Over at Object-Oriented Philosophy Graham has an interesting post up discussing the Analytic/Continental divide. As Graham writes,
Most of what gets said about the analytic-continental divide is, in my opinion, completely wrong. Two major mistakes are as follows:
(a) To deny that the difference exists, and end up replacing it with a difference between high-quality and low-quality philosophers, with all the supposed high-quality people found in what we could call the analytic camp. This is roughly the tactic of Brian Leiter, who first tells us that all the best continental philosophy is being done in high-ranked departments (basically, analytically trained people writing about Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger) and then denies that such a thing as analytic philosophy even exists. “You cannot attack the Empire. The Empire does not exist.”
(B) Premature declarations of the end of the gap. Certainly, more communication would be desirable, but I don’t think it should take the form of pretending that we’re all one big happy family of philosophers. We’re not. In order to be fruitful, the communication should be highly targeted and based on limited areas of overlapping concerns and methods.
Quite right. To this I would add that I think the analytic/continental divide is not simply about different styles of philosophy, methodologies, canons, or ideas, but is also about power. In other words, I think any serious discussion about the analytic/continental divide has to, in addition to the conceptual and philosophical, approach this divide sociologically. When I evoke power I have in mind Latour’s network assemblages, Foucault’s systems of micropower, Bourdieu’s systems of symbolic and material power, and, of course, Marx. Lee Braver’s A Thing of This World is a magnificent book, but the issue here isn’t simply one of two camps speaking different languages, but is also about how institutions, presses, journals, rankings, conferences, and hiring practices are organized. These are networks of power that function in such a way as to insure the dominance of certain epistemes and the obscurity of others. In my view, the real issue of overcoming the analytic/continental divide consists not in creating a conceptual bridge between different styles of philosophy, but in addressing these very real material assemblages and the inequities they engender. When an analytic lambasts continentalists or continental institutions, he is not simply attacking ideas, but jobs, opportunity, and the ability for people to live. He’s quite literally vying for the extinction of these other orientations of thought.