Excerpt #1


Continental Philosophy, def.: French people with difficult-to-pronounce names trying to piss me off by being as unclear and confusing as possible.

(From “The Commonsense Man’s Dictionary of Analytic Philosophy”)


11 Responses to “Excerpt #1”

  1. Zakk Says:

    I’m sorry to hear you feel this way.I am currently immersed in Derrida’s Of Grammatology and, well, I love it.What makes the Continentals unclear to you?

  2. David Says:

    Dude, can I borrow that book?!

  3. MG Says:

    Zakk–My impression is that Continental philosophy does tend to be rather unclear, generally to a fault. The terminology they use is not very well-defined most of the time. Think of phrases like “the other”, “powerstructures”, “Dasein”, “Beingnness”, etc. They also tend to focus on talking about their own attempts to live with reality, instead of trying to actually figure out what there is in reality. Their philosophy is more like literature and poetry than mathematics or science.I actually am interested in continental phil, especialy postmodernism, because of its talk about authority. But I still think their stuff would be a lot better if they at least tried to be clear on what they’re saying.David–Hate to burst your bubble but that book isn’t real; I made it up for the joke. 😦

  4. Alexander Says:

    haha, that is funny that you made that up. Sorry “Zakk” I would have to agree with Micheal, the unclearness of Continental philosophy seems pretty obvious, but I thought that the vagueness of it was the very thing that is boasts of. It seems that when me and Micheal make claims of Cont., it should come off the a Cont. philosopher as a compliment. Consider the wisdom of Heideger:”Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.”This seems to be the mentality that pervades Cont., and frankly I don’t find an enterprise that operates off such a maxim as useful for finding out truth, though it may have other uses. Consider also this from Mr. H:”Thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.”

  5. Alexander Says:

    By the way, MG, I define “subjective exprience” in the last blog you commented on in the general, run-of-the-mill sense of being sentient, seeing particular qualia, feeling emotion. That is one thing that definitely inclines me to believe in a God . . . .

  6. Zakk Says:

    Well…After deciphering the rather unclear comment “Alexander” made, I thought I’d put my two cents in again.I think “MG” (putting people’s names in quotation marks is fun!) is right to say that continental philosophy “is more like literature and poetry than mathematics or science.” That, in my opinion, is one of its strengths. To someone like me who normally operates in a more literary mode – to someone who thinks that math is speculative at best, and that empirical science is pretty much bupkis – the literary method used by continentals is far more accessible. (I do not say better, though it may be a more useful tool than analytic philosophy for the exploration of certain concepts.)Anyways – unless you want to claim and show that math and science, as the methods most analogous to analytic philosophy, are the only reliable tools one can use to find truth, I think that the ridicule of continental philosophy you have offered is unreasonable.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Philosophy describes the world of the human – science describes the world of matter. Something else has arisen in recent times that is not philosophy. It is, rather, a crude linguistic psychology that attempts to bridge these two worlds.This is an ‘excerpt’ from my second to latest blog.The “something else” is analytic philosophy.For an explanation of the term Dasein, please see my latest post.What do you mean by ‘being clear’? Common language is not more clear simply because it is easier to read. Analytic philosophers barely transcend the use of common language. To do philosophy after Kant, one needs to invent a new language.- Jackie

  8. Alexander Says:

    “Zakk” I am curious, why do you believe math is speculative, becuase of meta-mathematical doubt like Godel’s theorm, or some other reason? As far as science, though I believe that it is probabalistic and less knowlabe than math and Logic, why is it qualitified as “bupkis”? After all, I am presuming that you are using technology in order to write these posts right now, and from your use of the word “bupkis” it sounds you hold science as a flavor of quakery or something. But correct me if I am misintrepreting that. Lastly, why did you think my post was unclear? The main purpose of the post was to let a member of continental philosophy speak for himself, and I think mr. H made it quite clear that clarity was anathema to his philosphic plight. I do believe there are instances where unclarity have their advantages, because I bleive at least part of reality is indescrible and that unclear language can be emotionally useful, but I beleive that alot of topic within annaltyic philosphy are describle, even if some of the describability of some topic be can only know on probability, and I think that inasmuch as annalytic philosphy deals with all those topic, it is not only useful, but also true.

  9. MG Says:

    Jackie–You do realize that this post was mainly a joke, and that despite what I consider to be its problems, I have some respect and interest in Continental Philosophy?

  10. Jackie Says:

    Allow me to apologize again =P My fear is that what you have problems with is the very thing that is most important about ‘continental philosophy’. “To a fault” implies that some text would have been better written in another way. The point is subversion, the point is revaluation. Kant and Hegel are both immensely difficult to read, but because we are familiar with their ideas as they have been passed down through us by commentators, we imagine that they could have been better writers. Rather, originality implies strangeness and newness – it is only a matter of interpretation whether one calls this ‘lack of clarity’ or ‘innovation’.In the Derrida-Searle debate, Derrida consistently seems to me the most clear about what he is saying. Searle cannot even constrain his narrative without slipping into apparent aporias – Derrida plays with this in Limited INC. Searle’s response is almost impossible to overcome – “we just know english”, implying that, at bottom, one knows what one means by “analytic statement” even if one can find outlying (marginal) examples (as in Quine’s Two Dogmas of Empiricism). It is a very powerful response….. I won’t go any more into the debate, but it is excellent reading.Alexander – I think you often use very good examples, but the point about philosophy is that it is not empirical at all. At least not after Kant, but I don’t know many philosophers who have not inherited Kant in some way (or have already established a different, though still non-empirical metaphysics). I think zakk meant to say that science is bumpkins insofar as it helps us do philosophy. This reminds me of your response to my “Skeptic’s Manifesto”. You cited the usefulness of science, but did not address what my intention was. Science is very good and very useful. I love science and math for what they have done. But they do nothing to advance our knowledge of the human world and the reality that presents itself to humans. That is Kant’s Copernican turn…

  11. Jackie Says:

    For Alexander, (who has obviously not been reading my blog), taken from the post “A Kantian Interlude”:Unfortunately, we live in an age where not only is the whole text, the whole unread text, taken for granted, but even the admirable intentions stated in Kant’s small 40 page preface (both 1st and 2nd editions) go widely unaccounted for and ignored. The internet in general (sites such as wikipedia in specific) and a culture well acclimated to mass communication has generated people who seem thoroughly unafraid of hearsay. Direct quotations often fare no better because they are easily fitted to the context of someone’s personal intentions rather than with the author’s. Though I don’t think there is anything wrong with quoting for a meaning that the original author may have never thought of because of his historical era, we must refrain from haphazardly drawing a phrase out of a context which we have no understanding nor familiarity with, even to the degree that we would quote the author as being in favour of something she or he would likely fervently reject (or vice versa).

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