Analytic Philosophy and History of Philosophy: The Development of the Idea of Rational Reconstruction

  • Michael Beaney
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Analytic philosophy has had an uneasy relationship with the discipline of history of philosophy1 throughout its life. Analytic philosophers often either scorn or simply ignore history of philosophy. Where interpretations have been offered of past philosophical works, in what we can call ‘analytic’ history of philosophy, they have tended to be ‘rational reconstructions’. In recent years, however, philosophers trained in the analytic tradition have begun to look at the history of analytic philosophy itself more seriously, and the debate about the relationship between philosophy and history of philosophy has been brought closer to home. In this chapter, I consider some of the philosophical and historiographical presuppositions and implications of this debate, focusing on the idea of rational reconstruction. This idea developed alongside analytic philosophy itself and holds the key to understanding one central thread in the history of the relationship between analytic philosophy and history of philosophy.


Actual History Rational Reconstruction Historical Reconstruction Logical Construction Hermeneutic Circle 
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