What does biography (of philosophers) have to do with philosophy

A helpful summary article in the Chronicle on the proliferation of biographies of philosophers. The central question is whether biography of philosophers illuminates the philosophy itself. Lots of people say there's nothing one can say about there other. Others say that all philosophy is biography. Here's one case where I steer a middle path. I'm beginning to see the value of philosophical biography, as a part of a larger enterprise: the history of philosophy. History of philosophy is beginning a resurgance, and with good reason. Often by looking back to see the context in which an idea/concept/argument/trope was introduced, you see more clearly how it operates and how it is currently used. Philosophical biography is an important component of the history of philosophy itself.


I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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