Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Historical Consciousness and the Identity of Philosophy

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

It is now widely accepted that philosophers should be historically self-conscious. But what does this mean in practice? How does historical consciousness change the way we philosophize? To answer this question, I examine two philosophers who put historical consciousness at the heart of their projects: Richard Rorty and Paul Ricoeur. Rorty and Ricoeur both argue that historical consciousness leads us to see philosophy as fragmented. It leads us to view our thinking from multiple perspectives at once, perspectives that are often in considerable tension. But Rorty and Ricoeur reach radically different conclusions about how we should respond to this fragmentation. Their disagreement, I argue, is closely connected to their views of identity. Rorty and Ricoeur have different understandings of what it means for something to be unified, and thus different ideas about what it would take for our perspectives on ourselves to be brought together. My argument for this claim has four parts. First, I try to identify the problems that historical consciousness raises for philosophy, and explain why the most common response to them is unsatisfactory. Second, I discuss Rorty’s claim that historical consciousness ought to make us ironists about our philosophical views, and to abandon truth as a goal of inquiry. Third, I contrast Rorty’s position with Ricoeur’s. Ricoeur argues that we can be historically self-aware and still see philosophy as a rational enterprise that aims at truth. I argue that Ricoeur’s optimism on this point is rooted in his view of identity, and specifically in his distinction between idem- and ipse-identity. Finally, I ask what all of this shows about the options available to historically minded philosophers today.

Affiliations: 1: University of Regina Canada, Email:


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation