Concerning Philosophy t in the , UnitedStates




A nation can count itself lucky to have several thou and relatively leisured and relatively uuspccialized iruellecruals 1\110 arc 'XCCp1ionallv good al putting Luge1her argtl rnents ami pulling them aparqRort " 19R2, pp. ~~Ofn,

Tm ~py nation is rh United States, and t hes excellent intcllc .tuals are its philosophers. III the way of simple guiding point, I will first r tra the anrece 1 nts and consequ nces of a historically decisive turning-point in the relations between philosophy and the national que tion. Th thou anrls of int II ctuals in question indeed began to make their country happy during the very decade when the putniks were making ir unhappy. 1 will then sugge l that the 'iP rtcr haunting American philo ophical di our today is the pi a, [The s ns of the original term plaidoyer is strictly legal: a court pica. an argument.] s not only lime but also space arc at i 'sue in all f this. it wil I I rove useful to locat th "continental rift " whit h separates analytic method from phenomenological method ac ording to the ommon opinion in th United tales. Lastl ., one will have to ask if, as i some-rim . claimed, a COlW rsation is being engaged in today bctw en te hnicians of argumeuts and phenom nologist of "the thing them p]" s." Whr rever LtS real chances might be, the urgen y of thi dialogue will only be
>I< This article first appeared in Le temps de la rf/ie,\'WtJ 6 (I ~)H!i): 3U:3-1:l1, an devoted to "The Past and II~ Fuun e' Essays nil Tradition and Teaching." I~Mlt·



Vol. 61, No.1







- ~-produced

comprehensible once the philosophical bipolarity national intellectual history has been grasped.


The Eclipse of AtJ1,ican Philosophy
just like c.urtm-e in general. took on increasingly mottled tones ]11 the I I 'ted States depending on rhewavcs of immigration. That i to say that few doctrines or convictions exist in the ew World which were not traced out UPOIl those of the Old World. But it is one thing to speak of philosophy in America and another to speak of American philosophy. The latter is not over a hundred years old. It was born in New England after the Civil War. Thus, without entirely sacrificing polychromia to monochromia, it presents a markedly predominant color: the optimistic green of Pragmatism. '1 he first text in the lineage, the essay of Charles Sanders Peirce entitled "How to Clarify Our Ideas" (1878), bears witness to this. The trial of clarification that it advocated consisted indeed ill the application of ideas, namely. in their practical efficaciousness. For Peirce, the meaning of a concept comes from the effective linguistic communication that it brillgs about. for his successors WiHiamJames and John Dewey, this trial meant that a concept had to show its efficaciousness in the sear h for a mural or political consensus. William James' maxim is well known: "Truth is whal works." This quintessentially American philosophy-pragmatism, now termed classical-was moved by an interest which was as passionate as it was particular: the interest in the defense and reform of republican institutions. Just as the genesis of American Republicanism is sui gl'nerL~, the theories of knowledge, language. scienc , and action to which it gave rise are so as well, even if Peirce admitted his debt to Kant, James to Bergson, and Dewey to Hegel. The fecundity of Pragmatism was such that more metaphysical thinkers. such as Josiah Royce and Alfred North Wh]tehead, remained marginal figures despite. or perhaps due to, their speculative Philosophy,




thrust. The gn~at educator of the nited States, th spokes mall of what the' is called the demo ratic proce ,the optimistic r form 1 (l)f institutions who repeated [hat one "learns by loiu ," remain' John D we)'. F~" iniellectus Is would cl nv hi' paten lit) today. He was the last representative of the gollen age of American philosophy. He died in 1952. To understand th [urn that "vas embarked UpOJl then, one should remember rwo other .urrcnts which gradually spread in philosophy departments. One, originating in Cambridge, settled in America in th thirties, and the other, originatillg in Vienna and passing through O. ford. reached America aft r the war. The English like to call Bertrand Russell their Voltaire by reason of his stand on r ligion, morals. education, and war, But if Russell, together with hi' .arnbridge 011 agu . gay a new orientation to Anglo-Saxon philosophy, it was lhrollgh what he called his analyri method. It is not easy to discern precisely what he meant rbereby, This method allows one to answer, so he said. the question, "What are the constitutive elements of reality or of some of its aspects?" The analysis bears on propositions and aims at exact definitions, whether they be real or cont xtual. Thus. the real d finition of time is thai it is made up of in rants. and its contextual definiriou is that "given an event x, c n y event entirely subscq uent to an event which is a contemporary of.\. is entirely subsequent to an event 'oil. hich is initially a contemporary of x.' In the broadest sense, analysis consists in dissolving the given unit), of the world into its elements by examining the propositions of ordinary language which "make sense." As the ritcrion of meaning is immediate e perience and. therefore. ingular, in Russell at least. the tradition of Ockham and Hobl " nominalism finds it elf revived by this method. George Edward Moore, a colleague of Russell, rc commended the new linguistic manner of English mpiricisi and nominalist usage as mani fest t be inherent .larity of ancient common sense. This affinity with the medieval and modern ancestors doubtless explains why. on the other side of th Channel as well as of the




