What is continental philosophy?

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5 (3):347 – 363 (1997)
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This paper attempts to provide an account of what is philosophically distinctive about what has come to be known as 'Continental philosophy'. In the early parts of the paper I give a historical and cultural analysis of the emergence of Continental philosophy and consider objections to the latter and some stereotypical representations of the analytic-Continental divide. In the philosophically more substantial part of the paper, I seek to redraw the distinction between analytic and Continental philosophy by focusing on a number of themes: (i) the centrality of tradition and history for Continental philosophy and the way this affects philosophical practices of argumentation and interpretation, (ii) the way in which the concept of Continental philosophy emerges out of the German idealist reception of the Kantian critique of metaphysics and the significant way this is continued in Nietzsche with his concept of nihilism, (iii) the centrality of the concepts of critique, emancipation and praxis for the Continental tradition, (iv) the importance of the theme of crisis that runs through the Continental tradition, (v) an explanation and justification of the pervasive anti-scientism of the Continental tradition. I conclude by explaining and criticizing the professionalization of philosophy that has produced the analytic-Continental divide, insofar as this divide disguises a deeper possible debate about the identity of philosophy itself outside of its professional confines.



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Simon Critchley
The New School

References found in this work

Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship.Nicholas Griffin - 1991 - Oxford, GB: Clarendon Press.
Empiricism and Sociology.O. Neurath, Marie Neurath & Robert S. Cohen - 1974 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25 (4):343-352.
Bertrand Russell and the Origins of Analytical Philosophy.Ray Monk & Anthony Palmer - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (194):135-137.
Phenomenology of Spirit.A. V. Miller (ed.) - 1977 - Oup Usa.

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