System and History in Philosophy: On the Unity of Thought by Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak

By Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak

Booklet by way of Peperzak, Adriaan Theodoor

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Example text

Someone who truly reflects on genuine problems is very concrete; a great thinker is distinguished by his extreme sensitivity to the prevailing situation — enabling him to Page 32 discover the historical roots and background of the "here and now" and the seeds of tomorrow — and his ability to go beyond the superficial meaning of current events.  Sailing on the waves of fashionable chatter has little to do with philosophy, even when such sailing is brought into logically perfect form and clarity.

I need good enemies to lead the fight for more truth.  Discrimination, a careful cultivation of relationships, and a passion for battling with great opponents and good strangers are strongly needed, in order to know which philosophies have to be studied.  Like every history, the history of thought, too, is determined to a certain degree by coincidences and influences arising not from the thinking individual, but from external circumstances: colleagues who attack him, reviews that misunderstand or excoriate his works, students he cannot convince, or texts that he reads by chance.

All orientation and acquaintance, explanation and commentary would then belong to the one all­encompassing historical practice of philosophy, and the construction of a system would be nothing more than a specific kind of continuation of remote or recent pasts.  A "literal" translation of the Summa into twentieth­century English, for example, changes its entire meaning; one cannot avoid this by adding notes and commentaries explaining the difference in the meanings of 'substance', 'accident', 'matter' and 'nature' in the thirteenth century and today.

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