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Philosophy and the Historical Perspective$
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Marcel van Ackeren

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266298

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266298.001.0001

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date: 22 May 2022

The Alienation Effect in the Historiography of Philosophy

The Alienation Effect in the Historiography of Philosophy

(p.140) 9 The Alienation Effect in the Historiography of Philosophy
Philosophy and the Historical Perspective

Dominik Perler

, Marcel van Ackeren, Lee Klein
British Academy

It has often been said that we should enter into a dialogue with thinkers of the past because they discussed the same problems we still have today and presented sophisticated solutions to them. I argue that this ‘dialogue model’ ignores the specific context in which many problems were created and defined. A closer look at various contexts enables us to see that philosophical problems are not as natural as they might seem. When we contextualise them, we experience a healthy alienation effect: we realise that problems discussed in the past depend on assumptions that are far from being self-evident. When we then compare these assumptions to our own, we reflect on our own theoretical framework that is not self-evident either. This leads to a denaturalisation of philosophical problems—in the past as well as in the present. The author argues for this thesis by examining late medieval discussions on mental language.

Keywords:   alienation effect, denaturalisation, context, dialogue model, mental language

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