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Carl Sachs
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Since neither "Continental philosophy" nor "analytic philosophy" are natural-kind terms, identifying a cross-over school is going to be tricky. For example, are UCSD and Georgetown 'cross-over' departments or 'pluralistic'? UCSD has people who work in 19th-century idealism and Nietzsche; GU has people who work in 19th-century idealism and phenomenology. A student from one of those schools could certainly understand what was at stake in Frege's criticism of Husserl, or what is correct and incorrect in Carnap's critique of Heidegger. However, there are many departments in which coverage of "Continental philosophy" stops in the 1940s or 1950s. University of New Mexico, Northwestern, and Notre Dame are all exceptions to that generalization and also teach core analytic philosophy. So 'cross-over' becomes something like, 'which departments don't have a blind-spot about Continental realism?'
"I am alone in the midst of these happy, reasonable voices. All these creatures spend their time explaining, realizing happily that they agree with each other. In Heaven's name, why is it so important to think the same things all together." I'll burn that on the inside of my eyelids and smirk when anyone asks me why I'm blinking so much during my nine-hour new faculty orientation session on Friday.
Yes, that's a very nice point -- 'pernicious' is somewhat different from 'bad.' It's not hard to see how Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Quine, or Derrida might be pernicious insofar as their work authorizes the production of disciples whose contributions consist of making the same points over and over again. And yet there's no doubt in my mind that all four are brilliant philosophers worthy of careful study -- in order to see more clearly their profound weaknesses and limitations, and how much work there still is to do! Perhaps the most pernicious of notions here is the notion of perniciousness itself?
I do think there are distinct intellectual virtues engendered by skilled competence in more than one philosophical tradition: suppleness of thought, the creativity akin to cross-modal integration, liberation from the dogmatic pronouncements of previous generations all come to mind. Though saying that skilled understanding (not just familiarity) is crucial for philosophical competence (not just intellectual excellence) seems to be raising the bar somewhat high -- by that standard, I suspect that philosophical competence will forever elude me. Since most NewAPPS participants are coming to pluralism from the side of solid grounding in "analytic" (loosely construed) philosophy, let me say something about my experiences traveling in the opposite direction. I was trained at the intersection of the history of philosophy and 'Continental' philosophy, and wrote a dissertation that was basically a solid history of philosophy work on Nietzsche -- though 'my' Nietzsche was closer to that of Foucault and Deleuze than to that of Leiter and Clark. The scales fell from my eyes in stages, but the biggest turning point was reading Jay Bernstein's 2001 book on Adorno. I was utterly blown away by how Bernstein was able to translate Adorno's gnomic pronouncements into arguments that bore directly on central concerns of analytic epistemology and metaethics -- yet at the same time showing exactly why Adorno had a stronger position than McDowell or Brandom. In order to figure out what Bernstein was doing and why, I started reading McDowell (there was a small McDowell reading group in my grad department, continuing the UCSD legacy as a resistance cell of German Idealism within mainstream philosophy). From then I started reading Sellars and Brandom, and I was off to the races. To this day I still get some criticism from friends who are invested in their identity as Continental philosophers -- but that pales in comparison to the support I receive from colleagues trained in both 'analytic' and 'Continental' tradition. I actually feel quite confident that someday quite soon someone will be able to write a book, The Rise and Fall of the Analytic/Continental Divide: 1931-2014.* * I picked 1931 because that was when Carnap published "Uberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache”, and 2014 because, as Cogburn has been urging here, the rise of 'Continental realism' does away with the last major substantive divide between analytic and Continental philosophy.
