• Echarmion
    990
    They didn't just pick any random philosopher, and there's a reason that the first section (not just essay) is "The Kantian Legacy."Terrapin Station

    There's also, presumably, a reason why the first section is specifically about Kant's legacy and not Kant's work itself.

    If it's because "Kant is the jumping-off point for continental philosophy" somehow despite not being a continental philosopher in their estimation, how does that work rather than picking some other philosopher, like Hume?Terrapin Station

    It works just fine to say that the jumping off point is not itself a part of any branch. Though ultimately it's irrelevant anyways, since everyone agrees Kant is important. I was just wondering whether there was something specifically continental about Kant's philosophy.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    There's also, presumably, a reason why the first section is specifically about Kant's legacy and not Kant's work itself.Echarmion

    There's a 22-page chapter on Kant. (On his work itself.)
  • Mww
    1.2k
    I was just wondering whether there was something specifically continental about Kant's philosophy.Echarmion

    Specifically continental about Kant’s philosophy is more along the lines of geo-political and religious turmoil, and his response to it, than having to do with some philosophical dichotomy, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    Kantian epistemological philosophy was, by his own admission, with respect to Hume’s lackadaisical dismissal of a priori knowledge...slave of the passions and all that empiricist foolishness.....but it wasn’t for that, that the continental aspect for his philosophy came about. The tripartite Critiques taken as a whole, which were much more than merely epistemological, were a subtle rebuke of the writings of Jacobi (con) and Mendelssohn (pro), with respect to Spinozan pantheism, the religious turmoil of which was rampant in continental academia. While not naming any of them in more than passing, nor criticizing the general religiosity of the time, one can find a few anti-pantheisms hidden in those massive, paragraph-long sentences. In addition, throw in the French Revolution, which Kant tacitly condoned, at least in form, as shown in “The Science of Right”, it is clear how “continental” relates to Kant.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    We also can't forget that a big part of the distinction is simply a stylistic one with regard to writing:

    * The structure of individual sentences, including the length of sentences and the relative simplicity versus complexity of them, including willingness to nest countless prepositional phrases, to write run-on sentences, etc.

    * Word choices, including just how eager the author is to invent neologisms or to use words in very novel ways that might change connotations in many different contexts

    * The flow of one sentence to another--that is, the logical and semantic scope and flow of sentences. Is the semantic scope broad or narrow? Is the logical flow tightly controlled versus something more free-flowing or even stream-of-consciousness?

    * The willingness to incorporate relatively obscure or esoteric references and allusions in conjunction with the willingness to explain them or not

    Etc.
  • Coben
    1k
    I think that's all fair and generally true. I have a some college philosophy behind me, but mostly its been my own pursuit, so I take my conclusions with a large grain of salt, but I would add that analytic philosophy seems more ahistorical. I think there is a sense of getting at culture free truths and not by cateloguing a lot of contingent or potentially contingent stuff: history, culture, psychology. And then working in relation to the sciences, coming up with definitions for already existing terms and being, in general, fairly content, once definitions are in place. Continental seems much more focused on culture - language and power being habitual focii, psychology, history. It is much more likely to create terms, as you say, though I would add that I think they think this is their job: to come up with new concepts. I think there is some fairness in saying Kant was continental since he was fairly pro sitting around and working it out non-empirically. On the other hand vast sections of his work seem very happily in the analytical tradition. I think he can be used by both.

    Both groups seems extremely problematic to me when they have overweening confidence (I know, that's tautological, given 'overweening') The conteninentals can drive right into the Sokal controversy making up a lot of shit and cherry picking from a dozen fields on their way there for a picnic. The little journey sounded grandiose, tale told by an idiot type stuff, however. And the analytical can think they have evaded all that contingent, cultural, psychological stuff. They can think of themselves as the rational team, under control, knowing their assumptions, when this is simply because their culture seems obvious to them.

    But it also seems to me they are trying to do rather different things and solve different problems.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    analytic philosophy seems more ahistorical.Coben

    Yeah, that's part of it seeing science and logic/mathematics as methodological ideals. Continental philosophy often seems like its ultimate goal is to be about "the human condition" in much the same way that (especially realist) fiction often has an aim of "illustrating the human condition." So that's more likely to be historico-cultural.

