John Protevi has launched an interesting initiative, a discussion group on: “Beyond the Continental / Analytic Divide.” This is surely a very worthwhile discussion to have provided that it can get out of the institutional blinkers that are in a large part responsible for maintaining this division.
In vulgar terms, philosophy is a job, and much philosophy on the blogosphere is glorified shop-talk: my job, my colleagues and advisors and referees, how I mark, how to publish, pressure groups and lobbies, my school of thought is better than your school. It’s like Al Gore said about smoking and cancer or climate change:
it’s very hard to get somebody whose livelihood depends on certain ideas accept the validity of ideas that would put their pay-check in question.
This is why OOO had such an appeal at the beginning, as it promised to highly increase the proportion of concept-talk to shop-talk. Unfortunately one result of its success is that its marketing model has turned more to book publishing, and the blogs have degenerated into ads for their books and conferences, and the concept-level and quota (despite what one may think of the actual concepts) have gone down.
So the initiative is good, but unfortunately the discussion is to take place on the APA website. This is an amusing procedure: inclusion by exclusion. The link given leads to a divisive site where I would have to declare my educative level and institutional status, and pay for the honour of talking with inclusive “professionals of the profession”.
Is philosophy to continue to be limited to academic specialisation or is it possible to make it something more democratic?
I have lived through empirically the non-pertinence of such a divide to my own training. I was one of the very few students allowed a double enrolment in philosophy when my department split into two: a continental dept and an analytic one. Also as someone doing research on Feyerabend, who in my opinion straddles the divide, I chose to move from analytic Australia to continental France.
Lyotard was enthusiastic about Feyerabend when I discussed it with him. I also attended a seminar on Nomad Thought by the Scottish poet Kenneth White, who discussed Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard and many other pluralist thinkers. White told me that my work on Feyerabend was my “passport” for being accepted in the seminar (I was not enrolled). So he saw no divide.