Mike Huemer on the Shortcomings of Both Analytic and Continental Philosophy
Posted on 12/29/2019
Michael Huemer, philosopher at UC Boulder, recently published two entries at his blog on the shortcomings of both analytic and continental philosophy. Near the end of the one on analytic philosophy, he says:
Academic philosophers are so used to defining issues in this way (to create jobs for conceptual analysts, so to speak) that, if you try to discuss a normal point, philosophers will often misunderstand you, because they will try to get you to be making some ‘conceptual point’ that can be verified or refuted by analysis, deduction, and hypothetical examples.
In the middle of the post on continental philosophy, he says:
The style is largely the opposite of that of analytic phil. Continental writers are generally much less clear about what they’re saying than the analytic philosophers. They won’t, e.g., explicitly define their terms before proceeding. They use more metaphors without any literal explanation, and they use more idiosyncratic, abstract jargon.
When they advance an idea, they sort of give arguments for it, but it’s hard to isolate specific premises and steps of reasoning. A continental author would never tell you that he has three premises in his argument, and then write them down as statements (1), (2), (3) (as analytic philosophers often do). You also would find a lot less effort to directly address objections or confront alternative theories. They say things that are supposed to lead you along a line of thought. It’s just that at the end, it’s very hard to answer questions like “How many premises were there?”, “What was the 2nd premise?”, and “What was the first objection?”
Both posts are worth reading in full, as is just about anything he writes.