Geschichtsphilosophie und Philosophiegeschichte

The essay – an elaborated version of my academic farewell speech [Abschiedsvorlesung] – discusses three theses: 1. Histories and history as well as history of philosophy and philosophy of history can only be staged as narratives. “True” stories enact the past and deliver schemes for anticipating the future; insofar history and future constitute the semantics of the present. 2. “Systematic” philosophy analyses the temporal narratives which store the historical experiences and eliminates their temporality in a process of transforming narratives into arguments. The most important step in this transformation consists in isolating the key notions of the narratives and in arranging these key notions in a “timeless” systematic order. 3. History of philosophy and philosophy of history restage, however, the temporal narrative, which systematic philosophy wants to eliminate from philosophy. This operation produces an unsolvable paradox where the claim of timeless truth and that of unescapable temporality are both valid. It throws up questions such as: how can it be possible for philosophical truths to lose their credit? Do timeless truths exist, and if so what do they mean? Do these paradoxes lead to schadenfreude on the part of the historian of philosophy, who knew it all along, or should one see these unsolvable complexities as a chance to enjoy the richness of possibilities which history unfolds? The essay chooses the second alternative.