I came across this interesting account of analytic – continental divide,” Before and Beyond the Analytic Divide” (pdf), by Matthew Sharpe, wherein he suggests:
…a rapprochement between analytic and continental philosophers is a good we might at least pray for, as the ancients would have said. Why?
First, because both sides, as well as harboring virtues, also do harbor the type of vices and limits the others’ prejudices typically pick out. Continental philosophy often does verge into anti-realistic, unfalsifiable, and nonsensical formulations…Analytic philosophy, for its part, does not allow itself to raise many questions which are ‘philosophical’, certainly in the sense in which philosophy was understood until the seventeenth century, and is still understood by laypeople today: what is the meaning of being, or of our being? Can the sense of “truth” be reduced to something internal to propositions, rather than attitudes, systems of understanding, beliefs, ways of life, or certain experiences? What is the best way of life or regime? What is the relationship between ethics, politics, religion, art, and philosophy? Is our modern or postmodern age any better than previous societies? And if so, in what respects, and with what costs? It is legitimate to long for Heidegger or Hans Blumenberg, when asked to consider for too long, in a time of fast tracked social change, what it is like to be a bat, or to have a lead role in the prisoners’ dilemma.
Second: a rapprochement of analytic philosophy with some extra-scientific, but defensibly rational, way of understanding the whole, is desirable. It is desirable because the modern scientific Weltanschauung is predicated on a fact-value distinction, and before that on the later medieval attack on final causes. But this means that its objectivity excludes—indeed, it threatens to render ‘ir-rational’—any normative criteria for making the ethical and political decisions that are the unavoidable stuff of our shared life. We will return to the consequences of this. They turn around how the philosopher, once he leaves the study, is also a citizen. So if his philosophy—whether analytic or continental—cannot offer guidance on ethical and political questions, he must decide like everybody else on extra-rational grounds of fear, passion, or tradition—or at least he cannot philosophically critique any of these ethico-political motiva-tions.
Third: a rapprochement between analytic and continental philosophers is desirable since both sides are arguably blind to their shared modern presuppositions, despite the well-attested ambivalence of many continentals about modernity in general and science in particular. We moderns can only know what we make. There is a world of difference between ancient contemplative episteme and the Baconian intention to put nature on the rack using active experimentation, so we might pry loose her secrets. For the analytic philosophers, this is why our linguistic and conceptual equipment, however conceived, is the privileged object of the analysis, and the thought experiment is a principle modus operandi. For the continental philo-sophers, this is why human history, and the art and texts produced by numin-ous authorities, are the privileged object of analysis, and hermeneutics is the principle modus operandi. For both traditions, then, nature cannot be philosophically comprehended: either science takes this laurel or else nature appears, in forms of continental vitalism, as radically resistant to, or excessive of, any rational determination.
Divided in what they stand for, that is, the analytics and continentals are unit-ed in philosophical possibilities both exclude. Both reflect in different ways what historians of ideas have called modern world-alienation…
Fourthly, both lineages of twentieth century philosophy, as modern, miss the orienting fact that philosophy is a way of life.
Thoughts? My knee jerk reaction is that (1) is a bit overblown, (2) seems right, but I wonder why this would demand a rapprochement between the two cultures/camps/styles, (3) seems right in principle, but I’m not quite sure this is actually the case, and (4) seems to be a gross generalization. I’ll have to think about this some more and time permitting, expand on each, of course.