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Analytic Vs. Continental Philosophy


DeGaul
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So, here is a question for those of you out there who have a strong interest in philosophy: What do you think the root cause is of the separation between analytic and continental philosophy?

 

I think, without question, analytic philosophy is the dominate form of philosophy in the contemporary world. The descendents of Wittgenstein and Frege have multiplied and entered into so many areas of logical and scientific analysis that it is safe to say that many, if not all thinkers have been influenced in one way or another by concepts having their origin in analytic philosophy. And indeed, through the vehicle of analytic philosophy, science has been given the appropriate (and long overdue) honor of becoming a substantial influence on cultural concepts. More than ever, we live in a technological, and thus in some sense, scientific age.

 

But, continental philosophy hasn't gone away. The French in particular have soldiered on with the often esoteric and complicated "continental" language born out of the works of thinkers like Heidegger and Sartre and phenomenology and existentialism generally. With their emphasis on culture and society and Freudian experience and the different senses of words like "home" and "Being" and "Other", what is the direction of continental philosophy?

 

I am not a continental philosopher. My training is as an analytic philosopher, although I have often expressed my love for thinkers like Peter Zapffe, who are far removed from analytic thought, although I wouldn't call him continental either.....

 

But, I digress......the point is, I am genuinely curious about the relationship between continental and analytic philosophy. Of course, my biased view is that continental philosophy is all just a bunch of hocus-pocus metaphysics bullshit, and that European philosophers are just simply too romantic and unrealistic about the world, trying to capture some heroic sense of belonging in this universe for human beings.....a project that I explicitly reject, given that I'm a nihilist and believe that no meaning exists for human life at all. Rather, I embrace contingency and accept that what value judgements I make are my own and are justified only by myself, which is to say that they aren't justified at all.

 

For me, discussions of ethics are just discussions of the plausibility of different opinions. Other than that, all we have are cold, clinical facts and logical relations.....nothing else.

 

But, again, I'm digressing. I'll leave what I'm saying as it is. I look forward to any responses people may have.

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An interesting and difficult question, DeGaul.

 

I'm a philosophy newbie, but what I'm seeing is that the analytic school is seeking objective foundations whereas the Continental philosophers are working more on the subjective side. I tend more to Continental philosophy, mainly because I find analytic philosophy too dry and not all that practical at a personal level. (I can, however, see its value as an adjunct to math or physics.)

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I confess that over the years I've been drawn to philosophy more out of necessity than love and I was unaware of this divide in Western philosophy.

 

When I was a younger man I explained my view of things at the time to a girlfriend. She said, "That's awful!" Later I explained it to a teacher and she said, "That's existentialism." :HaHa:

 

Frankly I do not want to be bogged down with too much knowledge. I want to maximize my understanding while utilizing the minimum required knowledge. And these days I am more interested in having an appropriate philosophical foundation to properly support science, because we live in a causal world. And nature never decieves; it is we who fail to comprehend.

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:HaHa: Ahhhhhh, how often the old subjective/objective duality comes up in philosophy! If you are a beginner in philosophy, you'll soon start to notice how often that particular pair is deeply problematic for philosophers. But, I suppose you maybe right about that. Certainly, continental philosophy seems to have its roots in trying to help individuals deal with their personal reality. Existentialism is the ultimate example of this. After all, how could a person really be moved personally by the kind of dry analysis of the analytics? It is a good question. Personally, I find the cold reasoning of analysis to be comforting, but that is probably because I am a nihilist and reject the pursuit of meaning in life. Life is meaningless, or, as another Norwegian philosopher once said, it is even less than meaningless.

 

But perhaps there is something I could learn from the continentals.....

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In a way, your attitude reminds me of my idol Peter Zapffe. He said philosophy was the method he used to orient himself in the world. I think that is a great way to look at it.

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Peter Zapffe... This is the first I've heard of him. Thank you DeGaul. I may have to look into him further.

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Haha.....I hope you can read Norwegian then Legion, because Zapffe has been marginalized by the English speaking world. Almost the whole of his work is still untranslated. Here is a link to pretty much the only piece of his work in English.

 

http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/The_Last_Messiah

 

If you are particularly interested in him, a few select translations of his poetry and such are available in the book Wisdom in the Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology.

 

I would suggest that book highly, by the way, as Norwegian Deep Ecology is probably one of the only living examples of philosophy as a lived, non-academic tradition rather than simply a dry pass time.

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