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37293588 Rorty Richard Analytic Philosophy and Narrative

37293588 Rorty Richard Analytic Philosophy and Narrative

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Published by: majidheidari on May 28, 2012
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 ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND NARRATIVEPHILOSOPHY1. Two kinds of philosophyI said in last week’s lecture that philosophy had pretty muchdrifted off the radar screens of most intellectuals, and that this was notnecessarily an occasion for regret. But there are still interesting debatesgoing on among philosophy professors. These debates that tie in withthe Plato-Nietzsche opposition I described in my first lecture, and theiroutcome will determine the future of philosophy as an academicdiscipline. One of these is about whether philosophy can be studiedindependently of the history of ideas. This debate usually takes place inthe course of discussion of the split between “analytic” and “non-analytic” philosophy.The second of these debates is going on within the sub-area of analytic philosophy known as “philosophy of mind and language”. Thisis between the atomists, who think that philosophy can profitably allyitself with cognitive science, and the holists, who do not. In this lecture I1
will briefly review both of these debates. Then I will try to show therelevance of both to the question of whether or not to retain what I lastweek called “the jigsaw puzzle view of things”.When one attempts to describe what is going on in the worlds’philosophy departments these days, the first distinction to draw isbetween moral, social and political philosophy on the one hand, andphilosophy of mind and language on the other. Those who work in theformer area do not have much to say to those working in the latter, andconversely. Philosophy professors who write on ethics and politicsusually read more books by professors of political science and of  jurisprudence than books by fellow philosophers who discuss therelation between the mind and the body, or that between language andreality. That both are members of the same department is more anaccident of institutional history than a result of shared interests.The difference between these two broad areas of concern ishighlighted by the fact that the split between “analytic” philosophy and“non-analytic” philosophy (the kind sometimes called “Continental”)has little relevance to books about morals and politics. Those labels arelargely irrelevant to such figures as John Rawls, Juergen Habermas,Noberto Bobbio, Chantal Mouffe, Isaiah Berlin, and Cornelius2
Castoriadis. All these thinkers are concerned with the same questions asare non-philosophers like Michael Walzer, Richard Posner, MichaelIgnatieff, and Ulrich Beck—questions about how we might alter oursocial and political institutions so as better to combine freedom withorder and justice.Once we bracket off moral and political philosophy, however, theanalytic vs. Continental split becomes salient. I think of this split asbetween the philosophers who are inclined to agree with Frank Ramseythat Bertrand Russell’s theory of descriptions is a paradigm of philosophy and those who would argue that nothing Russell didcompares in importance with Hegel’s
The Phenomenology of Spirit
orwith Heidegger’s
 Letter on Humanism
. It is a division betweenphilosophers who think that you can do first-rate philosophy withoutknowing much intellectual history and those who think that philosophyis at its best when it takes the form of a dramatic narrative, a narrativeending with the words “Thus far has the world-spirit advanced.”Someone who thinks of herself as an analytic philosopher of mindand language will almost certainly be familiar with, and will probablyhave views about, Russell’s theory. But she may never have read, andmay have little ambition to read, either Hegel or Heidegger. Yet if you3

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