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Voorkant Glendinning 'The idea of continental philosophy' Simon GLENDINNING
The idea of continental philosophy - A philosophical chronicle
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006;
ISBN-13: 978 07 4862 4713

(1) 1. Starting Points

"... I will defend a view that ploughs a relentlessly sceptical furrow with respect to the idea of a distinctive Continental tradition in modern philosophy."(2)

"At the same time as I was writing my Introduction, one of the leading British authorities on phenomenology and deconstruction, Simon Critchley, was writing one too for the same sort of publication – and was (totally independently) coming to a (broadly) similar conclusion."(3)

"However, although we are for long stretches fellow travellers, we are at crucial points quite sharply at odds. In particular, I remain convinced that his attempt to identify internal glue for a Continental tradition is doomed from the start. And not just doomed for him but for anyone: there is none."(3)

"This book aims to reconfigure our sense of the differences that inform our philosophical culture and tries to understand why those dif- ferences have been comprehended – and indeed lived – in terms which seem to me to be profoundly distorting and inadequate. () Uncritical appeals to the schema ‘analytic or Continental’ betoken for me a failure to be alive to its (conceptual, existential, institutional) functioning and significance. I think we can do better than that and I want to try to do so from the start."(4)

Hij verwijst naar Dummett's opmerkingen over de gezamelijke basis van Frege en Husserl die laat zien dat die kloof wel meevalt. Dat is Glendinning dan weer niet helemaal met hem eens.

"I’ve also had that kind of experience, and it is an important one. But I don’t want to ignore the other kind of experience, the experience of finding two writers who are supposed to be involved in the same subject speaking from radically different positions, positions which are not merely differences within (a given understanding of) philosophy but differences which attest to a conflict over what philosophy itself is or can be; differences over what can count as a philosophical remark or as a convincing appeal to people’s attention; differences over what can be regarded as a responsible way of going on in philosophy. I have had that kind of experience too."(5)

"The idea of being (or at least appearing to be) something of a radical, a roguish outsider to the dominant establishment and the mainstream, is often considered central to the ethos of those who engage in Continental philosophy today, and it may even be what draws some people towards it."(10)

"So we have three interpretive proposals:
1.In a situation where communication has all but broken down between self-styled analytic philosophers and other voices in the contemporary philosophical culture, the thinking about the breakdown that is an appeal to the idea of a division between analytic and Continental philosophy does not so much as capture the rotten scene as it is part of it.
2.There is no such thing as the tradition of Continental philosophy
3.The idea of a distinctive Continental tradition is best thought of as an item in the conceptual armoury of analytic philosophy; it is the idea of its own Other."(13)

"So while the thinkers and movements that are usually included under the banner do comprise, as one commentator has put it, ‘a variety of more or less closely related currents of thought’, this does not, in my view, justify talk of a distinctive tradition. Indeed, so weak is the internal bonding in this group that analytic philosophers are often ‘more orless closely related’ (sometimes more, sometimes less) to them too."(16)

(21) 2. A Meeting of (Some) Minds: Phenomenology at Large

Glendinning wil laten zien dat analytische filosofie niet zo ver verwijderd is van andere filosofische stromingen / thema's dan analytische filosofen zelf graag geloven.

"... as we shall see in some detail later in this book, the fact is that what most analytic philosophers want to engage with today, the issues and questions which they find it compelling to attend to, belong to precisely the same problematic field (what Robert Pippin calls ‘the problem of modernity’) as do other movements in Western philosophy."(21)

"First, we should be clear that none of these movements are monolithic in character, with all or nearly all of the major authors associated with them sharing principles or practices which are everywhere interpreted in the same way. Second, we should be clear that these movements are not everywhere or even usually mutually exclusive.

Thus, for example, work which can fairly be regarded as making a contribution to the phenomenological movement – let’s say for starters work which has been explicitly written in its name – has been produced by authors typically and correctly included as central to the analytic movement. The clearest and most interesting cases here are J. L. Austin and Gilbert Ryle. However, if we lift the restriction and include authors with clear but only implicit methodological links and affinities to phenomenological philosophy, then we find that there are a significant number of important analytic philosophers who could be regarded as making a contribution to phenomenology though they do not reachfor the title themselves: Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Hilary Putnam, Cora Diamond and most of the analytic inheritors of Wittgenstein (who – in about 1930 – also took the title for his own work) are obvious candidates."(23)

"Thus, as we shall see, those philosophers within the analytic movement who took the title of phenomenology for themselves are also among those who (sometimes incredibly) wanted least to do with their European cousins."(24)

In feite valt in de perceptie van veel analytische filosofen 'continentale filosofie' vrijwel samen met 'fenomenologie'.

