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Inleidingen in de filosofie

Voorkant Critchley 'Continental Philosophy' Simon CRITCHLEY
Continental philosophy - A very short introduction
New York: Oxford University Press, 2001;
ISBN: 01 9285 3597

(1) Chapter 1 - The Gap between Knowledge and Wisdom

"So, philosophy is the reflective life, the examined life, the assumption being that the unexamined life is not worth living. Philosophy should form human beings and not just inform them. () Philosophy was an eminently practical activity, which is markedly different from the overwhelmingly theoretical enquiry it has become since the 17th century."(1)

"In my view, the problem here is not so much with people outside philosophy as with people inside philosophy, our professional philosophers. For most of us, the very idea that philosophy might be concerned with the question of the meaning of life or the attainment of a good and happy human life is something of a joke, and furthermore a joke in rather poor taste. Such questions are relegated to the realm of what is patronizingly called 'folk psychology'. For the most part, professional philosophy has happily conceded this terrain to the vast and everrising tide of books on 'mind, body, and spirit", those rows of brightly coloured New Age titles that sit embarrassingly near the ever shrinking philosophy sections in high street book stores. Professional philosophy has largely given up such battles and taken early retirement."(3)

"This is one expression of the historical and spiritual experience that is known as the Enlightenment: we are left with an experiential gap between the realms of knowledge and wisdom, truth and meaning, theory and practice, causal explanation and existential understanding."(8)

"This means that the question of wisdom, and its related question of the meaning of life, should at the very least move closer to the centre of philosophical activity and not be treated with indifference, embarrassment, or even contempt. The appeal of much that goes under the name of Continental philosophy, in my view, is that it attempts to unify or at least move closer together questions of knowledge and wisdom, of philosophical truth and existential meaning."(9)

Analytische filosofie vanaf Frege en fenomenologie vanaf Husserl. De basis is hetzelfde, de uitwerking verschillend (Dummett). Het heeft geleid tot de logisch - mathematische - natuurwetenschappelijke - empirische traditie (voornamelijk in Angelsaksische landen) en de intuitief - fenomenologische - hermeneutische - handelingsgerichte - maatschappijkritische traditie (vooral continentaal).

(12) Chapter 2 - Origins of Continental Philosophy: How to get from Kant to German Idealism

"In 1784 Hamann wrote his Metacritique of the Purism of Reason, where he criticized Kant for formalism, namely for his overvaluation of the formal character of knowledge, and for the belief that reason could be separated from experience, the a priori could be divorced from the a posteriori. Hamann's critique foreshadows that of his friend, and indeed longtime housemate, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, as well as that of Hegel, and takes the following shape: that Kant's critical philosophy breaks down into a series of vicious dualisms (form versus content, sensibility versus understanding, reason versus experience, nature versus freedom, the pure versus the practical, and so on), and that the primacy of practical reason is a mere empty formalism of abstract duty.

"For Hamann, in another uncanny prediction of later philosophical developments, namely the linguistic turn, the separation between reason and experience, or form and content, is impossible because thought depends on language, which is, of course, a mixture of both."(20/22)

"The question of the status of reason and rationality versus the irrationality of much of human existence is a conflict that is at the heart of disagreements in the Continental tradition to this day, for example in the modernism/postmodernism debate that defined much of the 1980s and early 1990s. Beiser rightly concludes, "It is no exaggeration to say that this controversy set one of the defining issues of the whole Continental tradition, the problem of the authority of reason. The so-called 'postmodern predicament' really began, then, in 1786."(23)

"Although the historical detail of the debate is both interesting and slightly depressing, it becomes philosophically substantial when Jacobi weighs in in 1799 with his Letter to Fichte. In this text, we find the first philosophical employment of the concept of nihilism. For Jacobi, simply stated, Fichte's position, known as Fichtean idealism, is nihilism."(26)

"Against what he sees as the monism of Fichtean idealism, Jacobi argues for a form of philosophical dualism, where beyond the philosophical preoccupation with truth (die Wahrheit) lies the sphere of the true (das Wahre), which is only accessible to faith or the heart. Once again, Jacobi's critique of Fichte is strongly reminiscent of Pascal's critique of Descartes, where nihilism is the accusation levelled by a Christian worldview at a secularizing rationalism."(27)

