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Analytic versus Continental: Arguments on the Methods and Value of Philosophy

JAMES CHASE
JACK REYNOLDS
Copyright Date: 2010
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hczx
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  • Book Info
    Analytic versus Continental
    Book Description:

    Throughout much of the twentieth century, the relationship between the disciplines of analytic and continental philosophy has been one of disinterest, caution, or hostility. Recent debates in philosophy have highlighted some of the similarities between the two approaches and even envisaged a post-continental and post-analytic philosophy. Opening with a history of key encounters between philosophers of opposing camps since the late-nineteenth century - from Frege and Husserl to Derrida and Searle - Analytic versus Continental goes on to explore in detail the main methodological differences between the two approaches.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9483-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION. ANALYTIC VERSUS CONTINENTAL: ARGUMENTS ON THE METHODS AND VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 1-10)

    Anyone who works within academic philosophy is familiar with the (claimed) distinction between analytic or Anglo-American philosophy and its so-called continental or European counterpart. On the standard view, a divergence has been under way since at least since the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, emphasized by differing interests, specializations and attitudes to the common philosophical heritage. Indeed, many would agree with Michael Dummett’s assessment that “we have reached a point at which it’s as if we’re working in different subjects” (1993: 193).

    Yet what does the distinction actually amount to? It is occasionally given a geographical tilt (analytic philosophy...

  5. PART I. FORMATIVE ENCOUNTERS:: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE “DIVIDE”

    • [PART I. Introduction]
      (pp. 11-15)

      The origins and early years of the divide have been explored from several angles (e.g. Ansell-Pearson 2002; Beaney 2007; Cobb-Stevens 1990; Dummett 1993; Friedman 2000); here our concern is simply to provide an overview of some of the main performative encounters between (what are now thought to be) canonical representatives of analytic and continental philosophy, which also have some historical resonance at present. In roughly chronological order, we shall focus here on the encounters between: Husserl and Frege; Henri Bergson and Bertrand Russell; Heidegger and Carnap; Max Horkheimer against logical positivism; Karl Popper and several major targets of his thought...

    • 1. FREGE AND HUSSERL
      (pp. 16-22)

      Recall Dummett’s suggestion that contemporary communication between analytic and continental philosophers requires a revisiting of the work of Husserl and Frege. Husserl and Frege are both remarkably influential in their respective traditions at present, but the point behind Dummett’s remark is that, in the period from about 1884 to 1896 (i.e. between the publication of Frege’sFoundations of Arithmeticand Husserl’s first version of the “Prolegomena to Pure Logic”) the two are to some extent on the same philosophical page. They communicate both privately and publicly; they do not always disagree when they do so; and when they do disagree...

    • 2. RUSSELL VERSUS BERGSON
      (pp. 23-26)

      As we have noted, Russell is central to the advertisement of early analytic philosophy; his “On Denoting” andOur Knowledge of the External Worldare shop windows in which the new methods are publicly put through their paces. He was also willing to enter into contention with philosophers from other schools in a way that Frege, Moore or Wittgenstein were not, and especially to attack philosophies that he himself had abandoned (such as Hegelianism and Meinongian realism). Perhaps inevitably, he thereby also played a highly significant role in “othering” much of the contemporaneous philosophical work being done in France, Germany...

    • 3. CARNAP VERSUS HEIDEGGER
      (pp. 27-30)

      Throughout the 1920s, the divide between analytic and continental philosophy became more entrenched, but also more complicated. An illuminating episode that was fundamental to the perpetuation of the idea of philosophy being a “divided house” is the analytic reaction to the phenomenologist/ontologist Heidegger’sBeing and Time(1927) and his text “What is Metaphysics?”, his inaugural lecture at the University of Freiburg in 1929 (see Heidegger 1996a). In the course of this work, Heidegger develops a substantive nothing (given a definite article as “the Nothing”), and has it act (it “noths” or “nihilates”). Unsurprisingly, this is something of a natural target...

