Statement Of Purpose For Graduate Study

Decent Essays
Conrad Damstra
Statement of Purpose for Graduate Study
Philosophy Doctoral Program at Stanford University

I wouldn’t be doing philosophy if I didn’t think it progressed, and that we know now more than we did a century ago. For that reason, I don’t view its history as a story of the clash of defensible but irreconcilable views, from which the most we can expect is a sympathetic understanding of how things looked to the participants. (Scott Soames) For the value of the history of philosophy . . . lies not only in the fact that we can learn from our predecessors how to address in different ways the questions that concern us, but also in the fact that we can learn from them how to ask different questions, or how to ask our questions differently. (Paul Franks)
These quotes provide different pictures about the history of philosophy. The notion of progress plays a key role in Soames’ account. Because we know more now than we did in the past, Soames claims the history of philosophy should involve a careful analysis of both the achievements and insights that have allowed the field to progress as well as the missteps which have frustrated this process. Soames would have history vindicate our current philosophical understanding. Paul Franks, on the other hand, wants to problematize this straightforward account of how we progressed from the past to the present. He does this by leaving open the possibility that important questions may cease to be raised and that certain
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