"Thus, one might say that there is a path in the Continental tradition from the critique of Kant in Hamann and Jacobi, through to the religious and, indeed, irreligious anti-rationalism of Kierkegaard, Stirner, and Dostoevsky through to the post-war French existentialism of Sartre and Camus. (28)

"The combined effect of the criticism of Kant's philosophy in the 1780s and 1790s was that the Enlightenment faith in reason seemed more questionable than ever."(29)

"What it is important to see here is how Maimon's criticisms set the tone for post-Kantian philosophy. how do we overcome the pernicious dualisms of the Kantian system? What is required is some higher, unifying principle that would be immune to these criticisms. It is with this question that Fichte and German idealism begins. Fichte located this unifying principle in the activity of the subject. The dualism of theory and practice is unified in the self-reflection of the subject, its consciousness of freedom. This was the view that Fichte explored in the celebrated The Doctrine of Science (1794). For the young Schelling, on the contrary, the unifying principle was the notion of force or life, expressed in his early philosophy of nature. For Hegel, it was the notion of Spirit, for Arthur Schopenhauer it was the notion of the Will, for Nietzsche it was Power, for Marx it was Praxis, for Freud it was the Unconscious, for Heidegger it was Being. This list could be extended. The point here is that the problematic of Continental philosophy arose out of these criticisms of Kant and must be understood in this context."(31)

(32) Chapter 3 - Spectacles and Eyes to See With: Two cultures in philosophy

Er zijn allerlei bezwaren tegen de onderscheiding Anglo-Amerikaanse vs Continentale filosofie. Geografisch klopt het al niet (Frege, Carnap, Wittgenstein, Wiener Kreis), dan zou het eerder 'Anglo-Austrian' (Dummett) zijn. Maar ook inhoudelijk niet.

"It would not take a genius to realize that there are grave problems with the distinction between analytic and Continental philosophy."(32)

"There is something ultimately parochial and intellectually cowardly about identifying oneself with either side of a perceived philosophical divide, because it prevents the possible intellectual challenges that would be the consequence of a dialogue outside of one's professional entrenchments."(34)

"As such, the gulf between analytic and Continental philosophy is the expression of a deep cultural divide between differing and opposed habits of thought - let's call them Benthamite and Coleridgean, or empirical-scientific and hermeneutic-romantic."(48)

"There has been, for Toulmin, an unrecognized twin trajectory of modernity - humanistic and scientific - which has led to the breakdown or breaking apart of the integrity of theory and practice, truth and meaning, or knowledge and wisdom."(52)

(54) Chapter 4 - Can Philosophy Change the World? Critique, praxis, emancipation

"Richard Rorty is one of the few English-speaking philosophers who has consistently and heroically attempted to blur the distinction between analytic and Continental philosophy by working with a foot in both camps. He has consequently and unjustifiably been shot at by both sides for getting it wrong."(55)

"Yet Rorty's remark does capture something interesting, insofar as books, papers, and discussions in contemporary Continental philosophy, both on the Continent and in the English-speaking world, have a tendency to focus around the texts of a particular canonical philosopher, or offer a comparative study of the texts of two or more philosophers."(55)

"It is fair to say that this practice often mystifies and infuriates philosophers trained in the analytic tradition, who maintain that Continental philosophers are only doing commentary and not original thinking: this is mere Frenchified explication de texte and not rigorous philosophical argumentation."(56)

[Dat is nu boeiend. Ik heb zelf ook heel vaak dat gevoel en erger me regelmatig aan dat filosofen blijkbaar niets kunnen schrijven zonder voortdurend te refereren aan en/of commentaar te leveren op andere filosofen. Ik heb mezelf vaak de vraag gesteld: wat is het nu dat je zelf te vertellen hebt? wat is jouw eigen verhaal? Ik vind dat eeuwige geciteer echt typisch voor de huidige academische filosofie. Je schrijft om carrière te maken, en niet omdat je een verhaal kwijt moet, niet omdat je echt iets te vertellen heb.]

[Alleen vind ik dat dat net zo goed geldt voor de filosofen in de analytische traditie. Ook daar zogezegd een en al voetnoten bij Wittgenstein.]

