Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Smith, Barry. "What's Wrong with Contemporary Philosophy?" TOPOI 25.1-2 (2006): 63-67.
Philosophy in the West now divides into three parts – Analytic Philosophy, Continental Philosophy and History of Philosophy. Analytic Philosophy (AP), although it comes in many varieties, has four striking properties. First, it is cultivated with every appearance of theoretical rigour. Second, its practitioners do not, by and large, believe that philosophy is or can be a science, i.e., they do not believe that it can add to the stock of positive human knowledge. Third, the philosophers who until very recently were the most influential models in the pursuit of philosophy as a theoretical enterprise – Chisholm, Davidson, Armstrong, Putnam, Kripke, Searle… – have no obvious successors. Finally, AP has succeeded in the institutional task of turning out increasing numbers of highly trained, articulate and intelligent young philosophers. Each of these properties reflects a relatively uncontroversial empirical claim. Continental Philosophy (CP) comes in almost as many varieties as does AP but is always decidedly anti-theoretical. This is particularly true of those varieties which sport the name “Theory”, but it holds in general of all those CP philosophical traditions in which political goals are more or less preeminent. The heroes of CP – Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida – also belong to the past and they, too, have no obvious successors. The History of Philosophy (HP) is pursued by both analytic philosophers and their Continental consoeurs. In Continental Europe – with the exception of Scandinavia and Poland – philosophy is, in large measure, just the history of philosophy. In the Anglosaxophone world most philosophers are not historians of philosophy. The almost total identification of philosophy with its history in Continental Europe reflects massive scepticism about any theoretical ambitions on the part of philosophy. These claims are also uncontroversial, as an examination of the publications of philosophers in Continental Europe easily shows. . . . Read the rest here: http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/WhatsWrong.pdf. (Thanks to Ed Brandon for the link.)