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Continental and analytic philosophy

keithprosser
Posts: 1,951
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11/4/2016 5:30:47 PM
Posted: 1 month ago
Imagine if physics and biology were lumped together as 'phyology'. There would be two very different sort of phyologists with different tools, different mindsets and different agendas.

I think it somewhat like that with philosophy. Analytic and continental philosophy get lumped together as 'philosophy' but they are very different animals. I would characterise the split as being that analytical philosophy is an adjunct to mathematics and the 'hard sciences' and continental philosophy is associated with political, social and other 'soft' sciences. There is also a difference in style. Analytical philosophers are concerned with rigour and detail, continentals with the grand scheme of things.

My taste is very much on the analytical side. I find much contintental philosophy not so much unreadable but unsatisfting because it doesn't argue from or try to drill down to 'first principles'. No doubt there are many who will disagree with this, but contintentals often seem to want to impose principles rather than discover them.

Respond as you like to this! Are you on one side or the other of the analytic/continental divide or am I wrong to think there is a signifcant difference?
Philosophy101
Posts: 122
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11/5/2016 2:28:28 AM
Posted: 1 month ago
At 11/4/2016 5:30:47 PM, keithprosser wrote:
Imagine if physics and biology were lumped together as 'phyology'. There would be two very different sort of phyologists with different tools, different mindsets and different agendas.

I think it somewhat like that with philosophy. Analytic and continental philosophy get lumped together as 'philosophy' but they are very different animals. I would characterise the split as being that analytical philosophy is an adjunct to mathematics and the 'hard sciences' and continental philosophy is associated with political, social and other 'soft' sciences. There is also a difference in style. Analytical philosophers are concerned with rigour and detail, continentals with the grand scheme of things.

My taste is very much on the analytical side. I find much contintental philosophy not so much unreadable but unsatisfting because it doesn't argue from or try to drill down to 'first principles'. No doubt there are many who will disagree with this, but contintentals often seem to want to impose principles rather than discover them.

Respond as you like to this! Are you on one side or the other of the analytic/continental divide or am I wrong to think there is a signifcant difference?

I agree with you that the strategies of the analytic philosophy are different than those of other types of philosophy; however it is more akin to style than anything else. Existentialists, classical and empirical philosophies all different, but analytical philosophy has the same goals. Branches of philosophy include metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics among others. I don't think different approaches are different branches, but rather try to work on similar problems in different approaches.
NHN
Posts: 624
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11/6/2016 6:57:13 PM
Posted: 4 weeks ago
At 11/4/2016 5:30:47 PM, keithprosser wrote:
Respond as you like to this! Are you on one side or the other of the analytic/continental divide or am I wrong to think there is a signifcant difference?
Beyond the separation of "hard" and "soft" sciences, the question ultimately relates to the origin of philosophy. Rationalism and mathematics are foundational in Plato's philosophy, but Plato ultimately regarded dialectics as the highest form of philosophical reasoning -- highest because the dialectical method allows the speaker to entertain contradictions, as well as to involve himself with matters bound in thought which are yet to be defined, or yet to materialize.

The scientific revolution and the subsequent British Enlightenment rendered dialectics void as a valid approach in the Anglosphere, which constitutes the cornerstone of that hard-soft divide. This is likely why the dialectics of Hegel or Marx are so foreign to English speakers; the dialectical method hasn't been present in the philosophical discourse for centuries -- currently demoted to sociology, history, and literary studies -- and neither Socrates nor Plato are ever introduced as dialecticians.

As far as I am concerned, I consider the absence of dialectics troubling, as we seem to have forgotten why Socrates developed this method in the first place: to undermine the sophists.
R0b1Billion
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11/6/2016 7:57:43 PM
Posted: 4 weeks ago
My opinion probably isnt as informed as most on the subject but my rule of thumb is that if it is exact, it really isn't philosophy. Science is exact. I remember I took logic in college, and I was pretty excited about the implications of being able to use exactititude in philosophical reasoning. That is, until I asked my professor how useful any of this stuff was and he told me that anything complicated enough to be interesting to philosophers is way beyond the sentencial-logician's apprehension.

Exactitude in philosophy is very evasive. As you have probably heard me say before, Plato spent the entire Republic trying to define "justice" and couldn't even complete the job. Justice is but a single word we use, one of many we can't define. If we can't define our words then we are absolutely hopeless of exactitude. In science, there is little ambiguity and exactitude prevails. Yes, there are softer sciences, and they are soft precisely because these areas start to lean on philosophy, primarily because we are starting to cross over into fields that try to address consciousness.

I don't like the assertion that philosophy and science both exist on a spectrum between hard and soft. Science is hard, philosophy is soft, and where you stand on that *single* spectrum depends on what mix of the two you have.
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philochristos
Posts: 2,614
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11/12/2016 7:32:53 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
I don't think the difference between analytic and continental philosophy is like the difference between physics and chemistry. Physics underlies chemistry, and they exist in perfect harmony.

Analytic philosophy is ruled by logical and carefully defining things and thinking things through. Continental philosophy basically rejects that. Much of continental philosophy is just incoherent nonsense. For me it isn't a matter of taste.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
keithprosser
Posts: 1,951
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11/12/2016 8:48:33 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
At 11/12/2016 7:32:53 PM, philochristos wrote:
Much of continental philosophy is just incoherent nonsense. For me it isn't a matter of taste.