Atlantic, terms such as "analysis" ami "analvtic philosophv" h,n ' gaint:d .uch prestige sin e the beginnillg of the century, so much so that they equal in pathos and elasticity the "Ca rtesianism" i nvoked bv (he .wr-<'::l1ch. III both cases, tuo, I lISpcct that these verbal ad()Jjjt. rents serve the purpose of the same illusory transmutati~~nalogolls to the Echsun effect: 011e thinks that one ip,ot1Yerting, b) means lit d Il1 TL invocation. the ardu . t preferences and opinions into the rlai it} of 1he concepT ' he other current ass ning itself" at the moment 01" the great forrcd divide of ideas in the fifties IS rh logical positivism stemming from Vienna. hortly before Hiller's advent. some Austrian philosophers had assembled in <I socielY with ;1 significant narn : the Vrrein Ems! .\I(1cll. Thex aimed at translating iuto philosophy the ideal of scicutific purity associated wit h the name of the ph) sicisi Mach. rile title of their manifesto acknowledges the same ideal: Wi,I.\f'II,Ir!lrljifirhl' Wf'lt{lIIf/as.WlIg: der n'iPIlf'r Kreis ("The Scientific CotlCl'j}!ioll of the World: lhe Vienna Circle"). Arnoug the members of [his Circle. Moritz Schlick, Otto eurath, He) bert Ft'igl, Kurt GiideI. and Rudolf Carnap were to be found. Karl Popper and Ludwig Wirtgenstcin were among its associates, In Germany, Hans Reichenbach and Carl Hempel considered t helllseln.:s to be dose to the Circle. It is not an exaggeration to see in this group's debates the archetype of those which gu Oil today in most American universit ies. Wiugenstein above all remains the uncontested patriarch. The publications of the Vienna Circle are like the bin h certi ficate of all that has passed for rignl'Olls philosoph) ill the United States [or the last thirty vea rs. The key element of this rigor ronsists uf what must indeed be translated as t h c "pri nci pic of verifiability." This pri nr i pic sripularcs=-at least fUT the "operationalistst= rhar the meaning of a proposition is given b) the method of n-:rifyillg it. It may also imply that a proposition means exactlv the set 0[' experiences of which it gives an. account, and that its truth is rocxrcnsive with this set. Fhe main pan of traditional





philosophi al asserti n thus fall und r th \' r li t of nonsen (Sinniosigkf'it). v ry ethi al propo ilion, whether norrnanv or metal hy i al, calls upon moti nal as ociat ions, whi h r nd r it unverifiabl and depriv it of <l11)' cognitive valu. u h a proposition is n ith r rrue nor Ial : it ha no truth-valu (Wrrhrizeilswerr). The same hold' for pi t ruologicz I r c lism: to p ak of the outside world i no mar n: ibl ' than to speak of a higher world. We do 1101 pos ss any method t v rify if a world exists independently of our pro! 0 itions, v . or no. Th prin iple of V rifiability ends up r d ir cting rhe VI' di our e f philosoph its Jr. II nceforth th latt r do not oncern its If wit h the world but with rh languag through whi h people speak of the world. The data rhat it analyze i language-bound, that i whv it is transmut dint I gi ; m r ov r, its dat are mpirical, and that i. wh) it i po itivi t. Tnsofar as it is logical, it 1 n 1 it If LO Iorn alization, with th ensuing indifferen towards his tor ; insofar as it is po itivi t, it d dicat s it If to sci ntism. At Oxford, Johll L. Austin and Ifred y r tran lated th s pr rru for Til nglo- a n w rld. Ameri an pr gmatism, British ernpm l In, • nd Vienn se positivism joined together to form an intelle tual drama during the fifrie in t h United tates. t the time wh n nator J ph McCarth wa laun hing hi rusade against any vari t)' of critic 1 thinking in the nam of antiCommunism, none of th philosophy departments of the great univ rsitics e cap d from the purg . The couutryentered into the g of u picion. h oincid n with th r adjusrrn .nt of th a' of philosoph i triking to sa)' t I. I ast, Her i. how Ri hard Rorty des rib d thi change:
[Iln the earl Fifti ,an lytic philo phy began LO Lake over Am rican phil soph lepanment. he great cmigr'~arnap, H mpel, Feigl. Rei h nba h. Bergmann, T. r kibegan LO be treated with the resp' l th '/ d s n d. Their disciple began to be appointed to, and to d ruinate. the most prestigious departments. D parLm nt whi h did not go alon




with this trend hegan to lose their prestige, By 1960, a new set of philosophical paradigms was in place. A new son 0[" graduate education ill philosophy was emreuched=-oue in which Dewey and Whitehead, heroes the previous generation, were no longer read, in which the history of philosophy was deci ively downgraded, and in which the stl,lil) of logic assumed an importance previously given to the stud) of languages (Rorty, 1982, pp. 21·±rf).


Rorty, himself one of the n~~s in analytic philosophy, sees no political trace in [his disp'~cemcnt (while wruing that "on the other side of the street," "unscientific" European philosoph) predisposed Heidegger to Nazism and Sartre to Stalinism" just as it prevented Foucault from sharing in "the ordinary civilized hope for the rule of law' [Rorty, J 982, p. 229]). The take-over in question cannot be dissociated hom the g{)\'crnmenta[ and academic "witch hunt." If the social reformer Dewey and the philosopher of life Whitehead were no longer read, the reason w s that it was no longer prudent to read and leach them, J'he eclipse of American philosophy in America, that is, of pragmatism, is to be inscribed in a broad r cult ural overshadowing. it became dangerous to make pronouncements on what were then called "values." Whoever could not hang these on the American flag in orne way or other was labeled a Communist and put his career at risk. Even the positivists were nor entirely safe, for what could be more subversive than declaring concepts like "God" and "country" to be meaningless? [11 this at mosphere, where could one turn? Some Cerrnan emigres. such as Hannah Arendt, CVCI1 onsidere I exiling themselves once again. Others quietly left the academic world. But for the majority of intellectuals only two places of refuge presented themselves: religion and the sciences, These WPl"{' the two dear and avowable ways of settling the question of "values" -one bf'ing homiletic, and the other. as the Viennese had rightly put it. toertneutral, neutral with regard to values, May Holderlin forgive me-"There where the danger lies, also grows / That which saves," What was growing was Willard




