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The Continental / Analytic Divide. The Analytic / Continental Divide. What is the distinction between ‘Analytic’ and ‘Continental’ philosophy? Two approaches to the question: 1. Historical 2. Systematic. The Analytic / Continental Divide.

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The continental analytic divide

The Continental / Analytic Divide

The analytic continental divide

The Analytic / Continental Divide

What is the distinction between ‘Analytic’ and ‘Continental’ philosophy?

Two approaches to the question:

1. Historical

2. Systematic

The analytic continental divide1

The Analytic / Continental Divide

Warning: Category conflation

‘Continental’ - Geography

‘Analytic’ - Method

However: ‘Analytic’ & ‘Continental’ are used

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The Analytic / Continental Divide


Part 1: History of Distinction

Part 2: Systematic Analysis of Distinction


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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Part 1: History of the distinction

“Kant . . . final great figure common to both analytic and Continental traditions” (CCCP, p. 1)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

The ‘Analytic’/’Continental’ distinction is a product of analytic, not Continental philosophy!

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Two part characterization: “What distinguishes analytical philosophy, in its diverse manifestations, from other schools is the belief, first, that a philosophical account of thought can be attained through a philosophical account of language, and, secondly, that a comprehensive account can only be so attained” (Dummett, 1993)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

"Frege was the grandfather of analytical philosophy, Husserl the founder of the phenomenological school, two radically different philosophical movements . . . remarkably close in orientation . . . They may be compared with the Rhine and the Danube, which rise quite close to one another and for a time pursue roughly parallel courses, only to diverge in utterly different directions and flow into different seas„ (Dummett, 1993)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Analytic philosophers make notoriously bad historians . . .

NOT Frege/Husserl (ca. 1905)

BUT Bentham/Coledridge (ca. 1780)

Opposition in philosophical task: – Bentham: ask, is it true?

– Coleridge: ask, what’s its significance?

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

History ofAnalytic movement: Frege, Russel, Moore, Wittgenstein,

Carnap, Putnam, Quine, and Olaf Müller

“Analytic philosophy began with the arrival of Wittgenstein in Cambridge in 1912” (OCP, 1995)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Origins of Analytic Philosophy:

From Frege  through Russell & Wittgenstein  to Vienna & Berlin

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Two related difficulties:

1) technical nature

2) historical context “”Continuity” had been, a vague word convenient for philosophers like Hegel, who wished to introduce metaphysical muddles into mathematics. . . . .

. . . . a great deal of mysticism, such as that of Bergson, was renderd antiquated” (Russell. 1945)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

From analysis of arithmetic to the philosophy of logical analysis:

all significant thought and discourse can be analyzed into elementary propositions that directly picture states of affairs

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Examples: 1. material objects  sense-data

2. mental states  behavioral dispositions

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Historical context of the movement Relativity Theory ‘space’ and ‘time’  ‘space-time’ ‘matter’  ‘events’ Psychology mind as ‘mental’  mind as ‘physical’

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Philosophical problem-solving: e.g. ‘existence’ since Plato’s Theaetetus

“The golden mountain does not exist’ = “There is no entity c such that ‘x is golden and mountainous’ is true when x is c, but not otherwise”

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Philosophical Methods and Results like Science!

“Since science in principle can say all that can be said there is no unanswerable question left.” (Schlick, 1918)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

philosophy of logical analysis  philosophy of language

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Ordinary Language Philosophy or Linguistic Philosophy (1945-1960, Austin, Ryle) “Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences . . . The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’, but to make propositions clear.” (Wittgenstein)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Carnap    Quine (Late Wittgenstein)

Contemporary Analytic philosophers: “think and write in the analytic spirit, respectful of science, both as a paradigm of reasonable belief and in conformity with its argumentative rigor, its clarity, and its determination to be objective” (OCP, 1995)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Who? When? What? Why? & Who cares?

Anglo-American philosophers (ca. 1970)

Analytic / Continental distinction is a professional self-description

Distinguish philosophy from nonsense

Study Abroad / Ridicule

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Part II: Systematic Approach

What is the distinction between ‘analytic’ and ‘Continental philosophy?      What does this distinction between analytic and Continental philosophy mean?

II.a) What does ‘analytic’ mean?

II.b) What does ‘Continental’ mean?

II.c) What distinguishes them?

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Analytic philosophy is philosophical method

II.a) What is Analysis?

Analysis = decomposition

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Two experimental methods in chemistry: Chemical Analysis Chemical Synthesis

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Example of philosophical analysis:

What is knowledge?

A person P knows that K if and only if

1. P believes that K

2. P is justified in believing that K

3. It is true that K.

Knowledge decomposed into belief , justification & truth

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Multiple forms of philosophical analysis

Examples: 1. analysis = explication explication = inexact concept  exact concept by informal explanation & illustrative example

Many forms of explication (e.g. Carnap, Kant, Husserl)

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Multiple forms of philosophical analysis


2. analysis = definition

definition = necessary and sufficient conditions for term’s correct application

logical, conceptual, reductive, constructive

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Two kinds of ‘analytic Philosophy‘

1. Philosophy of Language Moore Austin & Ryle - philosophy uncovers nonscientific truths

2. Naturalism “the complete science is a true description of reality: there is no other Truth and no other Reality” (Churchland, 1986)

Differ in aims and methods

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Conclusion of II.a) What does ‘analytic’ mean?

‘analytic philosophy’ = family resemblance concept

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

II.b) What does ‘Continental’ mean?

Examples: Kant, Fichte, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Schelling, Schopenhaur, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Marx, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Brentano, Freud, Saussure, Bergson, Husserl, Cassirer, Jaspers, Bloch, Heidegger, Horkheimer, Gadamer, Lacan, Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Camus, Fouclaut, Habermas, Derrida . . .

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

II.b) What does ‘Continental’ mean?

Continental movements:

Kantianism, German Idealism, Hermeneutics, Philosophy of Life, Young Hegelians, Philosophy of Existence, Phenomenology, Marxism, Neo-Kantianism, Freudianism, Structuralism, Critical Theory, Lacanianism, Post-structuralism, French Feminism . . .

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

Conclusions II.b) What does ‘Continental’ mean?

Not even family resemblance term Means everything not analytic.

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

III.c) What distinguishes them?

Two distinguishing factors: 1. Relations to natural science

2. Relations to history

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The Analytic / Continental Divide

III.c) What distinguishes them?

Relations to history Evolutionary biology vs. Chemistry

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The Analytic / Continental Divide


The question: “What is the distinction between ‘Analytic’ and ‘Continental’ philosophy?” is an awful question.

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The Analytic / Continental Divide