[Je kunt dus heel algemeen steeds de vraag stellen wat een bepaalde filosoof afzondert van de meute. Is Wittgenstein zo origineel? Waar zit dat dan in? Zo'n geschiedenis van de filosofie zou ik wel willen lezen. Wie heeft werkelijk iets origineels te vertellen in de filosofie?]

"It is not that philosophy in the Continental tradition is dismissive of problems - far from it - it is rather that problems are often approached textually and contextually, and therefore demand a different mode of treatment, one that might appear more indirect."(56)

"() it also implies that systematic philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence."(57)

"So, the interest in Levinas arises in the context of the ethical and political myopia of Heidegger's thinking and, by implication, in the thinking which Heidegger inspired, notably Derrida's deconstruction."(58)

Ook in de analytische traditie begint er iets te ontstaan van besef van de eigen geschiedenis (er zijn biografieën en geschiedenissen geschreven de laatste jaren).

"One might say that the touchstone of philosophy in the Continental tradition is the question of praxis: that is to say, our historically and culturally embedded life as finite selves in a world that is of our own making. It is this touchstone of praxis that leads philosophy towards a critique of present conditions, as conditions not amenable to freedom, and towards the emancipatory demand that things be otherwise, the demand for a transformative practice of philosophy, art, thinking, or politics."(72-73)

"For much of the Continental tradition, philosophy is a means to criticize the present, to promote a reflective awareness of the present as being in crisis, whether this is expressed as a crisis of faith in a bourgeois philistine world (in Kierkegaard), a crisis of the European sciences (in Husserl), of the human sciences (in Foucault), of nihilism (in Nietzsche), of the forgetfulness of Being (in Heidegger), of bourgeois-capitalist society (in Marx), of the hegemony of instrumental rationality and the domination of nature (in Adorno and Max Horkheimer), or whatever. Philosophy as an acute reflection upon history, culture, and society leads to the awakening of critical consciousness, what Husserl would call the reactivation of a sedimented tradition. To push this a little further, the responsibility of the philosopher - in Husserl's formula 'the civil servant of humanity' - is the production of crisis, disturbing the slow accumulation of the deadening sediment of tradition in the name of a reactivating historical critique, whose horizon would be an emancipated life-world. Philosophy in the Continental tradition has an emancipatory intent."(74)

[Mooie idealen. Maar kijk je naar de academische filosofie, wat zie je dan terug van die visie?]

(72) Chapter 5 - What is to be Done? How to respond to nihilism

"This raises the following question: how is freedom to be instantiated or to take effect in the world of nature, if the latter is governed by causality and mechanistically determined by the laws of nature? How is the causality of the natural world reconcilable with what Kant calls 'the causality of freedom'?(76)

"Such is the problem that Nietzsche diagnoses in the 1880s with the concept of nihilism - a concept that is absolutely decisive for a whole range of 20th-century Continental thinkers: Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Julia Kristeva. Namely that the recognition of the subject's freedom goes hand in hand with the collapse of moral certainty in the world."(78)

Volgt een korte weergave van het Russische en Nietzsches nihilisme.

"Thus, to put it rather grandly, the problem of philosophical modernity, as presented so far, is how to confront the problem of nihilism after one has seen how the values of Enlightenment not only fail to get a grip on everyday life, but lead instead to its progressive dissolution. In my view, this is the problem that Continental philosophers return to again and again, either by trying to find a new way of responding to the problem, as for example in Habermas and Derrida, or by refusing the historical and philosophical terms in which the problem is posed, for example in Rorty."(86)

"After Nietzsche this concern with nihilism bifurcates into two different traditions of reflection on the crisis of the modern world, that can be coded as progressive and reactionary modernism. On the one hand, in the wake of Hegel's radical inheritors, like Ludwig Feuerbach and the young Marx, the philosophical critique of modernity merges with the more progressive German sociological critique of modernity that finds its definitive expression in the work of thinkers like Weber and Georg Simmel. This tradition continues with great fecundity in what is called 'Western Marxism' and the first generation of the Frankfurt School from the 1930s onwards. The most distinguished contemporary representative of this approach to modernity is Habermas, who held, significantly, a chair in philosophy and sociology at Frankfurt. This tradition continues to this day in the work of Habermas's successor at Frankfurt, Axel Honneth. Methodologically, this tradition is characterized by the belief in the reciprocal fertility of philosophy and sociology. That is, philosophical categories need to be sociologically mediated if they are to have any effectiveness; but sociological research requires the critical and reflective presence of philosophy to prevent it collapsing into positivism. Politically, this tradition of progressive modernism has been tied to various leftist currents of thought, whether Marxist or social democrat.

