On the Different Understandings of the History of Philosophy

Leszek Skowroński

This article considers the reasons for studying the history of philosophy. It makes a distinction between: (1) treating past philosophers’ texts as a source of help and inspiration for solving contemporary philosophical problems and (2) studying texts for their own sake to discover, as far as it is possible, their authorial meanings. Those who choose option (2) should consciously follow a methodology which enables them to question the assumptions of their own age and to make every effort to understand the problems which philosophers from the past tried to solve in the context of their time and within their own conceptual framework. To avoid anachronisms, historians of philosophy need to identify questions which the ancient author intended his text to answer, not the questions which we would like him to be answering, bearing in mind that thinkers of the past talked not to us but to readers of their time.


Keywords: history of philosophy · methodology · anachronism · interpretation · authorial meaning · Aristotle · Nicomachean Ethics

Leszek Skowroński – M. A. in Philosophy (Jagiellonian University), is writing his doctoral thesis on the concept of eudaimonia in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics at IFiS PAN. Research interests: Aristotle’s practical philosophy, ethics, the historiography of philosophy.   »  

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