“The history of philosophy, like the history of any other part of mankind’s intellectual achievements, needs to be written and rewritten by every generation in terms of what is of importance to present-day intellectuals. Philosophy itself develops in specific historical and cultural contexts.” -
Richard Popkin, The Columbia History of Western Philosophy
Man’s progress, as a ‘rational animal’, is deemed to be exponential: our reasoning minds have the capacity to revolutionize the way we think, and possibly, contributes to the transformation of our view or understanding of the world. The time and cultural background, thus, has a significant implication in an individual’s ideas and its development as an ‘idea’; it influences the development of that particular idea to some extent. A philosopher’s way of thinking, and the ‘products’ of that way of thinking— the ideas themselves, are said to influenced by the historical context wherein it developed.
But perhaps the assumption, that history influences developments in philosophy, is not at all complete, in my opinion. It is man’s degree of awareness, his achievements and discoveries— rather, that is exponential; positively correlating man’s degree of reasoning with the sum of all existing knowledge that he acquired does not necessarily follow. In other words, it does not entail that even if we acquire a vast ‘library’ of knowledge, the way we acquired them—or the way we have processed that enormous information in our thinking brain— does not alter radically. Reasoning is a constant; thinking, a nearly immutable process. The ideas brought about by our reasoning are variables: we could produce much of it, as long as we think. We could reinvent ideas, change our perspectives in seeing these ideas, and most importantly, unveil more ideas in the preexisting sets of ideas; but our way of reasoning will not alter. The substance in our reasoning is the same; but the substances of our separate ideas, which are products of...
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