"On the other hand, there is the more conservative critique of modernity that can be found in thinkers like Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Jünger. In Spengler's formulation, the West is an 'ageing culture' that has entered an irreversible decline, like the late decadence of ancient Rome. The philosophical continuation of this tradition of social criticism in terms of a narrative of decline and collapse can be found in Heidegger, particularly in his reflections on technology from the late 1940s and 1950s. But also - unexpectedly perhaps - one can find this tradition of pessimistic cultural critique in Wittgenstein, who, in texts like Culture and Value, shows himself strongly influenced by Spengler."(87-88)

(90) Chapter 6 - A Case Study in Misunderstanding: Heidegger and Carnap

"Essentially, this is a dispute between the scientific conception of the world, advanced by Carnap and the Vienna Circle, and the existential or 'hermeneutic' experience of the world in Heidegger."(90)

Weergave van Heidegger's insteek in zijn lezing Was ist Metaphysik? van 1929 en later Sein und Zeit.

"However, although Heidegger and Carnap both use the formula 'overcoming metaphysics', what they mean by it is strikingly different."(95)

Volgt het verhaal van Carnap.

"On 15-17 September 1929, less than two months after Heidegger's lecture, there was a meeting of the Ernst Mach Association in Prague. It was decided to present a gift to Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), the ıminence grise in what was to be baptized, with that gift, the Vienna Circle. Schlick had been away in Stanford as guest professor and had just turned down the offer of a chair in Bonn. The gift was a short text, essentially a manifesto, called 'The Scientific Conception of the World. The Vienna Circle'. The main text was anonymously authored, but the preface was signed by three members of the Circle: Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath, and Rudolf Carnap, although the radicalism of its content and the polemical tone of the prose reflect the views of Neurath, the most politically committed of the logical positivists. This little text would henceforth be known to initiates as 'the yellow brochure'."(99)

"For the Viennese positivists, Heidegger's work is the return to a reactionary, antiscientific metaphysics, which is allied politically to pan-Germanic aspirations. The next decade would prove Carnap tragically justified in his suspicions, and all the prominent members of the Vienna Circle, many of whom were Jewish, left around the time of the Anschluss with Nazi Germany in 1936. As Bertrand Russell remarked, 'The severe logical training to which these men submitted themselves had, it appeared, rendered them immune to the infection of passionate dogma ...' In opposition to Heidegger's passionate political commitment to National Socialism in 1933, which was followed by a deepening quietism that has also troubled his followers, Carnap adopted consistently leftist views throughout his life, and indeed in the 1960s was active in the anti-racist movement in the USA."(100)

"Carnap's main claim in his 1932 paper is that metaphysical statements are neither logically nor empirically verifiable. For example, if I say that 'anxiety reveals the being of being human', then the logical positivist will ask, is this proposition logically verifiable? No, because it is neither a tautology nor a contradiction. So, is it then empirically verifiable? No, because 'being' is not a given fact like a jacaranda tree. Therefore the proposition is meaningless. And what goes for that proposition goes for all metaphysical propositions: if they are not verifiable, then they are meaningless and can be simply overcome through logical analysis."(101)

(111) Chapter 7 - Scientism versus Obscurantism: Avoiding the traditional predicament in philosophy

"As I argued in Chapter 4, the fact that so much philosophy in the Continental tradition can be said to respond to a sense of crisis in the modern world, and to attempt to produce a critical consciousness of the present with an emancipatory intent, goes some way to explaining its most salient and dramatic difference from much analytic philosophy, namely its anti-scientism. From a Continental perspective, the adoption of scientism in philosophy fails to grasp the critical and emancipatory function of philosophy: that is, it fails to see the possible complicity between a scientific conception of the world and what Nietzsche saw as nihilism. It fails fundamentally to see the role that science and technology play in the alienation of human beings from the world."(111)

