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This is a follow-up to the question "What is the difference between analytical and continental philosophy?". Even if the distinction should be retired, it still gets used, and those of us outside the profession don't have a sense of what the terms mean. It would still be useful to give us a sense of what the (stereotyped, misleading) distinction is supposed to be.

What is the flavor of the rhetorical differences between the two? Do the two address different sorts of question? (This is the characterization I've gotten from philosopher friends: continental figures make up grand sweeping theories about everything, whereas analytic figures try to answer one small question at a time, more like the method of contemporary science.) Who are some of the major figures claimed by either side?

October 11, 2005

Response from Jyl Gentzler on October 15, 2005
Like others, I believe that this popular dichotomy is in many ways more pernicious than helpful. Nonetheless, it might be helpful to make the following observations. The Western philosophical tradition has its roots in Ancient Greece. After the European rediscovery of Aristotle during the Crusades, this tradition continued in Europe and eventually in the United States and Europe's other former colonies. In the early twentieth century, this tradition broke into two distinct styles of approaching philosophical questions: the so-called Analytic or Anglo-American tradition (influenced by philosophers Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Moore, Carnap, and Quine, some of whom, as has already been observed, are neither Anglo nor American) and the so-called Continental tradition that continued in continental Europe (whose foundational figure is the 19th century German philosopher Hegel, and which also includes such philosophers as Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre).


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