The Relation Between Contemporary and Classic Philosophy

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.

Keywords: History of philosophy, contemporary Philosophy, progress, philosophical problems