"The critique of scientism resides in the belief that the model of the natural sciences cannot and, moreover, should not provide a model for philosophical method, and that the natural sciences do not provide human beings with their primary and most significant access to the world. One finds this belief expressed in a whole range of Continental thinkers, such as Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger, and the philosophers associated with the Frankfurt School from the 1930s onwards. In this connection, Habermas's book Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) cannot be recommended too highly. For Habermas, scientism means science's belief in itself: that is, "the conviction that we can no longer understand science as one form of knowledge, but rather must identify knowledge with science'. Knowledge and Human Interests is a systematic critique of scientism that proceeds historically by reconstructing the emergence of positivism out of the reception of Kant's critical philosophy in the mid-19th century, in the work of Ernst Mach and Auguste Comte. Essentially, Habermas recounts the prehistory of the Vienna Circle's scientific conception of the world, but his intent is both critical and emancipatory. He argues that positivism and scientism constitute the disavowal of any notion of critical reflection, the kind of reflection embodied in the work of Kant and in the German idealist development of that critical project that provided the basis for an emancipatory social theory in Marx, Weber, and the early Frankfurt School."(111-112)

"There is, however, a danger that a legitimate worry about scientism can develop into an anti-scientific attitude. This is the risk of obscurantism."(113)

Vandaar een uitwerking van de fenomenologie die kritiek heeft op het scientisme zonder in obscurantisme te vervallen.

"That is to say, scientism, or what Husserl calls objectivism, overlooks the phenomenon of the life-world as the enabling condition for scientific practice. In The Crisis of the European Sciences, Husserl describes the life-world ... (114-115)

"... in Habermas's terms, theoretical knowledge is rooted in practical interests. Furthermore, as will become clearer below, it shows that such practices require interpretative clarification or a hermeneutics, and not the causal hypotheses of natural science or the causal-sounding explanations of pseudo-science. What phenomenology provides is a clarifying redescription of persons, things, and the world we inhabit. As such, phenomenology does not produce any great discoveries, but rather gives us a series of reminders of matters with which we were acquainted, but which become covered up when we assume the theoretical attitude of the natural sciences. Phenomenology provides what we might call (everyday anamnesis), a recollection of the background practices and routines that make up the delicate web of ordinary life."(117)

"Obscurantism might here be defined as the rejection of the causal explanations offered by natural science by referring them to an alternative causal story, that is somehow of a higher order, but essentially occult. That is, obscurantism is the replacement of a scientific form of explanation, which is believed to be scientistic, with a counter-scientific, mysterious, but still causal explanation the earthquake was not caused by plate tectonics but by God's anger at our sinfulness."()

"Familiar candidates for obscurantist explanation are the will of God, the ubiquity of alien intelligence, the action of the stars on human behaviour, and so on. Less obvious, but arguably equally pernicious candidates are the drives in Freud, Jung's archetypes, the real in Lacan, power in Foucault, différance in Derrida, the trace of God in Levinas, or indeed the epochal withdrawal of being in and as history in the later Heidegger. This list might be extended."(118)

"This felt gap between knowledge and wisdom is the very space of critical reflection. In philosophy, but also more generally in cultural life, we need to clip the wings of both scientism and obscurantism and thereby avoid what is worst in both Continental and analytic philosophy. That is, we need to avoid the error of believing that we can resolve through causal or causal-sounding explanation what demands phenomenological clarification."(120)

(123) Chapter 8 - Sapere aude: The exhaustion of theory and the promise of philosophy

Terwijl er binnen de analytische traditie wat meer gedacht wordt in continentale lijnen, is er op het continent filosofisch gezien niet veel nieuws te vinden.

"More widely, Germany is philosophically somehow becalmed, and the great post-war generation of Habermas, Karl-Otto Apel, Ernst Tugendhat, Michael Theunissen, Dieter Henrich, and Niklas Luhmann are almost all either deceased or retired, and their successors have not yet reached their intellectual heights.

"And let's face it, Paris is not what it was. The collapse of neo-Kantianism in France in the 1930s and the rise of what the French called 'les trois H' (Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger) produced two generations of stunning intellectual brilliance. In the first generation, one thinks of Levinas, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, Bataille, and Blanchot. In the second generation, one thinks of Althusser, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard, and Kristéva. But while Derrida is still very much going strong, and there is plenty of interesting philosophical work going on (in particular the renaissance of French moral and political philosophy) and an intriguing renewal of phenomenology, one has the impression that none of this is exactly going to set the world alight."(124)

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