Re: Continental vs. Analytical...

I think Blaine's objections and call to analysis is worth noting. I
specificall liked his point on the relational difference of the two
schools, something that not only Wittgenstein, but Derrida would be sure
to note. But even if they, trade on the same concept, I would lean more
to notion that the two schools play a different "language game" and
would follow Rorty in saying that intellectual history is not about
getting closer "to the way things really are," but about changing our
language games.

But the whole notion of language games perhaps provides an interesting
test case. Would, and in what way, analytic philosophers agree to these
terms (this langauge game, I would say) in order to characterize their
differences with continental philosophy? When I use this phrase to
describe the difference between analytic and continental philosophy, I
believe that I am, with this very terminology, already arguing AGAINST
the analytic view that philosophy's job is to move us "closer to the way
things really are." Is this a fair characterization? Does anyone else
want to use the idea of language games as a test case?


On Wed, 10 May 1995 brehkopf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> In response to the claims that continental and analytical approaches are
> fundamentally incommensurable...
> I think that they are not incommensurable. Yes, there are definite and
> deep points of contention, but incommensurability is something else.
> There are disagreements within analytic philosophy that seem greater
> than those between some analytics and some continentals. To maintain
> the distinction as real is then groundless, I would say. A groundlessness that
> might be termed "philosophism" or "disciplinism", not so different from the
> groundlessness of racism, sexism, heterosexism, or speciesism.
> Certainly we ought not to think that continental philosophy and analytic
> philosophy consist in real kinds.
> Wittgenstein would point out that for there to be disagreement, there
> must first be agreement. Have analytics and continentals staked out
> entirely different territory? No, they do disagree on certain
> questions, but the fact that these questions are conceptualizable within
> each approach suggests something is shared. And if they have different
> terms for similar concepts, or different concepts with shared names,
> that is not incommensurability. Incommensurability means that not only
> would agreement be impossible, but also that disagreement would be
> impossible.
> To analytic philosophers, it might be best at this point to enumerate
> all the territory that is shared, and all that is not. I won't go
> through that exercise here, nor do I pretend to know all that is shared.
> To continental philosophers, and especially to those interested in
> Foucault, I would ask them to consider what relations of power culminate
> in or maintain the conclusion that analytic and continental philosophies are
> fundamentally incommensurable. There are clearly benefits associated
> with such compartmentalization, aren't there? What discourses are
> enabled by promoting this disciplinary separatism?
> Presumably, there are benefits to drawing such strict boundaries; and
> the boundaries remain because both of the sides have an interest in
> maintaining the boundary. Perhaps an enumeration of those benefits
> would, as it were, paint the shared territory in relief.
> I'm certainly not arguing that analytics and continentals should just
> get along. My point is that they get along too easily, because they
> don't take seriously the challenges that each throws up to the other.
> Promoting the idea that they are incommensurable means that they would
> not need to consider those challenges, and I think that's too easy.
> In effect, I guess I would most want to challenge the use of the word
> "incommensurable". Think of theism and atheism. Are they
> incommensurable? No. They trade on the same concepts; the reason there
> can be theism is because there can be atheism. And vice versa. They
> are relational terms. And, I would argue, analytic and continental are
> relational terms. One cannot be both an analytic and a continental
> [simultaneously, that is]. Thus, they are not incommensurable. If they
> were incommensurable, they would not obey the p or -p rule, and one
> could simultaneously be both.
> Hope my logic's correct. :)
> Blaine Rehkopf
> Philosophy
> York University
> --

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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