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  • “Books that Have Shaped the Historiography of Philosophy”A Note from the Editor

It should not be too difficult to determine the importance and influence of individual scholarly works in the historiography of philosophy simply by considering how often a book or an article is cited in the literature. However, there are certain monographs whose stature goes well beyond anything that can be measured by mere numbers—books that have had a profound substantive impact on research in a particular area, sometimes even changing the field in a revolutionary way, redefining the terms of debate, and setting things off in new directions. A book can do this either because it offers an extraordinarily original and fruitful interpretation of a philosopher, or because of some innovation in methodology, or perhaps only because it represents a truly creative choice of figure(s) or topic. Of course, not everyone will be enamored of the author’s approach or conclusions. But whether one becomes a partisan or critic of the book, there will be no ignoring it, as it has achieved the status of a classic in its field.

With Tad Schmaltz’s essay on Martial Gueroult’s Descartes selon l’ordre des raisons (published in 1953), the Journal of the History of Philosophy is pleased to inaugurate what I expect to be an occasional but regular feature. For lack of a better title, I am simply calling this series of commissioned essays “Books That Have Shaped the Historiography of Philosophy.” [End Page iv]



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