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Book Chapter

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Source Publication

Bustamante, Thomas da Rosa de, and Thiago Lopes Decat. Philosophy of Law as an Integral Part of Philosophy : Essays on the Jurisprudence of Gerald J. Postema . First edition., Hart Publishing, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020, doi:10.5040/9781509933914.


Friedrich Nietzsche had this to say about philosophers:

"You ask me which of the philosophers’ traits are really idiosyncrasies? For example, their lack of historical sense, their hatred of the very idea of becoming, their Egypticism. They think that they show their respect for a subject when they de-historicize it, sub specie aeterni – when they turn it into a mummy. All that philosophers have handled for thousands of years have been concept-mummies; nothing real escaped their grasp alive. When these honorable idolators of concept worship something, they kill it and stuff it; they threaten the life of everything they worship. Death, change, old age, as well as procreation and growth, and to their minds objections – even refutations. Whatever has being does not become; whatever becomes does not have being."

Rather than take offence, many philosophers these days will consider Nietzsche's words a compliment. Bernard Williams reported on a fellow philosopher who had told him that ‘the history of philosophy is no more part of philosophy than the history of science is part of science’. In a similar vein, Tom Sorell observed that ‘the techniques and predilections of analytic philosophy are not only unhistorical but anti-historical’. The majority of Anglophone legal philosophers are no different. HLA Hart once wrote that ‘[a]nalytical and historical inquiries provide answers to different questions not different answers to the same questions’. Sixty years later Andrei Marmor expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote, ‘[t]he motivation for claiming that P is one thing, and the truth of P is another. The former is the business of intellectual historians. Philosophy should be interested in truth.’

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