    • 4. THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL, THE POSITIVISTS AND POPPER
      (pp. 31-34)

      Of course, the formative years of the emergence of a divide weren’t one-sidedly characterised by analytic philosophers projecting certain despised characteristics onto their continental philosophical “others”. In different ways, both Bergson and Heidegger targeted calculative thinking and logicism (as Hegel had done before them), and often with more than a nod in the direction of the emerging analytic movement. Soon afterBeing and Time, Horkheimer was appointed director of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, and in the early 1930s he put forward his own critique of logical positivism, while also attackingLebensphilosophieand early forms of existentialism. For...

    • 5. ROYAUMONT: RYLE AND HARE VERSUS FRENCH AND GERMAN PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 35-36)

      InThe Idea of Continental Philosophy(2007), Simon Glendinning makes a strong case for the 1950s as the decade in which the divide became truly substantial. In 1958,¹ in an attempt to institute a British-French philosophical dialogue, Ayer, Ryle, Quine, J. L. Austin, Hare, Peter Strawson, Bernard Williams and J. O. Urmson were invited to a joint conference at Royaumont, with French philosophers such as Jean Wahl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and H. L. Van Breda (a Husserlian) in the audience. The conference was described by all involved as a failure, a sterile set-piece affair. It has therefore acquired a certain significance...

    • 6. DERRIDA VERSUS SEARLE AND BEYOND
      (pp. 37-44)

      The debate between Derrida and Searle in the 1970s and 1980s, spurred by Derrida’s engagement with Austin in “Signature Event Context”, is perhaps the closest thing that the tradition has to an ongoing exchange of ideas between well-known analytic and continental philosophers, notwithstanding the sometimes aggressive and polemical stances taken by both Derrida and Searle. Both philosophers claimed that their interaction should not be understood as a clash between representatives of the sides of a “divide”. In fact, Derrida accuses Searle of being Husserlian in relation to meaning and intentionality (indeed, there is a fairly close relationship between Searle and...

  6. PART II. METHOD

    • 7. INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHICAL METHOD
      (pp. 46-56)

      At the broadest level, philosophical methods differ because people do philosophy in different ways (Tugendhat 1976: 3–4). Given that they also inevitably influence one another, as a result groups or lineages of philosophers do philosophy in similar ways and such broad methods can be typed to at least some extent. Giving the notion of philosophical method more precision – for instance, considering argument forms, heuristics, mandated starting places (first philosophy; common sense) or the like as matters of method – is rather more committal, but at least some of the standard questions of philosophical methodology can be put at...

    • 8. ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND THE INTUITION PUMP: THE USES AND ABUSES OF THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS
      (pp. 57-76)

      Let us begin with an example, perhaps the most famous (or infamous) piece of science-fiction in recent analytic philosophy. Putnam asks us to suppose the existence somewhere in the galaxy of the planet Twin Earth, which is exactly like Earth except that the role of water – the clear colourless liquid that falls in rain, fills oceans and so on – is played by a different chemical (dubbed “XYZ”) instead of H2O. And here is the business end of what follows:

      [L]et us roll the time back to about 1750. At that time chemistry was not developed on either Earth...

    • 9. REFLECTIVE EQUILIBRIUM: COMMON SENSE OR CONSERVATISM?
      (pp. 77-88)

      The analytic method of reflective equilibrium is at once a method of doing philosophical work and a defence of the resulting work against various possible sceptical attacks. Its first employment was in Nelson Goodman’sFact, Fiction and Forecast, certainly one of the most influential analytic works of the mid-twentieth century. After setting out a version of Hume’s problem of induction (the problem of justifying as rational our confidence in inductively formed beliefs, such as the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow or that gravity will continue to work on cars), Goodman suggests that the problem can be avoided if...

