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Friday, 24 July 2015

Beyond pariochialism in philosophy

A book by Jeffrey Bell, Andrew Cutrofello and Paul Livingston calls for what they call for what they call pluralistic philosophy - meaning what goes beyond the analytic-continental divide. I think it is high time to attempt (again) at breaking this divide. I guess since the 90s where Rortyans were around making connections between Sellars and Derrida or Heidegger and Davidson the divide has gone stronger and the two traditions more enclosed in themselves. I can see nothing to be lost in blurring the division line. Plus, there is much to be gained especially because a lot of philosophy lies precisely in the attempts to translate things from one tradition to another. Cosmopolitanism is a good idea - at least when it comes to thought.

However, analytic and continental traditions seem now well split. Tradition is the world I use for lack of a better one - in fact, there are many traditions within each of the two. I myself try always to ignore the divide - and more often than not to little avail. I guess the current state of philosophy - that I reckon dates from somewhere between the 30s and the 40s where these two current great traditions stopped being like competing schools and became like different cultures or different languages - is of extreme parochialism. The comparison I made now in conversation with my housemates is this: imagine a group that would accept no foreign words in their communication, and refuse to be persuaded that there is something a foreign word could express that would be impossible or very hard to express in the native tongue. Such behavior would spell acute parochialism, they said. I think this is the situation among most groups of both analytical and continental philosophers. There is no room for anybody from the other camp to be mentioned, let alone considered, analyzed, thought through. It is as if nothing could be taken on board if it comes from the other side of the fence. For, I suppose, both sides reckon they've got everything they need and are fine thinking the way they are. No time or patience from anything that comes from beyond the pale. It does sound parochial.

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