British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century – Book Review

British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century – Book Review

“This book is the latest instalment in The Oxford History of Philosophy series. The series is supposed to weave together a new history of philosophy based on contextualist treatments of the ideas, arguments, and figures animating a specific place and time. At first hearing, it sounds exciting. Contextualist techniques and approaches have become prominent over the past twenty years. They have proved quite fruitful and illuminating and have opened important new pathways across well-trod texts and figures. Indeed, much of the progress recently made in understanding the development of philosophy is due to the adoption of contextualist techniques and approaches. However, a common criticism of contextualist history of philosophy is that it makes the history of philosophy out to be nothing but one damn thing after another: philosophical content often gets buried among a wealth of historical minutia and detail, so much so that the content gets lost and the relevance of the contextualist material is hard to see. The promise, then, of being shown how our understandings of the arc of the history of philosophy has changed thanks to the rise of contextualist history of philosophy is exciting.”

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