I reflect critically on the early modern philosophical canon in light of the entrenchment and homogeneity of the line up of seven core figures: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant. After distinguishing three elements of a philosophical canon -- a causal story, a set of core philosophical questions and a set of distinctively philosophical works -- I argue that recent efforts contextualizing the history of philosophy within the history of science subtly shift the central philosophical questions and allow for a greater range of figures to be philosophically central. However, the history of science is but one context in which to situate philosophical works. Looking at the historical context of 17th century philosophy of mind, one that weaves together questions of consciousness, rationality, and education, does more than shift the central questions -- it brings new ones to light. It also shows that a range of genres can to be properly philosophical, and seamlessly diversifies the central philosophers of the period.
Shapiro, L. (2016) ‘Revisiting the Early Modern Philosophical Canon’, Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 2(3), pp. 365–383. doi: 10.1017/apa.2016.27.
Journal of the American Philosophical Association
Revisiting the Early Modern Philosophical Canon
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