Philosophy and the History of Philosophy: complicated Relationship

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 philosophy’s 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.

Keywords: philosophy, history of philosphy, history of ideas