Gisela Striker is a contemporary philosopher whose work is featured in “The Space of Love and Garbage,” a collection of twenty of the most outstanding works from the Harvard Review of Philosophy.
Gisela Striker has taught at the University of Göttingen, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge. She now teaches ancient philosophy at Harvard. Her first published work was an influential study of Plato’s Philebus. She is currently preparing a commentary on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics. This contribution is adapted from the preface to her collection of Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics.
Gisela Striker asks the question: “Why Study the History of Philosophy?” After all, she points out, students of chemistry, biology, and astronomy can do well without anything more than a current snapshot of their respective fields while ignoring outdated versions. She argues that although advances have been made and mistakes corrected, overall “progress in philosophy does not seem to be of the cumulative sort” and that studying past philosophy not only contains valuable insights but helps us avoid costly mistakes—in argument and in life—and finding valuable arguments that have been overlooked or forgotten. Further, the value, beauty and usefulness of philosophy rest in the power and subtleties of its arguments, not just in the accuracy of the conclusions. The value of philosophy is in its ability to further disciplined and rigorous thought by reading excellent examples of this work.
Striker is just one of the philosophers featured in this book. The pieces pull from analytic, continental and ancient philosophical roots, and they address a variety of topics ranging from immigration to moral intuition, but they never stray from what we feel are philosophy’s central questions. Each chapter focuses on questions central to practical and normative questions of the human experience—primarily those involving life, love and politics.