    Analytic philosophy is more concerned with "what is this stuff/how exactly does it work," where that often has very little if anything to do with humans or "the human condition." Continental philosophers want to point out the necessity of epistemology in talking about "what is this stuff/how exactly does it work" but analytic philosophers see the constant focus on that as being as OCDishly annoying as if we were to constantly tell physicists or chemists that they need to be talking about epistemology all the time and not just talking about forces and atoms and molecules and bonds and so on. It's not that the epistemological aspects are being denied or ignored. It's rather that analytic philosophers, like most scientists, most mathematicians, etc. think that we don't have to constantly just talk about epistemology.
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    but analytic philosophers see the constant focus on that as being as OCDishly annoying as if we were to constantly tell physicists or chemists that they need to be talking about epistemology all the time and not just talking about forces and atoms and molecules and bonds and so on. It's not that the epistemological aspects are being denied or ignored. It's rather that analytic philosophers, like most scientists, most mathematicians, etc. think that we don't have to constantly just talk about epistemology.Terrapin Station

    That's interesting. The analytic tradition studying knowledge (at least from what I've read) usually looks at how statements are justified and how we tell the truth using them. The continental tradition studying knowledge (at least from what I've read) usually looks at knowledge as a social product. The focus on epistemology in that narrow analytical stereotype sense is one big disconnect between the two paradigms.
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    Continental philosophers want to point out the necessity of epistemology in talking about "what is this stuff/how exactly does it work"Terrapin Station

    This seems an odd characterization. One of the more common critiques of 'continental philosophy' is it's almost utter neglect of epistemology.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    What it neglects is approaching epistemology the way that analytic philosophers approach it.

    It's a bit hard to ignore what we know/how we know it when one is an idealist, for example, and there are plenty of idealist continental philosophers.
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    and there are plenty of idealist continental philosophers.Terrapin Station

    Debatable, but not particularly worth debating.

    --

    As far as continental philosophy goes, I like Catherine Malabou's characterization of it as broadly transcendental in outlook: asking after the various conditions of modalities [possibility/actuality] of various things. This being what it learns from Kant. I lean continental, obviously, but I quite like the analytic tradition too.

    My other favourite cheeky way of characterizing the split is Jack Reyonds' one, in which analytic philosophy is sadistic and continental philosophy is masochistic [link, pdf]. That's more probably the level at which the discussion should take place.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    858
    I suppose this is another way to describe the divide between the traditions.

    https://existentialcomics.com/comic/146
  • Banno
    6.5k
    Like Popeye, I am what I am and that's all that I am.Ciceronianus the White

    Ah, but what are you becoming...
  • Banno
    6.5k
    Would you then argue that Analytic philosophy is an offshoot of Continental philosophy, if everything from Kant onward minus everything from Frege onward is Continental? Frege's immediate philosophical ancestor was a Continental?Pfhorrest

    I don't think the distinction is that tight.

    After all, English philosophy was mostly Hegelian, and it was this that Russel and Moore were rejecting, using Frege's style of analysis.

    So it might be best to think of continental philosophy as consisting of those folk who did not follow Russel and Moore into the Light.

    If you need this to be neat, then the last common philosopher would be Hegel, not Kant; and the analytic tradition is the rejection of this ancestor.

    But all this commentary is post-hoc, and unimportant.
  • Wallows
    9.4k
    EDIT: wallows isn't a wankerbert1

    Nowadays even if I try it doesn't work itself out.

    Ok, that's a rarity for me.
  • Valentinus
    603

    I am heartened to see the third one mentioned, the Critique of Judgement brought into view.

    The matter of what is peculiarly "continental" seems deeply connected to to whatever getting beyond the Scholastics was about. The history of philosophy is very interesting and I wished I had a better understanding that reading everything would probably help give me. Without that super scholarship, I am left with just the narratives that set up each bit of explanation each is willing to provide.

    Explaining the course of philosophy as a product is an odd practice. It always comes off as an excuse not to do something.
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    I really like the analytic tradition, especially from roughly Moore to Rorty. From the late 70's on, I'm not much of a fan. But the positivists and ordinary language philosophers are especially interesting to me, among modern philosophers.

    What little continental philosophy I've read hasn't caught my interest.
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    There seem to be two roots of analytic philosophy. One traces to George Boole, and the other traces to G. E. Moore. The two roots don't have much to do with each other, but interestingly the tradition seemed to synthesize them at several points. Moore seems to me to be the most important impetus for the tradition, and his massive, massive influence is under-appreciated (I would say, for instance, that at the end of the day Wittgenstein is really just a Moorean), which is odd, because Moore himself is not all that interesting in my view, but he inspired one of the most interesting traditions in the world, seemingly by accident.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    I would say, for instance, that at the end of the day Wittgenstein is really just a MooreanSnakes Alive

    I can see how that might be argued...:chin:

    I entirely agree that Moore is unappreciated - from what you say, even by yourself. I keep returning to Principles of Ethics as a source of clear thinking on that most misunderstood topic.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    George BooleSnakes Alive

    How?
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    Well, Moore is a weird case. I think that the commentaries on him were what really spurred ordinary language philosophy, but Moore himself wasn't too taken with them.

