Preface and General Introduction, Section 1.2 — Rational Anthropology vs. Analytic Metaphysics, the Standard Picture, and Scientific Naturalism. Go to: either the APP home site, here; or APP on Medium, here.
In the fullness of time, The Rational Human Condition will also appear as a series of five e-books published by Rounded Globe, each of which, in turn, will be available in hard copy, on demand, from Out of House Publishing.
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Section 1.3 Philosophy and Its History: No Deep Difference
Rational anthropology is a contemporary version of Kant’s philosophy.
In freely going back and forth between Kant’s philosophy and contemporary philosophy, I am applying the following strong metaphilosophical principle that I call The No-Deep-Difference Thesis:
There is no fundamental difference in philosophical content between the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy.
In other words, in doing contemporary philosophy one is thereby directly engaging with the history of philosophy, and in doing the history of philosophy one is thereby directly engaging with contemporary philosophy.
And in real philosophy, there is no serious distinction to be drawn between the two.
What I mean by The No-Deep-Difference Thesis is that every authentic philosophical work is a logically governed attempt to say something comprehensive, illuminating, and necessarily (or at least universally) true about the rational human condition and our deepest values, including our relationships to each other and to the larger natural and abstract worlds that surround us, and that in order to convey this basic content it does not matter at all when the work was created or when the work is interpreted.
If I am right about this thesis, then it cuts three ways:
first, it means that everything in the history of philosophy also belongs substantively to contemporary philosophy;
second, it means that everything in contemporary philosophy also belongs substantively to the history of philosophy; and
third, it means that Quine was completely wrong when he (reportedly — there seems to be no published source for this) wickedly and wittily said that there are two kinds of philosophers: those who are interested in the history of philosophy, and those who are interested in philosophy.
In fact, there is really only one kind of authentic, serious philosopher, and whether s/he likes it or not, s/he should be deeply interested in the history of philosophy.
The sub-discipline called “History of Philosophy” is philosophy, as philosophical as it gets, and all philosophy is also History of Philosophy, as historical as it gets.
Those who on the contrary are Deep Differentists must hold that History of Philosophy is at best an enterprise in historical scholarship with a superficial philosophical inflection, but not philosophy as such, and that philosophy in effect always begins anew, from argumentative Ground Zero, with every new philosophical work that is created.
This metaphilosophical occasionalism seems to me not only very implausible as a way of thinking about the relation between philosophy and its own history, but also apt to trivialize and undermine the very practice of real philosophy itself.