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Why philosophy should be a carnival, not a museum

Jonathan Rée's new history turns philosophical history on its head

By Alex Dean   July 2019
Great Englishman: David Hume

Great Englishman: David Hume

Histories of philosophy are the first thing recommended to newcomers to the discipline. As Jonathan Rée writes in his latest book, without them “no philosophical education would be complete.” But do they actually teach us new things about the great thinkers of the past? For Rée, one of Britain’s best-known living philosophers, the answer has often been “no.”

The problem, as Rée sees it, is that many historians of philosophy tend to “guard over the values of their discipline”—they repeat lessons passed…

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