I’ve been reading through some of the essays in Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing the Divide this morning (NDPR review here). While I’m hoping to say some more about those essays later on, (for one, there is a particularly excellent essay about transcendental reasoning) a remark early on in the introduction made me chuckle. Discussing two approaches to the analytic-continental divide, a deflationary view (which calls into question the distinction altogether) and the more essentialist position (which insists on the two ‘houses’), the editors note:
However we characterize or dismiss the distinction in theory, in practice it has for many years been very much a feature of the day to day activities of contemporary philosophers. Academic philosophers, journals, conferences, publication series and even entire publishing houses, all now often live entirely within on or the other tradition. in some cases, the result is that continental philosophers have effectively been consigned to other disciplines, like comparative literature. More usually, philosophers simply inhabit their own tradition without attending to the other–perhaps looking at or attending occasional papers from the other side out of collegial politeness or personal loyalty, and often regretting it when they do (3-4).
Just recently I attended a colleague’s lecture out of a misguided sense of loyalty (though I was merely being polite) and was filled with remorse after the first ten minutes. Again, out of a misguided sense of politeness I even asked a ridiculous question to boot! Anyway, I’ve tried to think through the ‘analytic-continental’ distinction as sociological, rather than philosophical, but I often hit a wall with Heidegger’s critique of logic in “What is Metaphysics.” Mikhail’s stupid Downer Principle has prevented me from flatly claiming the distinction is merely sociological. However, in the end of the day I think the divide cashes out in terms of, for the most part, precisely who we read and make reference to. That same colleague and I were joking how we have completely different reading lists for an Aesthetics course, and are, for the most part ignorant about the content of each other’s lists. So, we have a list of authors one typically associates w/”Continental” philosophy (as well as “analytic0, but, these authors often have very little, if at all, in common, be it style, method or “doxa.” In turn, I’m wondering why we group them together at all.