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A Defense of Anachronism: Contextualism and Speculation in the History of Philosophy and Science

講者|凃子謙 (布里斯托爾大學講師)
Speaker|Tzuchien Tho, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol

近幾十年來,科學史和哲學史領域的方法論發生了非常深刻的革命。近年來語境主義(contextualism)已成為占主導地位的方法,這種觀點認為哲學和科學歷史發展只能在其時間範圍內具有意義,而所有意義只能在互聯的言語行為 (speech act) 中產生。因此所有歷史文件的考察都務必建立在這種言語行為的情境之上.當然語境主義所施加的嚴格規範為這些領域提供了一些新的嚴格性,並為挑戰以前的學術提供了觀點。 但是,語境主義涉及一種循環邏輯。話語的含義需要的是互聯的言語行為,但是語境的建立原本就需要的是一組已經鑑定為歷史性的言語行為. 在某些情況下可以達到此標準所規定的經驗嚴謹性似乎是合理的,但很顯然,大多數的歷史工作都無法逃脫這種循環。 透過分析一些示例的循環邏輯, 我們試著辯護語境主義最主要的禁忌: 時序錯置推測的至關重要性。這種對歷史錯誤的辯護也將有助於說明歷史學科能夠超越一種古物好奇心的能力與重要性。

In the last few decades, the fields of the history of science and history of philosophy has undergone a very profound revolution. Contextualism, the view that philosophical and scientific statements can only have meaning within the context of its time, nested in the web of other speech acts, has emerged as the dominant methodology. The strict norms imposed by contextualism has provided some new rigor in these fields and has provided a perspective to challenge previous scholarship. However, contextualism involves a circularity. What is the meaning of an utterance requires the context, but the context is nothing but an interpretation of a sum of historiographically significant utterances. It is plausible that some cases can rise to the empirical rigor set out by this standard but it is clear that most historical work would fail to escape the circle. By examining this circularity with some test cases, I argue that contextualism highlights the crucial importance of its main taboo, that of anachronistic speculation. This defence of anachronism will also serve to illustrate an often overlooked importance of these historical disciplines beyond that of antiquarian curiosity. SPEAKER| Tzuchien Tho is a philosopher and historian of science. He is currently lecturer at the University of Bristol. Previously, he has been affiliated with the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL), the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (Rue D’Ulm), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Research in the Humanities (University of Bucharest) and the University of Milan. He is currently working on a research project on causality in 18th century physics, focusing on the development of analytical mechanics. He is also currently working on issues related to Badiou’s mathematical ontology, the philosophy of algebra, Leibniz reception in the 20th century, and the critique of contextualism as historical methodology.


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