Friday, August 3, 2012

Synthetic Philosophers

In this post, I will offer a manifesto of procedural thinking. This is extremely "off the cuff" so to speak, and I do not apologize for its presentation.

At its core, philosophy is an awareness of the contingency of existence. Many facets of existence are opened up, explored and mined and then synthesized together in hopes of adding new insight to new or old concerns. These concerns may be practically resounding in the old Deweyan adage "felt difficulties" of the "problem of men" or the more erudite and theoretical. For instance, I am interested in the old proposals of ordinary language philosophy and the naive ontologies assumed in metaethics. While some might find this work "un-practical" and therefore not concerned with immediate practical ends, certainly the fallout of these ontologies will impact how we conceive of existence later on, and so I hold out on some theoretical concerns for the promise of their pragmatic relevance. Opening up and creating spaces for articulation, I draw both from history and problems, old and new. I do not feel situated on any line.

Years ago, I started this blog with the want to build bridges, and it was a creative outlet to express my more creative side. I conceived of philosophy very much as a chasm, a gulf between analytic and Continental camps completely ignorant of the radical exclusion often felt by my Americanist colleagues. At first, this seemed plausible and even anecdotally confirmed. However, even now as I proceed on the job market, I am aware of how strange the term Continental philosophy is. Now, the Southern Journal of Philosophy has commissioned a volume with very good essays on the relation between Continental philosophy, analytic philosophy and the prospects for the future. In Iain Thomson's contribution, he calls for an end to both Continental and analytic philosophy. "The future in other words, belongs neither to the traditional Continentals nor analytics but, instead, to the synthetic philosophers."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I very much agree with you that helpful material can be mined from every philosophical tradition, because every philosophical situation represents a response to certain conditions that it is trying to address in some way. The intellectual task is that of separating out the helpful from the unhelpful.

I also agree with you about the need to bridge the analytic - continental divide, and glad the Southern Journal of Philosophy is tackling it. I have been trying to maintain equidistance between them, and draw on both, in the Middle Way Philosophy I have been developing for 15 years now, but the price of chasm-bridging is often academic exclusion.
Robert M. Ellis