Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Various posts on the relation of Anglo-American/ "Analytic" and "Continental" philosophy. In late Feb. Leiter linked to Gary Gutting in the Times, posting a passage from Gutting
These differences concern their conceptions of experience and of reason as standards of evaluation. Typically, analytic philosophy appeals to experience understood as common-sense intuitions (as well as their developments and transformations by science) and to reason understood as the standard rules of logical inference. A number of continental approaches claim to access a privileged domain of experience that penetrates beneath the veneer of common sense and science experience. For example, phenomenologists, such as Husserl, the early Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty try to describe the concretely lived experience from which common-sense/scientific experience is a pale and distorted abstraction, like the mathematical frequencies that optics substitutes for the colors we perceive in the world. Similarly, various versions of neo-Kantianism and idealism point to a “transcendental” or “absolute” consciousness that provides the fuller significance of our ordinary experiences.

Other versions of continental thought regard the essential activity of reason not as the logical regimentation of thought but as the creative exercise of intellectual imagination. This view is characteristic of most important French philosophers since the 1960s, beginning with Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze. They maintain that the standard logic analytic philosophers use can merely explicate what is implicit in the concepts with which we happen to begin; such logic is useless for the essential philosophical task, which they maintain is learning to think beyond these concepts.

Continental philosophies of experience try to probe beneath the concepts of everyday experience to discover the meanings that underlie them, to think the conditions for the possibility of our concepts. By contrast, continental philosophies of imagination try to think beyond those concepts, to, in some sense, think what is impossible.
Another more recently by Jon Cogburn at NewApps. The best thing there is a comment by John McCumber
Current discussion of the analytic-continental divide is unlikely to reach substantive conclusions because so much of it ignores a salient fact: that one approach is consonant with the rational choice ideology of the mightiest empire the world has ever seen, while the other—just by its emphasis on history—questions it. Such a circumstance is bound to introduce distortions into both approaches, and philosophers need to locate and remove those distortions.

If they do, one thing they will find is an intellectually nimble and critically alive combination of both approaches I call “situating reason;” but there are doubtless many other such amalgams as well. In the present state of discussion, however, none of them will ever see the light of day. Can it be that—unless we change our ways—the main thing standing in the way of philosophy is philosophers?
Another post at NewApps by John Protevi. Worth reading for the quoted passage by Adrian Moore
Another facet of the break between them [Hegel and Nietzsche] is interestingly reflected in one of the contrasts between analytic philosophy and [continental] philosophy.... Both Hegel and Nietzsche have a particular concern with difference and specifically with change.... In analytic philosophy, by contrast, there is typically a greater emphasis on identity.* But not only that; there is also typically a prioritization of identity. It is extremely difficult for analytic philosophers to think of difference in anything other than negative terms; that is, to avoid thinking of what is different as what is not the same, or as what does not have some feature that some given thing does have.** The philosophers whose work we shall be exploring later [e.g., Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze] reverse this prioritization. And in this respect Hegel is closer to the former. He too construes difference negatively. Not so Nietzsche. Nietzsche fully anticipates what is to come. The positive construal of difference, as something that betokens affirmation and something that is itself to be affirmed, is profoundly Nietzschean.*** (399; italics in original)
For more on Protevi, see here and here

The observations are all obvious, and the defensiveness of the responses (not included here) are predictable. Students ideologize the writings of their masters even more than the masters do themselves. Ideologies relating to sense are distinct from those of method or technics, but they're all ideologies. The former are preferable only depending on how they're managed. All philosophizing is definable as reification since theory is required to precede action. Continental philosophy theorizes and therefore reifies otherness and the inevitability of error rather than acting on or through an understanding. In democracy practice precedes theory. Analytic philosophy wills away the possibility of substantive, foundational, error entirely.

Repeating the last post: Lessons for solidarity Palestine can teach us
As a South African who has lived and suffered under apartheid and spent nearly thirty years of my adult life in its jails for resisting it, I can and do humbly claim to know something about the meaning of apartheid.

...Israel’s separate roads, defacto Mixed Marriages Act, trials by military courts, the unfair allocation of resources (particularly water), racist citizenship laws, assigning and denying rights to people on the basis of ethnicity, the destruction of the homes of indigenous people who have lived and worked the land for centuries to make way for newcomers who share a common gene pool with the rulers, the uprooting of olive trees, detention without trial, pass laws, the tiniest pieces of land given the to largest part of the population … I know of no other word for this but apartheid.
It's less the claim that what the author says is "true" than the fact that what he says is discounted by those who think it isn't, not actively, by arguing, but in silence. If there is to be a Jewish State for a Jewish people, codified in law, why not a German state for a German people? If ethnocracy for one why not for all? Is that liberalism? If you believe it is then you should argue the case. No one does. For many liberals in the Anglo American tradition it's enough to say: "We define ourselves as Liberal Zionists, therefore Liberal Zionism must be possible." Difference is denied, and with it the validity of a Palestinian response.

Again, the issue is less "truth" than engagement. More repeats: The rules of evidence in law are such that it does not matter whether illegally obtained evidence is potentially dispositive. What matters is the method by which it was obtained and the dangers of those methods setting a precedent. In arguing that Zionism is racism or that anthropogenic global warming exists, you can't fall back solely on claims of reason and arguments concerning agnotology. After all, everyone I know who uses that term is also a principled defender of Israel. The point is not that others live in glass houses, but that we all run the risk.

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