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The Death of PhilosophyReference and Self-reference in Contemporary Thought$
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Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231147781

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231147781.001.0001

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The “Race to Reference”

The “Race to Reference”

(p.191) 9 The “Race to Reference”
The Death of Philosophy

Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel

, Richard A. Lynch
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines what Jocelyn Benoist calls the “race to reference.” Interest in the problem of reference would be a kind of reaction against Kantian idealism and, in general, against any form of representationalism. With Bernard Bolzano and Gottlob Frege, later with Edmund Husserl and Bertrand Russell, a desire was expressed to return to the object, against a too-exclusive concern for our representations of the object. The chapter puts in perspective the historical thesis—of “Bolzano’s inauguration, breaking with Kantian representationalism, of a certain kind of consolidated referential demand” that would be the “inaugural formation of twentieth century philosophy.” It also goes back to Immanuel Kant to show how philosophy’s referential ethos has unceasingly become more pronounced over the last two centuries and how the analytic currents of contemporary philosophy are its apotheosis. Finally, it argues that the exclusivity of the concern for reference has engendered the erroneous announcement of the death of philosophy.

Keywords:   race to reference, Jocelyn Benoist, reference, Kantian idealism, representationalism, Bernard Bolzano, Edmund Husserl, Immanuel Kant, contemporary philosophy, death of philosophy

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