Quine, "the greatest of the Ii iug y lema tic philo oph r. (Stuart Hamps hir )- nd what was to be s ved was [he regime of ordim T)' languag . Quine' ssay "Two Dogma. of Empiricism." vhich would be orn the di tionary of allY philosoph' that wantc I to be scientific appeared in 1951. Th . guiding que nion in philo ophy b came: "What do we 111 an whetr'we say that ... ;'" he task of analy is became r . trifled 10 the examination of propo. ition uch as "No I achelor is married.Twords such as "and," "not," or "as," and of what Quine called ontic ornmitmern. When we say, for instance, that "Th rc is an . .uch that. i' a bach .lor,' we ar committing ours lv to holding that. omething like a bach 1.01 exists, The logical regime of ordinary language thus allow it If t b axiornatize I. alues n longer fall under' the verdict of nons nse but into th n twork of beliefs about which the pi ilosoplier of ordinary language ha nothing to ay. Th reference of word. Quin said, remains impenetrable. Strengthened b this restriction, he not only survived the r ss-Iire of denun iation at Harvard Univ rsiiy but, more0\ r, established th model for what sci ntifi philosoph' would h nceforth become. To the great dismay of the newcomers on the market of elite univ rsiti s, such a Princeton and Pittsburgh, rh department at Harvard s I and continues lO l th tone ill a adernic philosoph .1" Harvard phil sophy goe, 0 goes th di cipline,' an apothegm that one is told _ .. at Harvard. Consequently, similar turn was to be taken in all of the major univ r ities of the country. From B rkeley, Hannah r n It wrot to Karl Ja p r , "Philosophy has fall n int cmantic -and thir I-rate ernantics at thar.:" representative propo d a law which aimed at eliminating any philosoph' cou rses other than elemen tar- and advanced logic on public campuse . Th latter ubjects w re "saf " be au' . in the catalogu s their cours descriptions referred to cornput r . The pre tig of formal logic was ind sed combined, quit naturally, with the new formula DOl' guaranteeing national pr stige: to put scientific research in step with military defense. For,




professor of philosoph}', the gum-ant d mean of obtaining importaru federal grants was and remain submitting research programs which are treatable in form .[ '7 d language. If it is true, as Hegel thinks, that the philoso hr is the spokesman of the objective spirit of hi time, the .1ited States have an I ran effectively deem themselves hapllY- The faith iu rerhuology is the cement to which the s)'s 111' of ideas, ;]S vat ied as the) nltt) be, owe their cohesion, and \\hich the relative intellectual diversification of r cent years has neither haken nor "en r vealed. I t is enough to study the disposition of the buildings on mart)' American campuses to see how philosophers discharge themselves or 1 he [ask that Hegel assigned to them. Their departments are often adjacent to the computer center. The monochromatic COIlstellation of knowledge, which henr forth is steel gray, reaches the dignity the concept in the articles= more rarely, in the books-where philosophy makes itself the oncil!a uf s ieritific knowledge and of its contemporary methods. T() be sure, it is only in some fine clement of re earch that it directly serves rhe State Department or the Pentagon, but in all of its ex, rcises, analytic reason consolidates and legitimates the surrounding .cicnrism. A culture receives the philosophers that it deserves. l fin Germany their deformation professionelle leads them to ceaselessly bring back into service a tradition which i perhaps over. and ill France to give in to literary posturings, in America, it is the search for the right effect in the s n e of effi aciousness which lurks in them. As Reirheubach said, " ... scientific philosophy which, in the science of our time. has foun I rhe tools to solve those problems that in earlier 1 imes have been I he subject of guesswork only" (Rorty, 1982, p. 211). Here is the matrix which the post-war baby boom came and filled, producing an unequaled growth in the student population, During tie sixties, all Icpartrnerus were in expansion. What was the training of those who obtained teaching positions in philosophy th 'n? They grew up with Quine's disjunctive motto: study either history of philosophy 01 philosophy, The major part of the new professors






con i I 'red that aJD readi ng other than that of 1he most recent articles beari,{l}{ their colleagues' names was not conducive to philosoph] .al practice. As ihe leading figures in lingui tic analx"is admit themselves, a generation of uncultivated intell cruals was put into place tw I1ly yeal S 3g0. S d rnographic growth soon slowed, most institutions today find therns lv es blocked up by a mass of instructors nearing fifty, whose canon of excellence only consists in rigor ill argum Illation with the ensuing uniformity of ITILhod and style. Towards the middle of the seventies, the mentors became aware that they ould no longer quite find position foi their discipl s. In order to full) grasp the features of the turn that presents itself here, it is advisable to briefly describe each of ih two fore which Quine disjointed. Th scieruifi philo '0phy which be advocat .d has indeed transformed itself into an art of the pica. and the history of philosophy Ihat he took exception to, into phenom nology. What the Greeks called "preserx ing phenomena" tdiasoiein ta phainomena, Eudoxus) 01 "following phenomena" (rtlwlouthell1 lois phainomenois, Aristotle). the "return to things themselves" to which Husserl exhorted us, [11m finds itself excluded from rigorous philosophical discour e in America. This results from an extreme conception of truth as consensus-extreme. for what then is true. as Richard Rorty has said, is what your collengues are willing to kt you say, The locus of truth under. toad as consensu is the articles and the congresses where one shows oneself off. One may doubt that Charles Peirce would recognize himself in rhis version of hIS theory, which has been entirely reduced to professionalism. Bill th cleavage is there: "Our geniuses invent problems and programs de novo, rather than finding them ill the things themselves" (Rorty, 1982. P: 218). The Standing-On; Once [he gap separating has been institutionalized. of Allolysi.\

