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Postpositivists have lately joined post-Husserlians in arguing that the deepest problem with Descartes' legacy is that it fosters the objectivist illusion that philosophers might actually come to think “from Nowhere,” or at least that they can self-consciously choose whatever presuppositions they do accept. Yet this argument is easier to express than to incorporate into one's own thinking. It is perfectly possible to oppose the View from Nowhere, and even to criticize others for failing to understand its impossibility, and still do so … as if from Nowhere. This article is concerned with such compromised opposition—that is, with critics who reject, in ahistorical terms and from an ahistorical standpoint, an ahistorical conception of philosophy. It focuses on two figures from the empiricist-positivist side of the Cartesian legacy, Rorty and Taylor, but their story is in important ways typical. Though their criticisms are certainly more radical and considerably more successful than those of many of their analytic colleagues, each retains in his own thinking more of the ahistorical or standpointless ideal than he realizes.
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Keywords: Cartesianism; Charles Taylor; Descartes; Richard Rorty; history of analytic philosophy; history of philosophy; postpositivism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824-3574, USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 July 2007

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