    • 10. THE FATE OF TRANSCENDENTAL REASONING
      (pp. 89-114)

      A significant methodological difference between analytic and continental philosophers comes out in their differing attitudes to transcendental reasoning. It has been an object of concern to analytic philosophy since the dawn of the movement around the start of the twentieth century, and although there was briefly a mini industry on the validity of transcendental arguments following Peter Strawson’s prominent use of them, discussion of their acceptability – usually with a negative verdict – is far more common than their positive use within a philosophical system or to justify a specific claim.¹ By contrast, in the continental traditions starting with Kant...

    • 11. PHENOMENOLOGY: RETURNING TO THE THINGS THEMSELVES
      (pp. 115-129)

      The tradition of phenomenology has proved remarkably resilient, enduring throughout the entirety of the twentieth century and beyond. In fact, it continues to be one of the primary research fronts of contemporary continental philosophy (both on the European continent and beyond), as well as a tradition that many of the great continental philosophers have aligned themselves with – Husserl, Edith Stein, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Ricoeur, Gadamer, Arendt, Derrida, Henry, Marion and so on – while also reinventing in more or less radical ways. In recent times, the term phenomenology also crops up repeatedly in analytic philosophy of mind where...

    • 12. GENEALOGY, HERMENEUTICS AND DECONSTRUCTION
      (pp. 130-144)

      Without wanting to unify genealogy, hermeneutics and deconstruction, this chapter will highlight the manner in which these three differing trajectories together ensure that sustained textual engagement, and a concern with culture and history (including the history of philosophy), constitute a method of sorts that undergirds large parts of contemporary continental philosophy. While the treatment of the history of philosophy by certain philosophers can seem negative, with apparently sweeping terms of critique such as “logocentrism”, “metaphysics of presence”, “incredulity towards grand narratives” and so on, there is a positive aspect to this attempt to “unearth” and extract from the archive some...

    • 13. STYLE AND CLARITY
      (pp. 145-152)

      Stylistic differences between the traditions have been noticed (and parodied) from the very start. And while style is an intrinsically personal thing (Kripke has a different writing style from David Lewis, as do Derrida and Badiou, etc.), it is also difficult to dispute that there are some overlapping stylistic norms at play across these traditions. Of course, matters of style are obviously affected by the influences within each tradition; graduate programmes will inevitably end up socializing their students (usually via modelling rather than explicit directives) into particular ways of comporting themselves, both in written and oral communication. Analytic philosophers also...

    • 14. PHILOSOPHY, SCIENCE AND ART
      (pp. 153-160)

      This chapter concludes Part II’s focus on method, by briefly analysing the respective conceptions of the role and value of philosophy in each tradition, as well as how it relates to scientific (and hence the relation of philosophy to naturalism) and artistic endeavours (and hence the relation of philosophy to concept creation).

      Let us begin with art, which has historically been associated more with continental philosophy than analytic philosophy. It is uncontroversial to claim that almost all of the major continental philosophers have been heavily concerned with art (Husserl seems to be an exception), and with the relation of art...

  7. PART III. INTERPRETATION OF KEY TOPICS

    • [PART III. Introduction]
      (pp. 161-162)

      In Part III of this book, we examine some topical consequences of the traditions’ respective methodological preferences. Of course, any comparative project of this kind will be partial, since analytic and continental philosophers do not so much give divergent answers to the same questions as divergent answers to different questions. The standard differentiations between the subdisciplines of philosophy – that is, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and so on – are usually not treated in strict separation by continental philosophers; on the other side, connections between them that are taken seriously in analytic philosophy have no continental equivalent. Nonetheless, we think a...

    • 15. ONTOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS
      (pp. 163-172)

      “First philosophy”, in the sense of mere metaphysics, is common to both traditions: analytic and continental philosophers reflect on the nature, structure and inhabitants of the world. But “first philosophy” has also been taken to be the view that such metaphysical/ontological enquiry is to precede empirical enquiry, common sense or the deliverances of the sciences, and this has always been contested within the analytic tradition. Important worries about such first philosophies were expressed at the outset and subsequently, and partly because of the premium placed on avoiding nonsense or tautology through careful linguistic or conceptual analysis, analytic philosophy has tended...