scientific philosophy from the rest and scientific method has been


SOC I A 1. R r

s L'\


defined bv analysis. it is not difficult to establish an inventor ' , , of some of the outsranding traits of th_~dismurse that is held to be serious. In the wav of i:llt' 'lratiofls. here ure four characteristics. of which onh first directlv results from scientism invest d with rilal hopes. The of hers al rC-;HI prc'iuppose a degree 0 L_~)icion cast upon the exemplarity of scientific rigor. The deductive 1J1()(f@fn a broad sense, this model is t he ideal which, with the Greeks, gave rise to the type of sta(('I1WIII<; 111;11 are called philosophical. [I seems that Aristotle was less optimistic than Plato about the chances that a mortal has (If reasoning without fail dud without dispersion from intuitive principles. l n the strict sense, the deductive rnoclel was imposed by the Vienna Circle, Rudolf Caruap held that a reasoning was deductive if there existed between two given pro positiuns a. relation of implication such that the meaning of the nne could be obtained from the other bv mere formal analysis-on condition, 10 be sure, t har what 1heir relation of implication must be has previously been defined. this definition of deduction in all its brevity is a formal pi ill! 11'1l' which has JlO need of specific laws III be valid (Car-nap held it to be compatible with the dcfin ition of ind uction in logic, btl t Ihat i ;1I10th r probl m). Specific laws only intervene in order to move from a First proposition 10 derived propositions. Linguistic analysis .. at least in the second generation of t he Vienna Circle, therefore aims at showing the consequf'IICCS or a proposition treated as a principle. One does not examine what a proposition. peaks of, but which are the formal operations which it enables. The anal) sis is l'igOlOlIS if it allows one to identify [he laws according to whi h a first proposition gives rise, or docs not give rise, to secondary effects of meaning. The ideal-to which some professors oj' ctllies still cling <lOO"C all-would be tu discover a supreme proposition whose formal consequences might all be mapped out in [he manner of Einstein's universal formula, these consequences heing ;Ipplicable, if not to every sentence claiming to he meaningful, at

ftb~ .





I ast to any th ory 0 meaning wbeth r phy i al, ethical, or political. Such a principle of prin ipl would allow one to de id in matters lik th allocat ion of com peten ie by assigning a t p of fit n c to that type of discipline and, hen ,to that acad mic fa ulty. Within a dis iplin ,111 P rf ct deductive method would allow one to sa)' what is a good physi al. thical, or politi I d ctrin , and what is a had on '. Thus, Ian Gewirth's "principl of g neric oh renee" (G wirth, 1978) s rv t d cide what is a consistent and an in on i t nt thing t do, yen in individual situations. On no longer s ts mu h st re in th comlllg of an Ein t in of analyti philo ophy, but "re earch programs' [or e tabli hing uch di ciplinar principle whi h would b supr m in a genre remain the prof ssional e r, ( for a good number of tea hers and authors. If th I ader of the field no longer subs rib to thi , it i b cause the ci nri t. lreadv r I gat d rh id .al of univ rsal coherenc ,and of formula that would 'aptur it, to phanta rns=-or [0 paradigms, th y hav b n called since homas Kuhn. Th d lu tiv meth cl is the strategy whih in .tituted a certain paradigm in moo rn since. To acknowledge thi i alr ad r to r noun e t he canon institut d by th great Vi nne .e, The pleading style. As the scientist recognized that lIVntneutralitiit had been embraced b their predeces or a' an ideal, as a valu , PI' cis 1 " philosoph rs discover- d an unex pe tc i nakedne of their own' the mantle of monochromatic obje .tivity was with lrawn from them. Th y wcr n n any more ready to renounce d du tive di .. ur '. However, as th )' W re abandoned by their physicist hero " they fell ba k onto the latt r' t, le. The new polychromia whi h wa born from [he ixti s re ults from tb polymorphous causes which are pleaded for. oday, the most widespread philosophical style in the United Slat is that of litigation, and the rna lout tanding trait of how it is stat d i sallying forth, tanding out" in the sens of attacking. A good paper is on in hich one hoo a topic to plead or




argue for and an opponent to unseal. Like a lawyer, one constructs an argument, one stakes Out a claim, and one says "I." The idea that one is hold~6g. forth may be a mere opinion or preference, the reason~: may lack any critical sense, and the knowledge base. any ~rical awareness-if in the exordia and in the conclusion Ii,words "I argue" and "1 claim" arc LU be found. one is assun d of respectability. When the affinities of philosophical discourse are thus displaced from the laboratory to the bar association, certain ancient traditions find themselves partially rehabilitated: Greek sophistics and medieval disputatio. But in those two preceding cases, the aim was to convince, while the pleading style seeks to confound. One takes an opponent to trial not in order to persuade him, but to prove that he is in the wrong. "Philosophy is carried on as a coercive activity," writes Robert Nozick, a new star at Harvard." The
constructe I, in the guise of a one which leaves the opponent without any recourse. Therein it destroys the art of rallying the contradictor, the rhetorical art. Sophistic techniques and. gencral! r, dialectical techniques aim at winning over the antagonist to a cause; here, on the other hand, the aim is to win a cause. As a matter of style and skill, philosophical demonstration may place itself at the service of any party. Here is how Richard Rorry describes these professionals of argumentation agam:
[T[he able philosopher should be able to spot Haws ill any argument he hears. Further, he should be able to do this on topics outside of those usually discussedin philosophy courses as well as on "specifically philosophical" issues. As a corollary. he should be able to construct as good an argument as can be constructed [or an)' view. no matter how ' v nmg-heaued. The ideal of philosophical ability is to see the entire universe of possible assertions in all theiri nfererrtial relations to one another. and rhus to be able to construct, or rru icize, any argument (Rortv, 1982, p. 219).

good argument-tightly relentless deduction-is


is the ideal of a corporation>

of technicians.







