On Anachronism in the Historiography of Philosophy

Document Type : Scientific-research



Anachronism occurs in producing a historical account if the arrangement of story’s events is manipulated and misplaced. The main question of this article is whether avoiding anachronism in the historiography of philosophy is desirable, or even feasible? Some historical methodologists and philosophers, e.g. Quentin Skinner and MurtazaMutahhari respectively, consider anachronism as a historiographical mistake. This view is formulated under the theoretical framework of “the availability principle,” according to which no epistemic resources are allowed in historical interpretation that were unavailable in the time period under study. Problem-oriented historiography of philosophy would, consequently, face serious challenges. On the contrary, some other thinkers consider certain types of anachronism in historical narrative to be desirable or even inevitable. Among this group are Arthur Danto with his “Narrative Sentences,” and AhadFaramarzQaramaleki who makes sense of historical study as “understanding predecessors in the light of successors.” Arguments of the two opposing camps are discussed in this article, together with a number of considerations explored here for the first time. In conclusion, any response to the main question of our inquiry is argued to be dependent on the very conception of history adopted in the meta-historical framework by which the process of historiography is guided.


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