[Volgt in feite een lang pleidooi voor het serieus nemen van 'continentale' teksten. Dat ze in de 'analytische filosofie' vinden dat dat soort teksten een voorbeeld zijn van hoe je géén filosofie moet bedrijven, vind ik eerlijk gezegd niet interessant. Ik vind dat Glendinning wat te veel aandacht geeft aan kinderachtige dan wel bekrompen dan wel chauvinistische dan wel dogmatisch-eenzijdige filosofen. Je overtuigt toch nooit wanneer mensen die mentaliteit hebben. Als de teksten in de analytische traditie zo helder en logisch zijn, waarom zijn filosofen daar het ook nooit met elkaar eens - tenminste: die indruk heb ik. Zou filosofie niet gewoon ophouden te bestaan wanneer alles helder en logisch bedacht en uitgedrukt kan worden? Zelfs in exacte wetenschappen bestaat er niet zo veel overeenstemming tussen mensen als altijd gesuggereerd wordt.]

(38) 3. The Usual Suspects

[Jammer dat Glendinning zo defensief is. Hij is weer bezig zich te verontschuldigen voor de aard van de teksten van filosofen. Ik word daar een beetje moe van. En omdat er zo slecht is ingedeeld in de geschiedenis van de filosofie, wil hij niet indelen. Ook zo zinloos.]

"This is the path I will follow in this chapter: giving an overview of the authors of what we can sensibly (if not particularly happily) conceive as the primary texts of Continental philosophy, an overview of what I am calling the usual suspects. My aim in this overview is therefore exactly the opposite of the standard one of giving (even the beginnings of) an introduction to a philosophical tradition, its major thinkers and their thoughts."(39)

[Volgt een lange lijst van filosofen in volgorde van oplopend geboortejaar. Maar het zijn 'de verdachte' filosofen en dus zie je niet de namen van Hume, Frege, Wittgenstein en zo verder, omdat die voor analytische filosofen niet verdacht zijn. Daarna volgt nog een lijst van stromingen waar je de filosofen van de lijst toe zou kunnen rekenen. En tot slot een soort van kaart van hun positie in het geheel. Alles dus bewust zonder de analytische filosofie, als dat wat analytische filosofen zien als niet-analytisch en dus continentaal. Hoe zinvol is dat nu? Bevestig je nu niet net het onderscheid? En ie kaart zegt echt helemaal niets. Precies mijn punt, zegt Glendinning dan, er is geen duidelijke kaart van de continentale filosofie. Ja ja.]

De stromingen bij Glendinning na Kant:

[Als je het wat meer indeelt naar de filosofische thema's, krijg je bijvoorbeeld:


(69) 4. The Analytic Perspective on the Idea

Is er inderdaad een wijde kloof tussen analytische filosofie en continentale filosofie? G. gaat de vraag onderzoeken met teksten uit de 50-er jaren.

"In this chapter I will engage with this theme by exploring texts that belong centrally to the rotten scene we are still largely faced with, texts which have strongly affirmed the idea of (and so cultivated the reality of) a gulf-stricken culture. In doing so I hope to make it clear why it came about that Continental philosophy became the analytic tag for what must be excluded from a healthy philosophical culture."(69)

Op een conferentie in Frankrijk ('La Philosophie Analytique’ held at Royaumont, in 1958)

"The very title of Ryle’s contribution, ‘Phenomenology versus The Concept of Mind’, reflected and encouraged the British contingent’s assumption of, and perhaps desire for, confrontation, conflict, opposition and division. And some of the contents of Ryle’s talk (mis)treated the participants to some of the most extraordinary and inflammatory remarks ever (publicly) voiced on the superiority of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ or ‘English-speaking’ philosophy over its ‘Continental’ rival."(70)

"The putative impossibility of international philosophical communication was also the theme of another early gulf-seeking text: R. M. Hare’s lecture on British philosophy ‘given at a number of German centres in the summer of 1957’(74)

"Hare seems to regard the typical ‘German philosopher’ as going about his business in the wrong way because he is prepared to use words whose meaning is (at best) not clear. And it is certainly true that Heidegger is willing to do just that."(77)

"It comes down to this: Hare is really only happy reading work by an other who is, fundamentally, one of his own colleagues (himself)."(78)

"... classic articulation in Geoffrey Warnock’s assessment of the development of English philosophy since 1900. Published in 1958, Warnock’s book appeared at a time when, as we are beginning to see, those who adhered to the name of analytic philosophy were passionately affected by the idea of its difference to other work going on in the subject in Europe."(79)

"In this irreducibly double voice Warnock declares that the philosophical movement of Idealism in Britain was never really British anyway. British philosophy was, he suggests, not long occupied with such ‘strange things’ before it freed itself from what the Idealists had called ‘the main stream of European thought’ and returned to what Warnock called ‘the main stream of British thought’."(81)

(91) 5. The Continental Perspective on the Idea

Ook engelstalige filosofen die serieus les gingen geven over "continentale filosofie" versterkten helaas de indruk dat er sprake is van een zinvol etiket.

