Philosophical Constraints on Normativity


This essay is an exploratory reflection on a theme drawn from the work of Pierre Hadot and Juliusz Domański regarding “philosophy as a way of life.” I approach the matter from the naturalistic outlook of classic pragmatism and its own limitations. This approach stresses the possible improvement of the analysis of normativity by way of some neglected contributions regarding the nature of history and the evolution of Homo sapiens applied to the formation of the human self or person. I take Hadot’s proposal seriously, therefore, as contributing to a mature conception of philosophy. But I deliberately restrict my own conjectures to naturalistic constraints, which begins to suggest an enlargement of pragmatism itself and an assessment of Hadot’s Greco-Roman and Christian themes.


pragmatism, historicism, Hadot, Peirce, artifactuality, self, abduction, normativity

How to cite:

Margolis, Joseph. “Philosophical Constraints on Normativity.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 3, no. 4(10) (2019): 101-113. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2019.0044.


Joseph Margolis
Department of Philosophy, Temple University
728 Anderson Hall, 1114 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA


Cartwright, Nancy. The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167093.

Chase, Michael. “Introduction.” In Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancient and Modern – Essays in Honor of Pierre Hadot, edited by Michael Chase, Stephen R.I. Clark and Michael McGhee. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118609187.

Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2 vols. London: Murray, 1871. https://doi.org/10.1037/12294-000.

Domański, Juliusz. La Philosophie, théorie ou manière de vivre? Fribourg, Switzerland: Cerf Presse Universitaires, 1996.

Garver, Newton. “Naturalism and Transcendentality: The Case of ‘Form of Life.’” In Wittgenstein and Contemporary Philosophy, edited by Souren Tegharian. Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994.

Garver, Newton. This Complicated Form of Life: Essays On Wittgenstein. Chicago: Open Court, 1994.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hadot, Pierre. What Is Ancient Philosophy? Translated by Michael Chase. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hull, David L. “On Human Nature.” PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, Vol. 1986, Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers (1986): 3-13. https://doi.org/10.1086/psaprocbienmeetp.1986.2.192787.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511804649.

McDowell, John. “The Woodbridge Lectures.” In Having the World in View: Essays on Kant, Hegel, and Sellars, Pt. I, 3-65. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Peirce, Charles Sanders. “How to Make Our Ideas Clear.” In Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, edited by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962[1934].

Reichenbach, Hans. The Rise of Scientific Philosophy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

Savage-Rumbaugh, E. Sue, Jeannine Murphy, Rose A. Sevcik, Karen E. Brakke, Shelly L. Williams, and Duane M. Rumbaugh. “Language Comprehension in Ape and Child.” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 58, no. 3-4 (1993): v-221. https://doi.org/10.2307/1166068.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. New York: Macmillan, 1953.

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.