th m to th


of til

French in pecteurs do

[ina IIC
Tit (OU IIfer-tactics. Just like the sophi ts again. analytic b ilosophers have cl velop d I he art of th ount r-anack. nsofar as the [rat yofth tic discour: is deductive.uhe most tactic of antithetical di curse is that of rhc COliIller- xarnpl ,Th OppOIl nt produce a a, wI ich do s not fall under the proposed dedu tion and which, if the coumcr-exaurple is pertinent, ruins thai deduction. Laws, ther fore, have to b determined ac rding to wlti hone might formally establish th conditions lind r whi h a parti ular rase really invalidat a th sis, An xarnple will be use I La illustrate both the ta tic of the counter-exam] I an I on of the subje t ill which this sort of • rgum ntauon is prac: iced with a vehemence not always worth), of a government inspector." The exarnpl is taken fr m the d bate opposing th majorit of the feminists and the d fend rs ot the "right to life," A spoke woman for the major-it de lares h rself ready to admit, for the sak of argum nt that a f tus is a person, c nd even that it. is a tal rued p rson. It do ' not follow that the Iet u ha a right to life. That can be shown by the following count r- xampl :
Suppose that you woke up one morning and found lhal \\ ere conn t d to a talented violin ist (becau e he had a kidney disea e and only Y II had the right blood type) and Mu il Lover's Soci ty had plugged you toge'l her. When protested, they said "0 nt won ,it's only for nine months, th '11 he'll h ured. And you an'r unplug him be aus now the connection has been mad , he will die if you do." you rare the you



his count r-exarnpl is considered nor onl to waken th position of the defenders of life but also, moreover, to prov the right to abortion. The midd! term is the right of pr pert)'. You own your body, for it would be absurd to hold that rh person in th countcr-exarnpl to whom the si k person was connect d would not have th right to unplug him. The tor ,




therefore. serves to establi h that a human has the right to dispose of his or her body like PTt'rerty, even when the life of another is at stake, and that Can cequcntly the supporters of the right to life are not only g;. f1 of faulty reasoning, but wrong. The art of the COUIl~ ~ xample consists in grantillg 1 he opponent his premises 1 d then showing that the conclusions that he draws from 14t:01 do not follow at all. But it has proved difficult to establish with any precision under which conditions a particular case may serv ~ to ruin a general thesis. Hence, the frequent, and more modest, appeal to intuition. One will say that the supposed obligation 10 remain connected to a sick musician for nine months is contrary to intuition, counter-intuitive. On obviously cannot help asking what knowledge that conforms to intuition would be, and where it would come from. The least one could say is that is not a popular question on Anglo-Saxon soil, and fur good reasons. It would cast doubt upou cornmon sense; it would oblige one to view the latter as a product historical, sociological, and psychological constellations rather than as the last instance in any search fur legitimation: lastly. it would hit an unanalyzed nerve of all analysis. That cornrnun sense might be an ideology is a suspicion that none of the tendencies [ have taken account of is capable of facing up [0: not the older pragmatism, not positivism, and not anal 'sis. All of them would cast it off, 011 1 he contrary, by invoking ordinary language as that which offers I he last parameters for a more sober philosophy. Thus, common sense would be that which speaks in ordinary language. Ockham's razor. The principle of parsimoniousness stated by William of Ockham deserves to be cited amongst the outstanding traits of analytic philosophy not only because it expresses the ideal of a tightly woven plea, but also because it con tirutes one of the vcr)' rare intrusions of a thinker prior to Qu ine inro established discou rse. I t would be pui n tless to multiply the premises beyond those which are necessary: this principle enjoys an exorbitant prestige 101Iar. II is exorbitant





because th il~~lnClioTl to use premises economically finds itself xten t d to every possible figur of reasoning, and al 0 b ause it is torn from the unive rse of medieval philosoph. It, uevertheless, indicates t hc ideal of a succinct proof clearly fa I" the "razor" must ell t off from an argument the propositions which do not relate to the base of the ausc in litigation. One ma}' air ad)' doubt that Ockharn would have rccogni /cd himself in the norninali t label that he is given; but to enroll Ockham in rhe corporation of the inspecieurs des Finances of the Arneri an philosophical establishment is to exert some violen .e on his innovative talents which "ere aptured by the name given to him. inceptor uenrrobitis. A com parable list of categories -j ust as cursory, ami j list as rhapsodical-can be drawn for the tendencies of which I have aid that they are termed European, historical. Continental, or phenomenolugical without all) great care taken to distingui It them. As the disagreement bears on the origin philosophical problerns-e invention of arguments at the bar de novo, 01 faithfulness to things themselves=-onc may retain the epithet of phenomenology and ask which are the existentialia which characterize its being-in-the-new-world.


The E. .istentialia of ?Iwzomrnofog')' in the United Stales First all, it is a genre. and it is that in several senses. If it si m ply designates the other of ana lysis, its pu rported unit} will be asier to discern from outside-for example, seen from Harvard-e-than From inside. It would ind cd be c mtradictorv Ihat the other of claritv divide itself bv means of clearl identifiable specific differences. Seen from \\ irhin, judging [rom the conference topics and the C( ur e catalogu " the generic label of "phenomenology," however, cover' an astonishing number of species, ev n if people do not go as far as tu include history of philosoph) in it. At the annual congr sses of the socier which bear the word "phenornenol, j I





