Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thinking within the analytic/continental divide

I have been reading Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy, but have been having some incidental thoughts related to the origins of both the analytic and continental traditions in contemporary philosophy. To my own taste, I find the analytic tradition very appealing in its rigour, as well as its devotion to truth and logical analysis - the likes of a John Haldane or GEM Anscombe remain highly appealing. On the other hand, I simultaneously find a great deal of interesting material within Heidegger and the possibility of reviving ancient and medieval metaphysical questions within the continental phenomenological bent of thought. To my own mind, I'm afraid I don't fall anywhere within these neat categories (nor, I suppose, SHOULD a person interested in essentially ancient and medieval philosophy of the Thomist variety). I think the problem which led to this divide needs to be analyzed in a particular sense: the anti-metaphysical strain of thinking on both sides of the contemporary divide has been what kept each side from talking past each other for the most part of the 20th century. What is necessary, in my humble opinion, is a reform and revival of metaphysics. But how to do this...therein lies the rub.

It brings to mind a quote from Emerson I just read elsewhere on the Internet: "Who in Concord cares for the first philosophy in a book? The woman whose child is to be suckled? The man at Nine-acre-Corner who is to cart sixty loads of gravel on his meadow? the stageman? the gunsmith? Oh, no! Who then?"

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