As opposed to that there is the practice of accepting a contemporary framework for a matter at hand—a map of possible views—and trying to place a philosopher on it. This is another idea of what interpreting a philosopher might be. But arguably that doesn’t give the philosopher a chance to teach a different framework—to be great. And this may lead to the notion that there really aren’t any great philosophers (except perhaps in the sense that some have better reputation), and that the history of philosophy is redundant.
I’ve been thinking about this, having read the beginning of Richard Moran’s and Martin Stone’s “Anscombe on Expression of Intention: An Exegesis.” They find what they present as a problem for readers of Anscombe. They say those readers don’t have a reading of Anscombe that makes her view plausible (p. 42-3).
But saying there is such a problem for those readers fails to acknowledge how disparaging these readers are towards the practice of the history of philosophy: As Moran and Stone realize, these readers are already reading Anscombe without Thomas or Wittgenstein. And this already indicates their unwillingness to DO history of philosophy. – But if so, then these readers are not going to start with Anscombe. Having discovered the implausibility, their response is likely to simply be: “She’s confused here.” They are not going to take her as a philosopher to interpret—interpret in the sense of trusting her, and working to show how her views cohere. And if that seems as if they are unwilling to learn from Anscombe—to really learn—then that’s right. They are probably unwilling.
I’m not sure this is a criticism of Moran and Stone. I’m not sure what can possibly be done to get philosophers to DO the history of philosophy—to engage in an activity they don’t seem to see.