The Idea of Continental Philosophy: A Philosophical Chronicle

The Idea of Continental Philosophy: A Philosophical Chronicle

The Idea of Continental Philosophy: A Philosophical Chronicle

The Idea of Continental Philosophy: A Philosophical Chronicle

Synopsis

The idea of Continental Philosophy has never been properly explained in philosophical terms. In this short and engaging book Simon Glendinning attempts finally to succeed where others have failed - although not by giving an account of its internal unity but by showing instead why no such account can be given. Providing a clear picture of the current state of the contemporary philosophical culture Glendinning traces the origins and development of the idea of a distinctive Continental tradition, critiquing current attempts to survey the field of contemporary philosophy.

Excerpt

A Wide-Angled View

In the last chapter I proposed that the thinking about the breakdowns in communication within the contemporary philosophical culture that appeals to the idea of a division between the traditions of analytic and Continental philosophy is part of and does not stand apart from the rotten scene it intends to capture. The plausibility of this proposal would be massively increased if I could demonstrate the independent plausibility of a further proposal: namely, that the very idea of a distinctive Continental tradition in philosophy is confused and distorting. It is a basic aim of this book to substantiate that. In doing so I do not intend to deny that the philosophical movements that are collectively grouped together under the 'Continental' title comprise 'a variety of more or less closely related currents of thought'. However, what I do reject is the idea that what we have in view here can be satisfactorily understood as a philosophical tradition or traditions standing in a crucial contrast to the analytic tradition. Yes, the currents of thought at issue are more or less closely related, but that is because what is in view here is a great swathe of the enigmatic diversity that currently comprises the contested subject that is called 'philosophy', not because it comprises a special subset of that subject that distinctively belongs together in contrast to the analytic tradition. In the last chapter I used a text by Donald Gillies to illustrate an operational rather than thematic interest in the idea of a division of traditions. In this chapter I want to turn things round and reflect on how things can look if we take a view of the philosophical culture in which the prism of the analytic/Continental idea is the object of investigation rather than the matter of course resource for (meta)philosophising. I will call this the wide-angled view. Taking this view will not establish the problematic character of the idea of Continental philosophy. But . . .

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