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This article argues that the history if feminism is an integral part of the canon of philosophy. There is a dialectic relationship between modern philosophy and modern feminism, i.e. they both influence each other and develop along parallel courses. Inspired by Richard Rortys The historiography of philosophy the article argues that there is a canon of feminist thinking hidden in the history of philosophy, which needs to be mapped out. The main purpose of the article is neither to criticize, add, challenge or reject canon, but to argue for a plurality of canon(s). To canonize that which has withheld from canonization implies expanding the canon.
This article is written as a contribution to the discussion addressing the exclusion of women philosophers from the history of philosophy, hence from the philosophical canon. One possible explanation on why women philosophers are excluded from the canon could be that they have not written philosophical works of good quality. This article will discuss the plausibility of this explanation. There seems to be consensus in academic philosophy that canonized texts are good or at least representative philosophy, and students are trained in philosophy trough excerpts from canonical texts. The word canon means “rule” or “guide”, and canonical texts sets the standard for philosophy altogether. But who decides what sort of work is to count as philosophy? This article discuss whether certain features – e.g. dualisms like reason versus emotions and central assumptions like rationality and universalism – combined with the use of certain literary forms, e.g. letters, may have caused some of the exclusion of women philosophers.
The canon of Western philosophy was formulated in the histories written during the 19th. century, without much controversy since the historians built on a consensus long established. In this article it is argued that Aristotle and Kant are the central names in this canon whereas Plato, with his strong artistic tendencies, is seen as a source of canonical restlessness. In recent times, Martin Heidegger has confirmed and reinforced the canon that was conceived during the 19th. century. H. C. Ørsted and S. Kierkegaard, two Danish writers in the late romantic period, are discussed as a case study of how the wider culture contributes to philosophical canonization in the modern age.
The paper focuses on the philosophy of the young Anton Martin Schweigaard, one of the most influential Norwegian politicians of the nineteenth century. It is argued that the often criticized arguments which Schweigaard presents against German philosophy, i.e. Kant and German idealism, bears close resemblance to arguments which may be found, not only in classical American pragmatism, but also in G.E. Moore. What Schweigaard more precisely is doing, it is argued, is to turn the arguments of the German philosophers on its head. Just as it is possible to argue, from the point of view of German philosophy, that Schweigaards empiricism approach presupposes conditions that cannot themselves be drawn from experience, it is possible to argue, from the point of view of Schweigaard, that the so-called conditions of the possibility of experience themselves must be drawn from experience.
In this paper I argue that there is an important distinction between past philosophers who are still sufficiently close to contemporary philosophy to have an actual significance on on-going philosophical research and such ones which are still relevant to modern problems in that we can recognize their questions and projects as ancestors of our own questions and projects. The class of the latter philosophical classics is fairly large, that of the former fairly restricted. I also argue that philosophers belonging to the era before post-renaissance philosophy to a significantly lesser extent are even relevant to contemporary philosophical problems than those belonging to the post- Cartesian tradition. The last part of the paper is addressing the question whether philosophy can be said to make progress. I answer, with some hesitation, in the affirmative, while stressing that classical philosophers nevertheless can claim to as much greatness as more recent ones. I also make a point of accepting that solutions to philosophical problems is compatible with the existence of a manifold of solutions to one problem. It is also important to be aware that while some philosophical problems may be too deep to permit a solution, there are many middle-sized problems in philosophy that get a solution.
Do we need histories of philosophy? If we do, what kind of histories? This article maintains that it is not possible to write a scientific or neutral history of philosophy. However, such histories could not fulfill the tasks that the history of philosophy should shoulder. The histories that we have, do fulfil these tasks. There is, however, ambivalence, and even obfuscation, in the way they do this. They are blurring the distinctions between philosophy and history of philosophy, and between history of philosophy and history of ideas. They are, however, intimately tied in to philosophys need to present itself as a basically unified discipline, and to -the attempts of this discipline to understand itself. When this self-understanding differs substantially, as between historicists and analytical philosophers, the opinons about the role the history of philosophy should play, also differ considerably. However, these differences are instructive. They tell us that the relations between philosphy and the history of philosophy should be a main area for reflections and discussions on the nature of philosophy.