HOPOS: Methods and Contexts – Contextualization vs. long-term trajectories?

Jutta Schickore

Inidiana University, Bloomington

Abstract: 
Turning to the history of philosophy can mean quite different things. It can mean contextualization, i.e. examining the historical contexts of a philosophical work, concept, or movement. It can also mean “temporalization”, i.e. examining how a philosophical work, concept, or movement emerged, developed, and changed over time. Arguably, the majority of HOPOS works have been devoted to the first kind of historical study. HOPOS scholars have placed philosophical works in intellectual, institutional, political, economic, and socio-cultural contexts, and our overall understanding of philosophical concepts and approaches has profited immensely from these investigations. In the invitation to this panel, the organizers ask, among other things, whether there are specific contexts for philosophy of science that we tend to overlook or exclude. In my contribution, I would like to raise another question, namely whether we tend to overlook the second kind of historical study. Might it be that the close attention to the various contexts of philosophy of science bears a risk – the risk that we disregard the temporal dimension of philosophy of science, the long-term trajectories of philosophical thought? If this is indeed the case, then we are facing a methodological challenge. How is it possible to integrate long-term perspectives into HOPOS without losing all the benefits of contextualization?