ogy" in its name, erninar are held Hot only on Husser! and his direct or indirect followers but ;:_Uso Oil Srructuralism. Nietzsche. and Freud, without f6r.getling the "interfaces" which s em to offer so rnauv O~1l mporary modes of access to the apeiron: "Phenomenolo~ot X," or "Phenomenology ami X." To quote only the titles-of some of the presentations at the 1984 onference of tliT;¢ Societv for Phcnornenologj and Existential Philosophyt:"X" may be replaced by Kant. J lege I, Barihe , Foucault, critical theory, anti-humanism, deconstruction. cognitive psychology. education, ecology, or even the televised debates between Reagan and Mondale. Pheuornenology has become a genus with many species. It is also a "styl ,,~ that ouc can gi\'e oneself, whi h in other acad mil' circles would run up against the ..valls in which prms, the goddess Limit. ordinarily encloses Anglo-Saxon respectability. When an author inspired h\ Sade and Bataill ' read his texts in front of this Society, the objection was made to him thai he was in the wrong country and ihar his place was rather in Fran 'e. A double forced extension of the genus for genre]. then. as a class of species, and as a way of being, in which only the fOl'lller combines well wit h the most widely shared conviction of the New World, that is, thai limits are an inhibition of the Old World. I f phenomenology as a discipline is hospitable. its gener isities are poorly returned by the institutions. Hence. a second trait follows, the condition of diasporn. A survey performc(l ten years ago showed that the tear hillg community then only considered nine philosophy departments our of eighty-six in the entire country to be offer ing a viable program in recent and ont rnporarv European philosoph) (phenomenology in the broad sense and larxism)." No one would contest that since then the number has gone down further. The dias/mHi is thus of a geographical sort: the plane is the main working instrument of any res arch seminar. It is also of an institu tiona! sort. In the big state u niversities, one may easi I) find three or four highl) . pe ializcd professors of contempo-




rar logic lAe same number teaching ethical theories (for instan , laturalist, deontological non-naturalist, coguitivist, ling.u· tic non-cognitivist), and on} 'on teacher )f the hi tor,' o..£l?hilosophy from the pre-socratics to the post-moderns, The l<hter will typically have th rank of Assistant Profe . or, be replaced evel-Y four to six years, and be told that he would be better uited to a history department. The iru lIe tual isolation is, therefore, not to be construed as resulting only from geographical distance; it stems more from the phenomenon of the 'token', that is, the granting for form's akc of a po irian to the disciplines which are prior or external to the linguisti turn in philosophy. to The two factors, g Ogl-, phical and institutional, are de lnrloindissociable, and the margins of analytic philosophy are preferably 10 .a ted on the East and West coasts the country. Another trait would be willing atellization. A th uri Il utbeading of "Continental philosophy" indicates, everything that irculat und r that label bears all import marking. One go to, and ontinues to go to, Freiburg, Frankfurt, the College d France, and the rue d'Ulm-the cardinal points of tbis imaginary continenr -to bring back th ipsissima verba of the respective master. This satellization in [act pre edcd the ris of the actual master-think I"S. A considerable P rcemagc of the American philosophers who call themselves or are called phenomcnclogists-c-a percentage which is difficult to re kon with any precision-was recruited amidst form r Thomists. Twenty ear ago still, the quadrant in qu srion conn led Chantilly, Louvaiu, Munich. and Freiburg in Switzerland, instead. The events of the sixties had much to do with this new staking-out of the marking-points. To the corridor of ideas coming from the East another most be added, whose importance is underestimated in Europe. The lattei reproduces the data of "he physical map of the world more faithfully onto the phautasrnatic map_ As is known, in America, the Orient is to the west. III California above all, the gods whose nothingness is onternplated in Kyoto are do er to people'



soct s r.


hearts than the one whose Being is proven in Louvain. Consequently, phenomenologists with broad horizons found in Zen Buddhism fitting nourishro"!nt for their thoughtexperiments-a philosophical . ronstrosity for any Kantian, The natural setting of the ~1ange with the Asian 5 hools is the LrJivcrsity of Hawaii, \ hich notably discharges itself of [his responsibility by pub 'ping a good journal, Tu speak of satellizatiuu does nnt'JIP{eall [hat innovative work in phenomenology is lacking in the United States. But, if only because of the lineage which is still short, this work still relies on vocabularies and schemes acquired elsewhere. The spread of phenomenological discourse an unfold itself, lastly, according to stakes other than philosophical ones. Therein lies one of the benefits of the condition of diaspom and satellizatiou. From this a fourth trait follows, rhat of faculty dispel' ion. T1Sontogenesis may be narrated in few words, a narration scanning the meetings with students attempting to develop a study program. The typi al personal itinerary produces a forced interdisciplinarity: the student registers in a philosophy department in her geograpbical area; instead of the Truth that she was searching for, all that is offered are linguistic anal), es which ultimately are tiresome: then she changes disciplines and ends up writing a thesis emitled "Phenomenology of Mob)' Dick," or of class struggle. or of the paternal complex. Following all this she will be hired in a department of Iircrat 11 rc, social sciene s. or psychology and will salisfy in turn the disappointed philosophical aspirations of a new gell ration. From many angles, the Continental rraduion is better taught, thus, outside of philosophy departrneurs than within th(,IlI.\NilI. all classificatory caution, one may sa)' that the work of mediation of literary theory was mainly accomplished by and around Paul de Man, anti that of the social sciences, by Alfred Schlitz-both of European origin, it is true. In the human sciences, the situation is ton complex fOl- a name to be cited as a marking-point. The numerous forms of dispersion give rise to equally





numerou pvlrafives, Su pposedly charitable ponsors arc 1 here to upp rt journz Is, colloquium, and publications of all kind " and tt speciali ts j in tog ther in associations which ,U' half ¥ soni lodge, half familial home, ocialization is effe led through "circle "-by th " ietz he Society," th "Husser! Cir J. ," the "Heir! gg r," " an re," or "M rl au-Pont>" Circl , Considering the names of these figures, it is not. ntirel wrong to d scribe the cleavage dividing philosophical Ameri a as a continental divide.