    As for Moore himself, his main feat, as I see it, was to look at philosophical questions in the same register that you look at any other question. It sounds silly, but philosophers conduct their discussions in an alternate register, where the rules of reality don't really apply, and are bracketed for the sake of discussion. In other words, philosophers don't really take their own questions seriously, and don't really care about what they are talking about, or how it matches up with everything else they talk about. What is remarkable about Moore is that he simply took philosophical claims at their word, and when you do that, it becomes apparent how puzzling, and utterly batshit, they are.

    This led, ultimately, to a new way of doing philosophy, which began not in puzzlement at the world, but in puzzlement at philosophers -- what could possibly cause someone to think and talk this way? And this in turn led to the fruitful program of seeing the conditions under which we make claims, how things get their meanings to begin with. Everything from positivism to quietism follows from that, and it seems to me to have been much more insightful and edifying than traditional philosophy.
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    I would say the Frege-Russel line is really just an extension of Boole, who is the forerunner of modern logic, and inventor of the notions of compositional meaning, truth conditions, universes of discourse, etc.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    ...which began not in puzzlement at the world, but in puzzlement at philosophers...Snakes Alive

    Nice.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    I would say the Frege-Russel line is really just an extension of Boole,Snakes Alive

    Others have called it an extension of Peirce. I'll leave such things as moot.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    But what is worthy of note is the much greater role played by logic in analytic philosophy than in continental.

    Hence my bias that there is something lazy about continental philosophy, that its proponents hide in their obtuse writing.
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    It is hard to draw boundaries, as with most traditions. But the advent of Moore looks like a hard break to me, and then around 1970, with the rise of Lewis and Kripke, seemed to be when that tradition more or less started to wither. I'm not sure why the label stayed the same – what analytic philosophers have done post-Lewis and Kripke doesn't bear too much resemblance to what they did before (and it strikes me as a lot more naive & less interesting: new scholastics, but without the allure of the divine!).
  • Banno
    6.5k
    new scholasticsSnakes Alive

    I suspect that as a profession, the path they found themselves on was self-defeating. One will not attract many students to study philosophy if the upshot is: Don't study philosophy, do something else.
  • Snakes Alive
    392
    Maybe so. That is why Cavell and Rorty defected to literary criticism – I think they really believed it, and put their money where their mouth was. Many of the ordinary language philosophers effectively defected to linguistics, psychoanalysis, logic, or theology.

    I wonder about it myself – the more one learns about philosophy, the less appealing it is. What if the blunter statements of the analytics are right, and philosophy isn't really any more contentful than New Age stuff? I am becoming more sympathetic to the position, and maybe the solution is not to reform the discipline, but simply to ignore it and do something else.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    maybe the solution is not to reform the discipline, but simply to ignore it and do something else.Snakes Alive

    If you have a choice, then go for it. I seem to keep getting dragged back to it.
  • Yanni
    16
    What if we employ different philosophical attitudes/approaches as different devices for exploring different ideas.
    One approach may be more appropriate for one idea in particular and so on.

    If we reduce the idea of different philosophical views to the notion that they collectively attempt to represent meaning this would allow us to see how "opposing" philosophical attitudes may just be two sides of a multi-sided coin.

    Philosophical attitudes are generally corollary to another and can't exist independently out of nothing.
    (post structural view of literary work being one facet of a complex organism of culture, conditioning, genre, etc.)

    If we see it this way could we get more use out of it?

    I'll try and allegorize this with the development of language.

    Language evolved in tandem with us. We went from purely surviving, to surviving efficiently and eventually to having (for the most part, at least in the first-world western societies) some sort of containment/mastery on basic physical survival e.g. food is practically almost always accessible, life expectancy growing etc.

    As a result of this evolution out from basic physical survival, we had the time/energy and even the larger brains we grew to express more complex ideas/sentiments.
    We needed/developed a language that expressed more complex ideas then "Warning" "food""safe" etc.
    New words were formed either by combining words or creating new ones with the sounds we were able to put together to express these relatively more complex ideas.

    To liken philosophy to this notion, different philosophical attitudes are like different words that we develop.
    We put theses words together, categorize them phonetically, conceptually syllabically etc. (conscious of this purpose or not)
    e.g. a lot of basic, common objects are given simple names; (chair, pen, house, etc.) while a lot complex notions are given longer names (usually greek)etc.

    But all these words together no matter how simple or complex are all dependent upon each other to express/represent some meaning. They form the language that we employ and continually develop in order to best express meaning (whatever that is)


    So I guess continental haha
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