The task of intellectual history
Philbrook Museum of Art. Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2014.

Philbrook Museum of Art. Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2014.

Some opening notes on intellectual history as a discipline distinct from philosophy. Prof. Kerwin Klein, of UC Berkeley, introduces his book From History to Theory with this concept of intellectual history.

One task of intellectual history is to make metaphors made strange by distance in time or space and render them in vocabularies that have meaning for us. Another is to take the metaphors with which we feel most at home and trace out the ways in which they stand on generations of older, stranger meanings.

Prof. Peter Gordon, of Harvard, distinguishes intellectual history from philosophy in his comparative essay on related disciplines.

Intellectual historians often write about philosophical topics, but as compared to their peers in philosophy, intellectual historians are: a) more interested in understanding than strong judgment, b) more willing to cross the institutional boundary-line separating the philosophical canon from the larger world of ideas, and c) more ecumenical about what sorts of ideas deserve our intellectual attention.

 

----

Gordon, P.E., 2012, "What is intellectual history?" http://history.fas.harvard.edu/people/faculty/documents/What%20_is_Intell_History%20PGordon%20Mar2012.pdf, accessed March 28, 2013.

Klein, K.L., 2011, From history to theory, University of California Press, Berkeley.

I study philosophy and social theory at the University of South Florida. I am also a photographer, map lover and sometimes poet.