    • 16. TRUTH, OBJECTIVITY AND REALISM
      (pp. 173-187)

      The differing commitments and interests of the analytic and continental traditions emerge especially clearly with respect to truth and realism, in part because of explicit critique across the traditions on this point. Notwithstanding the influence of pragmatist and coherence understandings of truth, the analytic tradition has a broadly objectivist understanding of truth, which backs analytic concerns with the (alleged) anti-realist tendencies in continental philosophy. In this chapter, we compare the two traditions’ respective understandings of truth and its association with metaphysical realism. We shall argue that the distinction between these two traditions follows largely from the primacy of the proposition...

    • 17. TIME: A CONTRETEMPS
      (pp. 188-201)

      In the late 1980s, the American economist Jeremy Rifkin claimed that “a battle is brewing over the politics of time” (1987:10)¹ because he felt that the pivotal issue of the twenty-first century would be the question of time and who controlled it. We think that a battle over the politics of time (and the metaphysics of time) is also a major part of what is at stake in the differences between analytic and continental philosophy. Very different philosophies of time, and associated methodological techniques, serve to define representatives of each of these groups and also to guard against their potential...

    • 18. MIND, BODY AND REPRESENTATIONALISM
      (pp. 202-219)

      While philosophy of mind, loosely construed, is present in any philosophy, it is fair to say that philosophy of mind in analytic philosophy has taken a particular direction in the twentieth century, partly owing to developments in the cognitive sciences such as psychology, neurology, biology and linguistics, and other scientific disciplines. If the mid-century “identity theory” of the mind was largely a philosophical response to problems with behaviourism, more recent developments in analytic philosophy of mind have generally sought to integrate themselves with the cognitive sciences. A certain approach to cognitive psychology became dominant in the 1960s, bringing with it...

    • 19. ETHICS AND POLITICS: THEORETICAL AND ANTI-THEORETICAL APPROACHES
      (pp. 220-234)

      For much of its history in the twentieth century, analytic philosophy retreated from ethical and political engagement into meta-ethics, at least before the resurgence of interest in applied and normative ethics of the early 1970s: the influential journalPhilosophy and Public Affairswas first published in 1971, as was Rawls’s landmarkA Theory of Justice, and Peter Singer’sAnimal Liberationwas published in 1975. Some have seen this abdication as a partial explanation for the success of analytic philosophy in the United States during McCarthyism (see John McCumber’sTime in the Ditch), although it is worth noting that, despite or...

    • 20. PROBLEM(S) OF OTHER MINDS: SOLUTIONS AND DISSOLUTIONS IN ANALYTIC AND CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 235-252)

      Given its resonance in both traditions, the problem of other minds seems to us especially suitable as a case-study, or a symptom, in order to make clear some of the different methodological and meta-philosophical commitments of the two traditions. Although there is no canonical account of the problem(s) of other minds that can be baldly stated and that is exhaustive of both traditions, several aspects of the problem can be set out. It seems to have: (i) an epistemological dimension (How do we know that others exist? Can we justifiably claim to know that they do?); (ii) an ontological dimension...

  8. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 253-256)

    Glendinning endsThe Idea of Continental Philosophyby leaving philosophers with an existential predicament of sorts: whether we are to be “enders” or “benders” in relation to the perceived divide between analytic and continental philosophy.

    The ender is “the one who knows that (what is in any case obvious) the very idea of a Continental tradition is contentious or even perverse and so will be inclined to work with a certain lack of interest in securing or maintaining the idea of the analytic/Continental distinction”. The bender, on the other hand:

    demands that we acknowledge thede facto, real-world gulf or,...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 257-266)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 267-284)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 285-294)