Mid-Term Report Summary 01.07.2014-31.12.2016

MEMOPHI investigates how 18th- and 19th-century historians of philosophy reconstructed medieval philosophy, invented “mysticism”, contrasted it with “scholasticism”, identified and compared “cultures”, and excluded other cultural worlds from Western rationality and science.
In a monograph published in 2016 (Médiévisme philosophique et raison moderne, De Pierre Bayle à Ernest Renan. Paris), as well as in several articles, C. König-Pralong investigated how history of philosophy contributed to the creation of national and/or European identities. From the 18th century onward European “civilization” has been portrayed by contemporary philosophical historiography as being characterized by its philosophical mindedness that was said to have reached maturity or, in alternative narratives, appeared in the 17th century. By contrasting European culture with other cultural ensembles, modern historians of philosophy created the notion of European philosophical culture that was essentially rooted in Greek and/or modern secularized philosophy. Long before Samuel Huntington published his controversial book on the clash of civilizations (1997) and claimed that “the West has never generated a major religion”, historians of philosophy elaborated a grand narrative which aimed to free Western culture from religious inclinations by biologically rooting religion in other cultures, particularly in the “Semitic” race (see C. König-Pralong: L’histoire médiévale de la raison philosophique moderne. Annales HSS 70 (2015), p. 667-711; C. König-Pralong: Alterität, fremde Nähe und Hybridisierung. Die Araber in der Philosophiegeschichte um 1800. Deutsches Jahrbuch Philosophie, forthcoming 2017). However, in the 19th century the allegedly European philosophical culture took particularistic forms in the foundational myths of the nation which, in turn, involved rehabilitations and colonization of the national Middle Ages in philosophical historiographies, especially in France and Germany (see C. König-Pralong, Entangled Philosophical Ideologies. The Language of Reason. U. Zahnd (ed.), Language and Method. Freiburg, forthcoming 2017).
The investigation conducted by Mario Meliadò on the notion of method constitutes the second research orientation of MEMOPHI. M. Meliadò demonstrated how conception(s) of method guided the historiographical reconstructions of medieval thought and enabled its appropriation, recontextualization and use in the legitimation discourse of modern rationality. In particular, M. Meliadò studied the historiographical creation of the notion of “scholastic method” in 18th- and 19th-century philosophical culture and analysed how this notion came to constitute both an antithetical model representing the otherness of medieval rationality and a category of continuity, which allowed historians of philosophy to elaborate a “scholastic genealogy” for modern conceptions of knowledge. (See M. Meliadò: Scholastica sive pseudophilosophia. Heumann, Brucker und die historiographische Konstruktion der Scholastik in der Frühauflärung. A. Speer (ed.), Error, Berlin 2018; M. Meliadò: Cusanus, die Neuscholastik und die historiographische Repräsentation des modernen Epochenanbruchs. Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, forthcoming 2017).
Finally, Zornitsa Radeva concentrated on the idea of “genuine Aristotelianism” in Protestant philosophical historiography from the period c. 1650 – c. 1750. In three separate studies dedicated to Pierre Bayle, Jacob Brucker and Jacob Thomasius, which will be published in 2017/8, she investigated how the notion of “genuine Aristotelianism” was employed to demarcate different forms of modern (Protestant) rationality not only from medieval scholasticism but also more generally from what was perceived as the Aristotelically dominated past of philosophy. In this context, the historiographical representations of Aristotle’s theory of intellect form an important thread of inquiry as one of the most characteristic and controversial Aristotelian doctrines.