The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering




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2021.09.06 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews
Matthieu Queloz, The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering, Oxford University Press, 2021, 304pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198868705.
Reviewed by P J E Kail, University of Oxford
If one heard the word ‘genealogy’ in an Anglo-American philosophical context some 25 years ago, one’s thoughts would have tended to turn to Nietzsche, Foucault, and, perhaps, Alasdair Macintyre, together with notions like ‘subversion’ or ‘debunking’, and all would be coloured in a slightly ‘continental’, and thus marginal, tint. These days, however, genealogy—or rather particular interpretations of the term—has come to the fore in the Anglo-American mainstream. This is due, in no small measure, to Bernard Williams’s 2002 Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Matthieu Queloz’s book is heavily influenced by Williams. It comprises the following. First, there are three chapters articulating the conception of genealogy with which Queloz operates. Second, there are two exegetical chapters, one on Hume, one…

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