Phew! I was worried it's just me who thinks like that... :)
BlueDreams
Posts: 199
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11/13/2016 5:23:03 AM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
At 11/6/2016 7:57:43 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
My opinion probably isnt as informed as most on the subject but my rule of thumb is that if it is exact, it really isn't philosophy.

The need for exactitude is dependent on the intellectual "medium" we choose. When we choose to compose poetry, our craft doesn't require necessity. We can frame and question the world through figurative language. In a chemistry experiment, however, the procedures of quantitative analysis must be followed. Just as our need for exactitude variates from discipline to discipline, the need for exactitude changes as we move through each individual work of philosophy. Philosophy need not always be exact. Indeed, as Wittgenstein famously observed, we know that our language has limits in modeling the world, but to express such limits is to transcend them. We are left in this sort of mystical state, having awareness of a condition that can't be fully explicated. The beauty of Wittgenstein's conclusion is just as admirable as its truth; not everything that's true is fully explicable.

Science is exact.

In some ways yes, in some ways no. Look into the philosophy of biology if you want to see some of the conceptual ambiguities underlying modern sciences. The complexities of quantum mechanics offer another example of how scientists don't exactly know the real meaning of their terms. As the threadbare remark goes, "Anyone who says they understand quantum mechanics doesn't understand quantum mechanics", and that goes for its concepts as well.

I remember I took logic in college, and I was pretty excited about the implications of being able to use exactititude in philosophical reasoning. That is, until I asked my professor how useful any of this stuff was and he told me that anything complicated enough to be interesting to philosophers is way beyond the sentencial-logician's apprehension.

I would actually state the opposite. Most argument forms will probably be easily symbolized in sentential or predicate logic. If a philosopher needs other forms of argumentation, however, an extensive collaboration of logicians and computer scientists has produced a plethora of consistent systems of logic that go beyond the limits of sentential and predicate logic.

Exactitude in philosophy is very evasive. As you have probably heard me say before, Plato spent the entire Republic trying to define "justice" and couldn't even complete the job.

That's because there is no "completing the job". Heidegger left us on a similar cliff-hanger as Plato did when he wrote Being and Time. Heidegger understood that knowledge isn't a straight line. It's a spiral. It's the ancient ouroboros.

I don't like the assertion that philosophy and science both exist on a spectrum between hard and soft. Science is hard, philosophy is soft, and where you stand on that *single* spectrum depends on what mix of the two you have.

Who (and by who, I mean people with academic credentials) has advanced this notion?
BlueDreams
Posts: 199
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11/13/2016 5:24:48 AM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
At 11/12/2016 7:32:53 PM, philochristos wrote:
I don't think the difference between analytic and continental philosophy is like the difference between physics and chemistry. Physics underlies chemistry, and they exist in perfect harmony.

Analytic philosophy is ruled by logical and carefully defining things and thinking things through. Continental philosophy basically rejects that. Much of continental philosophy is just incoherent nonsense. For me it isn't a matter of taste.

For me, it's not a matter of taste as much as it is a matter of emphasis and scope.

We've talked about continental philosophy long ago. I think you should try giving Heidegger a chance.
philochristos
Posts: 2,614
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11/13/2016 5:39:26 AM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
At 11/13/2016 5:24:48 AM, BlueDreams wrote:
At 11/12/2016 7:32:53 PM, philochristos wrote:
I don't think the difference between analytic and continental philosophy is like the difference between physics and chemistry. Physics underlies chemistry, and they exist in perfect harmony.

Analytic philosophy is ruled by logical and carefully defining things and thinking things through. Continental philosophy basically rejects that. Much of continental philosophy is just incoherent nonsense. For me it isn't a matter of taste.

For me, it's not a matter of taste as much as it is a matter of emphasis and scope.

We've talked about continental philosophy long ago. I think you should try giving Heidegger a chance.

I gave Heidegger more chances than he deserved. I read two whole books and wrote a college paper on one of them. Heidegger didn't have anything valuable to say that wasn't already said more clearly and articulately by somebody else. Heidegger is a complete waste of time and energy.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,229
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11/13/2016 12:46:17 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
Analytic philosophy is the only philosophy.
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Kynikos
Posts: 53
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11/15/2016 1:29:57 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/13/2016 12:46:17 PM, ShabShoral wrote:
Analytic philosophy is the only philosophy.

Analytic philosophy isn't philosophy. Just tiresome.
PureX
Posts: 1,522
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11/21/2016 3:50:01 PM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/4/2016 5:30:47 PM, keithprosser wrote:
My taste is very much on the analytical side. I find much contintental philosophy not so much unreadable but unsatisfting because it doesn't argue from or try to drill down to 'first principles'. No doubt there are many who will disagree with this, but contintentals often seem to want to impose principles rather than discover them.

Respond as you like to this! Are you on one side or the other of the analytic/continental divide or am I wrong to think there is a signifcant difference?

The human brain is essentially 'binary', in that it tends to "think" via repeatedly comparing and contrasting related information sets. The result of which tends to create these kinds of "either/or" perceptual divisions. Divisions that don't actually exist in the "real world".

So that my presumption is that to better understand the "real world", we need to practice at uniting and integrating those conceptual divisions as seamlessly as we can, in our minds, rather than entrenching them as ideological facsimiles.
Philosophy101
Posts: 122
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11/22/2016 1:46:31 AM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/13/2016 12:46:17 PM, ShabShoral wrote:
Analytic philosophy is the only philosophy.

That's odd, I find analytical philosophy to be undigestible. I much prefer ancient and existentialist philosophy.