While my first instinct was to simply ignore Brian Leiter’s discussion of “Party Line Continental Philosophers,” since it appears to be nothing more than a straw man, I came across this rather thoughtful response at a blog called Speculative Humbug:
Leiter suggests (or rather alludes to his having suggested elsewhere) that we are living in a ‘Golden Age’ for (Anglophone) scholarship on the history of post-Kantian European philosophy. While this is perhaps overstating the case a bit (important recent figures, such as Deleuze and Badiou, are still quite neglected), it is certainly true that the history of philosophy has a much more considerable presence and respectibility in the Anglophone philosophical academy than it had at the height of of the dominance of the analytic movement. Various figures have been influential in breaking with the ahistorical paradigm that previously dominated, not least amongst whom is the critically important yet still strangely subliminal Wilfrid Sellars. In the wake of these figures, Anglophone scholarly work on Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and perhaps especially on phenomenology abounds.
The post continues:
On this basis, Leiter objects to the idea (which he associates with PLC) that much of this scholarly work consists in an ‘analytic appropriation’ (implicitly a misappropriation and a distortion) of ‘continental’ thinkers, obscuring the true power of their thought. Leiter regards this notion of analytic appropriation as misguided, and suggests that we must foster ‘philosophical scholarship in the Anglophone world in which “analytic” and “Continental” as terms of partisan battle are largely uintelligible to those drawn to the problems of philosophy’.
While this is an extremely worthwhile sentiment, I wonder whether Leiter remains insensitive to what seems to me to be a real distinction in scholarship on the history of post-Kantian philosophy, one that might perhaps be seen as the real distinction of which the rightly maligned analytic-continental distinction is an obfuscatory manifestation.
Read the rest here. For now, I’ll just say this, the analytic-continental divide is at bottom, sociological and not philosophical.