"In what follows I will show why attempts from those who appropriated the title for themselves to defend the idea that there really is a distinctive philosophical tradition in view here do not stand up to critical scrutiny."(93)

"The first I will look at is by John McCumber, the second by Robert Pippin. Both accounts are significant contributions to our understanding of the history of recent philosophy and the fact that I think they are both ultimately unsatisfactory with regard to the present issue does not mean that I do not think they have much more to offer than I deal with here. As I say, both happily accept that there is no methodological or thematic unity to the primary works of Continental philosophy. However, McCumber may be thought to undermine my claims about why it stands apart from the analytic movement, and Pippin may be thought to undermine my claims about why nothing holds it together from within. Either way, they pose a serious challenge to the views I am defending."(97)

"McCumber’s central thesis is that the dominance of analytic philosophy in America is explained, at least in part, by the fact that it offered a way philosophy could be pursued which would conform to how ‘Joe McCarthy’s academic henchmen would have wanted it to be’. The principal henchman here is one Raymond B. Allan, President of the University of Washington during the early 1950s, a man who became the ‘foremost articulator of academic McCarthyism’. Allan made it clear that he wanted professional philosophy to purge itself of any ‘un-American’ elements, he wanted it to adhere to strict norms of ‘impartiality, objectivity and determination to seek truth’, norms which American universities have at their heart and which clandestine activity by communists and other radicals supposedly threatened. McCumber’s claim is that this external pressure on academic philosophy paved the way for the success of analytic philosophy’s efforts to focus on ‘problems’ and severely to limit philosophy’s traditional andmore ambitious emphasis on achieving a ‘critical, reflective self-understanding’. A dark secret of American philosophy then comes into view: the rise to dominance of analytic philosophy in the 1950s was not only simultaneous with the McCarthy era but profoundly ‘fostered’ by it, ‘decisively shaped’ by it. This massively ‘skewed the development’ of philosophy, giving an ‘undeserved dominance’ to a distinctively unreflective way of doing philosophy, a dominance that allowed it to define philosophy in terms of itself and thus to give rise to Continental philosophy as its residual ‘motley play of accidents’."(98)

Glendinnming vindt dat wat eenzijdig als verklaring:

"It is far more plausible to suppose that the mainsprings of the movement of analytic philosophy in America lie with two factors external to it, with two European imports: first, with the emigration from Nazi Germany of certain key logicians and scientific philosophers, and second, with what McCumber acknowledges as the powerful emergence of analytic philosophy in Britain where, he accepts, the movement ‘first arose’. It is the influence of academic philosophers of the highest calibre, thinkers of the stature of Carnap and Reichenbach, Ryle and Austin, whose arrival provided the impetus to the growth of analytic philosophy in America. And that is at least in part a philosophical origin in an uncontroversial sense. As McCumber himself acknowledges, for example, ‘Carnap’s article [‘Truth and Confirmation’] played a key rolein the defeat of pragmatism and the subsequent triumph of analytic philosophy’. And, in case it needs remarking, ‘Carnap was no McCarthy’. McCumber is no doubt right to think that the analytic–Continental split really opens up in the 1950s but to claim it is ‘a relict of the McCarthy era’ seems to me to pass over far too quickly philosophical forces internal to the movement of analytic philosophy."(99)

"... Pippin’s history of recent Western philosophy poses a significant challenge to my claim that nothing holds Continental philosophy together from the inside. For Pippin in his book Modernism as a Philosophical Problem clearly identifies a genuinely internal trajectory of much post-Kantian philosophy from Continental Europe. It thus stands, in my view, as a particularly plausible candidate for giving a strictly philosophical specification of what might be distinctive about what we can identify as the primary works of Continental philosophy from the inside. I will argue, however, that it too fails to capture what it intends to capture, viz. a specifically Continental tradition in contrast to the analytic tradition. (102)

"Of course, the initial ‘crude’ distinction was always too crude. But, and finally, isn’t there nevertheless something to that idea? Isn’t there something to the idea of an important division within Western culture between those who do and those who do not experience modernity as a problem? I believe there is. However, the distinction is not, I would suggest, one between analytic and so-called Continental philosophers. Rather, it is a distinction between those who attempt to come reflectively to terms with our supposedly modern condition and those who accept it without more ado. It is, I want to say, not a division within philosophy but a distinction between a philosophical and a non-philosophical relation to modernity."(109)

(115) 6. The (B)end of the Idea

"John McCumber claims that there has been no success in construing the ‘split’ between analytic and Continental philosophy ‘in philosophical terms’. 1 In this book I have attempted to succeed where others have failed. However, I have not tried to do so by showing ‘how, after all, the analytic/Continental distinction [can] be drawn’ 2 but, rather, by showing why, after all, it cannot. Yet so pervasive is the de facto distinction, so serious the breakdown in communication, that we find it hard to resist the idea that there must be something to the distinction."(115)

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