"Since we have been a conversation ,
If during the fiftie the tend 11 y wa to run to th sh It rs from the suspicion of anti-Ameri an ideas, and during the sixti s it was to consolidat lit scientism which issued from that suspicion, what is happ ning today? Evidence show that scientism in philosophy, even if it has turned into the art of the plea, has 10 t none of its prestige, But one is also witn ssing a slow diver ification of discour e. For a few years, this has taken on th shape of an open power truggle within the association of philosophy pr fessor , the American Philosophical SSOCIation. This astonishing struggle goes on by means of the mechanism through whi h mericans have shaped their democracy since its beginning; parliamentary delibcrai ion. Til struggle mainly plays itself out in the annual congress s of the profe sian which bring togel'her several thousands of philosoph rs each time, In order to have historical aud phenom nologi al method approved, one has to move straight away onto the terrain of elections, cornrnis sion '. secret or open votes. and ballot handed in at a s mblies o r by mail-in other word, onto the terrain of [legalJ pro .ediugs. By means of a carefully or hestrared usage of these procedures, the opposition was able to win a series of vi rories smre 1978 in the game of representation. This opposition has come




together under the label of "pluralists." Who an: they? To know this contesting coalition, it is enough to remember the successive purges since the war and draw up the list of those who were rejected. The "pluralists" were, therefore, born from an alliance between classical pragmatists, historians of European philosophy, speculative metaphysicians who were followers of Whitehead, and phenomenologists in the specific sense. One should not believe eit _fthat all these groups demanding to be recognized today profess Leftist or subversiv critical doctrines, or that the old obsession with tile defense of values has disappeared. In the arm hair battles at the conferences' business meetings, the two parties sometimes call each other Communists. To the vanquished of the last decades, two groups must be added who, for different but complementary reasons, found themselves on the victor's side, yet who sometimes sympathize with the pluralist cause. I have said that the two ideological shelters in the McCarthy era were science and religion. Among the philosophers who received their training during til, sixties, some were subsequently driven to supplement the antiintelle tualism of their studies by auto-didact activity. These philosophers were not as easily intimidated by the "analytic' norm, so that their independence in voting sometimes makes fOT the sorrow of their former masters. The other newly emboldened ex-victors are the intellectuals for whom religious affiliation had served as a shield. Their number isrmprcssivc: in the directories of the profession, the specialization mOSI frequently referred to is "philosophy of religion." To this contingent must be added those among the leaders of the pluralist revolt whose motives are more or less tacitly of a religious order. The importance of this factor should not be surprising in a country whose percentage of inhabitants declaring themselves to be believers is, after India's, the highest in the world-ninety pcrcem-and where almost a third of philosophy courses are given in Catholic establish-





merits (an introduction to philosophy is compulsory for students in all disciplines, including s. ience and medicine). The n("w eclecticism of philosophy in the United States does not ~ly rnanifesr itself in the sl1~ugglc for inst itutiunal recognition. It also appears in publications whose tone would have been inconceivable Len years ago. This is because the misadventure of a once pure and hard discourse which has fallen today to the level of mere techniques of argument has ended up confusing the line of demarcation between analysis and its other. This misadventure is illustrated in exemplary fashion by the itinerary of Richard Rorty. ntil recently a professor at Princeton University-m one of the bastions, then, of philosophy seeking to be scientific, and its successive fashions-he first published work on the "linguistic rum" and its consequences, Then, in PhilosOI)hi)1and the Mirror of Nature (1979), he made himself the advocate of the "edifying" thought of Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger against the pisremological heritage and its contemporary heir, analytic method, After this disenchantment, it was only natural that he resign from Princeton. But how has he re-oriented himself? Contrary to what one might expect. he has not joined forces with any of the tendencies in t he "pluralist" coalition. He now cans hirns If, not without a strong dose of irony, it is true, a literary criti . His disenchant merit has therefore left the either/or between rigorous philosophy and its other intact, that between science and letters. He continues to hold that the gap between analysis and phenomenology is as deep as that which separates biology from classical studies. for example. Only now that the scientific id al has twisted itself into the styl of th plea, he can unmask analytic philosophy as the public-relations agency of the sciences. and Continental philosophy as that of literature. On either side of the Atlantic, or of the Channel, those who call themselves and are called philosophers have in truth been lawyers, knowingly in the ca e of the phenomenologists and their associates, and unknowingly in that of the Viennese and



their cohorts. Th is allows Ron y to plead for a new cause: 1 he conception of history as an uninterrupted conversation with multiple voices. H could have qlW' Holderlin (,'Sfit ein Gespriicl: wi)' sind .... ') in the po fl Friedensfeier" bu t h calls this polyphony sometime h '.1 neuti s, sometimes P' agrnati m. The amalgamation we)" Heidegger, and the later Wittgenstein underscor .~tillite surf! 'i ntly not only that the disjunction between rh scientific mode and the other mode remains untouched, 19L1l also l hal (h is other mod rernai IlS a gellre which is des ribable as such. At bottom. the authors oj' this genre all seek the sam thing: to edify the read r. From Jacques Derrida, Rorty retained that it would be pointless to search for a first text beneath Ihe t xtual trace whir h made history -a fir. t [ext which mo t logical positivists precisely hoped to be able to bring to light. Rut one may doubt that J~H"CJllCS Derrida would be very happy to End himself annexed to a pragmatism which here again is defined by the parliamentary model: "For the pragmatists, the pau rn all inquirv=-scicutific as well as moral-i deliberation concerning the relative ttra tions of various concrete alternatives" (ROIly, 19H2, p. 1(4). The continental rift doe indeed continue to separate those who know what rh yare doing from th others-except that now thos who know are the pragmarisrs, pheuorneuologists, Structuralists, post-Structuralists. literary critics, archaeulugists of knowledge lind ih orists of communicati vc ,HI ion combined, and what they ar doing is crli I','iIIg' 1he uninterrupted poem of Western civilization. I'he others continue to b li ve that sorn where 1her exists all ult irnatc truth 10 be discovered and that the ciences hold the key to it Other cont mporary developments could he cited LO show that the old confidence in analytic rig r has com upon hard times. and that the ontours of insritutionalized dis ourse ale becoming \ague. The phy i al and intellectual presence of Paul Ricoeur ill the United States no doubt has something to do with it. Thus, John Searle. the champion of til(' theory of speech acts, now speaks of inrentionalitv, and Jaakko Hint i kka,



