectly. One of the reasons behind his influence is that his work is inaccessible to most modern readers, partly because it is composed in Latin, partly because the conversations into which he intervened are now unfamiliar; the result being that several of its historiographical positions are taken at face value and not seen as outcomes of contingent and often normative interventions. I argue that we need a modern translation of at least part of the work, which can help the modern reader to disclose the context and nature of his historiographical prepositions. 

2. Some remarks on a philosophical history of the history of philosophy: Martial Gueroult’s Dianoématique (1979-1988) 

Mogens Lærke (CNRS, Maison Française d’Oxford)  

Martial Gueroult is towering figure in of 20th Century French Historiography, in the English-speaking world perhaps best known for his monumental reconstructions of the systems of Descartes Spinoza, and Malebranche. His last major published work, however, was an account of the philosophy and history of the history of philosophy, the so-called Dianoématique, a history of the history of philosophy as a discipline in four volumes that he first drafted in the 1930s, but continued to work on for more than four decades. It was published posthumously in 1979–88 in an edition established by his most dedicated student, Ginette Dreyfus, and completed by Jules Vuillemin. Here, I will briefly discuss this understudied work and the philosophical project underlying it. 

3. Why do we need a concept of historiographical figures to do history of philosophy? 

Delphine Antoine-Mahut, ENS Lyon (IHRIM, UMR 5317 ; LabEx COMOD) 

Historians of philosophy often identify “fidelity” as a sine qua non condition for access to the “truth” of a text, understood here in the sense of what the author of that text really said, or even intended to say. This “disinterested” practice, considering in this sense the Classics as “unimportant,” would underpin its scientificity, and therefore also the shareable nature of its results. Can we challenge this conception without considering the philosophies of the past as a storehouse from which we can pick and choose the theoretical material we need to make something completely different? And what can we gain by doing so? Theorizing the concept of the philosophical figure is a possible answer to these questions. After recalling the method and the main results of my article « Philosophizing with a historiographical figure. Descartes in Degérando’s Comparative History (1804 and 1847) » (British Journal for the History of Philosophy Vol. 28, 2020, Issue 3, 533-552), I will thus open the discussion on the relevance of such a concept and on how texts from the past can be read and taught and what philosophical purpose they can possibly “serve.” 

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