- Modelling the History of Ideas
- British Journal for the History of Philosophy
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
We propose a new method for the history of ideas that has none of the shortcomings so often ascribed to this approach. We call this method the model approach to the history of ideas. We argue that any adequately developed and implementable method to trace (dis)continuities in the history of human thought, or concept drift, will require that historians use explicit interpretive conceptual frameworks. We call these frameworks models. We argue that models enhance the comprehensibility of historical texts, and provide historians of ideas with a method that, unlike existing approaches, is susceptible neither to common holistic criticisms nor to Skinner's objections that the history of ideas yields arbitrary and biased reconstructions. To illustrate our proposal, we discuss the so-called Classical Model of Science and draw upon work in computer science and cognitive psychology.
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