J .])








the logician of the semantics of po sibl worlds, of the life-world. But it would I.) ju t as easy to show that these are borrowiugs of terminology rather than genuine dialogues 'A ii h Hu scrl. This is '>0 b cau e the ontinental rift . parating the two discursix e universes, even if it LS overdetermined by ets of pow' " remains first of all of a phil ophical order. In order to eouvin e oneself of that, it should ufficc La lead Hans-Georg Gadamer bel' and Donald Davidson (1984) there language and interpretation, or Max Scheler here and Thomas agel (1979) [here on ethical problems, or lastly I ad Ja pel'S here and Robert NOlLCK there on as modest an < ortrnent of probJems as elf-idcrnity, th ondirion of free will, of knowledge and of being tout court without forgetting rhos of philosophy. On will rh .n notice that [he bifurcation bas on the method applied to them and th t pc of intelligibility that is sought for, at I ast, if not always 011 th actual questions raised. Are, earch institute ".... a broad focus, ith as the Max Planck Institute at Starnberg was until ihrec years ago is without doubt < lone capabl of putting these heteromorphous languages tu work. Indeed, only the disciples of JOrgcn Haberrnas se m to me to pur ue a C011\' rsation betw en Anglo-Saxon and Continental traditions in an alert, continuou , and nuanced manner-ev n if th r are guided by a specific interest, that of a them), of communicative a tion. The place of birth of this exchange is not LO b found on the other side til Atlanti but of tb Rhine. T'ra uslatcd by Charles T. Wolfe




'\lot es
I cr. Bruce Kuckli k, The RiM' of American Philosoph, (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1977). 2 Quoted ny Elizabeth Young-Bruchl (l982). P: 295, :l l'Sallying forth' and tstanding out' render the single term saillie. which the author plays Oil, begi nil ing with the ritlr of this sect ion:



"Lrs saillie: dl' /"nlllll)'I(''' could also be rendered as "The Sallying-Forth of An.ilvvis": analvsis has "outstanding traits" (traits milfant.I),l I Ruben Nozick (1981). p. L He adrls that, .. lhe terminology of philosophical art is roer ive: ~ ,g'llm nts are P01l'f'1jll/ and b ·SI when thev are Rllo(/ufown. a rgume.j!<i /01'[(' vou to <I conclusion . ." f, [,Corporation' should b' taken ill its older sen e, akin 1O 'gl'ild' CJI 'boch of \\\) P~J' le'. The original term iii ~impl} '(Ill/II', used in the sense of, 10r$ mple, 'corps dlplol1taliqlu".]

l' [11,\/11'(/1'111' d~JlI/(lnres', 1

;' 'I he (l1 gument lias been developed by Judith T'homson and sunun.uizcd by Janice Moulton (19H3), pp. 159ff. H [A, the author indicates in the beginning of thi .. section, rI if'lerent senses or the word 'gl'llre' are at work: it is used to mean 'genus' ill the preceding senten e: here, ',I/' dormer lin gUll'!" is to give oneself .1 ~t\ le.] ~.These nine departments were to be found, III order of' prefcrem c, ill the following universities: orrhwest Ill, Yale. Peuusv lvauia Stale, New School for So iell Research, Univcrslty of Texas (Austill), Duquesne, Boston University, University of' Cnlifornia (San Diego), and SUN)' (Stony Brook); cf. Sulomon (1975). 11) All example would be the University of Illinois at Chicago. The philosophv bculL\ ..IT!:' a total of nineteen professors, Of these, eleven arc specialized in philosophy of language, epistemology, and lugic:. five in philosoph, of law or eth irs, (Jill' in aesthetic. and oul} two in historical disciplines: one in Greek philosophy and (he ot hcr in "Existent]: lism, Phenomenology, and Marxism."

B i 111 iography
D., lnquivi»: into Truth and Lnterprrtatiau (New YOlk: Uxlurd Press. 1984), Cewillh, A., Reason and Aloralll), (Chicago: University of' .hicagu Press, 19i8). Kurklick, B. The. Rise of +mrncan Philwophy (New l Iavc n: Yale Univcrsitv Press. 1977). ~101lIloll,.J '. "A Paradigm of Philosophy: The Adversai v Method.' in Harding, S, and l Iinukka, \1.B.. eris., DiH'o1,pring Rmlil)' (Dordrecht: Reidel, 198~), Nagel. T .. Morlal Q1Jl'.~t;OllS (New York: Cambridge University Press, Davidson.






Nozick, R., Pl!7fri"sophica{ E:\'/Jlanotions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universi~ Press, 1981). Ro rty , R., ionsequences of Pragmatism (Minneapolis: Univ r it}' of Minn .. esota Press, 1982)_ Solem t, R., "Graduate Study in Continental Philosoph)' ill rnerican Universities," Teaching Philosoph), 112 (Autumn 197.5). Yeung-Bruehl, E., Hannah. Arendt: Fill' Love of the 'WOI'lel (New Hasen: Yale University I ress, (982).

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