What Is “Continental Philosophy”?

I am not very pleased at the course of the discussion. I saw a link to Justin’s post, which seemed to me to be asking for clarifications, and so I gave what explanations I could. Suddenly I am being told that I know nothing, and that what I said does not apply to 19th Century German idealism (which I doubt) or to American Continental Philosophy (which I know nothing about, as I have been living in France for the last 34 years). I don’t much like American academics lecturing me about stuff they don’t know first hand, as if I were their student, and a pretty bad one at that. I am sad that next to nothing was said about how my text helps people to understand what Zizek is doing, and no positive suggestions were made to improve the list, though I did ironically steal Protevi’s “nominalism”, as I had been thinking of adding “anti-essentialism” for a long time. My list is actually quite pedagogical, and it does synthesise lots of real life experiences that I have had in France, like the story of the French artist for deconstructing the question, and noticing how even 16 year olds in my classes use “problematic” quite naturally. But to tell it all in the form of such stories would have multiplied its length by 10 and weakened its transversality. On my own blog people liked it and found it helpful, and on twitter and facebook too. But I think that it is mainly people who like recent French post-structuralism-and-after who read my blog. Not Justin’s audience it would seem, at least for this post.

Daily Nous

In the comments to the last heap of links, dmf points to a post on Terence Blake’s blog, Agent Swarm, entitled “16 Traits of Continental Philosophy.” It’s a précis of a series of earlier posts defending the approach of Slavoj Žižek against critiques by Noam Chomsky. I think something like this list would be useful for overcoming certain philosophical prejudices, but I must admit I do not know enough to know whether it is accurate or comprehensive, and like many other analytically trained philosophers, I need help with phrases like: “deconstructing the question already includes constructing the subjacent problematic of the view one is responding to.” Those in the know, take a look and help us out.

UPDATE: Folks, let’s try to keep the conversation respectful and avoid assuming more about Blake’s views of Continental philosophy than is available to us at the linked post or elsewhere on his blog or in his comments…

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