I think we can gain some traction on these questions by asking, "who needs to know the history of philosophy, and for what purposes?" (I've only taught undergraduates, so please take with multiple grains of salt my opinions about what graduate students should be asked to understand.) At the undergraduate level, I'm become firmly convinced that we do our students a profound disservice by acting as if the foremost purpose of an undergraduate major is to prepare students for graduate school and the subsequent career of a professional philosopher. We should, instead, renew our vocation of equipping our students with the cognitive tools to flourish (hopefully) in an increasingly uncertain and perilous social and physical environment. (A first-year college student will almost certainly, if she has a normal life-expectancy for someone in the developed world, experience political and ecological turmoil of a degree that we may hope we never do.) In light of that, it's not clear to me how much history of philosophy is really needed at the undergraduate level -- and I say this as someone who mostly teaches the history of philosophy. Rather, I think there's a strong presumptive case that understanding the epistemology of ignorance, or the mistakes that non-scientists commonly make when reasoning about scientific discoveries and theories, is of far more importance than getting our undergraduate students to appreciate the dialectic from Kant to Hegel to neo-Kantianism to neo-Hegelianism. Even at the graduate level, it's not so clear to me that student pursuing a terminal MA really need to appreciate the history of philosophy in all that much depth. It's only the Ph.D. students -- those who are likely to secure decent tenure-track positions and become the next generation of professional philosophers -- who need to "understand Kant, how Kant led to Hegel, how (and hopefully why with respect to the 19th century) Hegel was finally suppressed in the "back to Kant" movement, how phenomenology and logical positivism pushed the neo-Kantian moment to its breaking point, and how contemporary philosophy is a reaction to the agonies and ecstasies of positivism and phenomenology." And we should figure out why understanding the discourse of these dead white men is going to help an increasingly pluralistic discipline avoid the mistakes of those dead white men.
I think the points raised here about the exclusion of non-traditionally-privileged voices from "the analytic/Continental divide" is well worth taking seriously. There's something to be said for teaching each other (and our students) to read (and write) across this divide, but all of the other philosophical styles and problematics must be included in order for us to get to a point where the very idea of "the analytic/Continental divide" is a thing of the past. That said, one way of getting the privileged voices both on the table and out of the way would be to focus on the debate on metaphysics in German philosophy in the 1930s. One could read (preferably in this order?) Heidegger's "What is Metaphysics?", Carnap's "The Overcoming of Metaphysics Through the Logical Analysis of Language" (which responds polemically and directly to Heidegger and has a lovely enconium to Nietzsche at the end), and then Horkheimer's "The Latest Attack on Metaphysics" (which is a polemical response to Carnap). That gives you three canonical texts, all historically (and personally) linked together. Once that's out of the way, one could move on to the stuff that's actually relevant to contemporary needs.
In addition to Hanna's Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy, his Embodied Minds in Action (co-authored with Maiesse) is a very nice book that (to borrow a well-known bon mot) binds the spirit of Merleau-Ponty in the fetters of Kripke.
In addition to the excellent books already mentioned, here are a few others: (1) Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World: The McDowell-Dreyfus Debate (ed. Joseph Schear); (2) pretty much anything by Richard Bernstein, but esp. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism and Praxis and Action; (3) Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics, Jay Bernstein -- Bernstein brings Adorno into conversation with, among others, Sellars, Brandom, and McDowell; (4) Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, ed. Smith and Thomasson. (5) Dialogues with Davidson (ed. Malpas) (6) How Scientific Practices Matter, Joe Rouse.
I won't pretend to claim how interesting a conversation between me and Stern would be, seeing as how I'm still a very junior scholar. But I'll definitely read his book! (For one thing, it should give me some further historical context for understanding why C. I. Lewis and Sellars both thought that positing a difference between perception and judgment was supposed to halt the slippery slope to "idealism," and why it would be a good thing to do so.)
I wouldn't say that my hope is that there will be enough "overlap" so as to undermine the analytic/Continental divide. Rather, my hope is that the very idea of a divide will be dissolved by embracing methodological pluralism about professional philosophy. ("Pluralism" is what pragmatists call "multiplicity".) As I see it -- here I'm thinking about Friedman's A Parting of the Ways and also Abraham Stone's outstanding paper on Carnap's criticism of Heidegger -- both Heidegger and Carnap function as the founding figures of Continental and analytic philosophy by excluding whatever is not "genuine philosophy" -- as not being "scientific" (Carnap) or as not really "thinking" (Heidegger). If we can appreciate methodological pluralism -- that both Carnap and Heidegger are themselves but two options among many -- then we won't be in the grip of "the analytic/Continental divide". Now, one result of that pluralism will be all sorts of new and interesting hybrids, like analytic neo-Hegelianism and Continental realism. Lately as I find more and more interesting material in the Continental realists that looks like the metaphysical side of Peirce, Dewey, and Lewis -- which the analytic pragmatists dispensed with, in keeping with their Carnapian scorn towards metaphysics -- I've been toying with the notion of a 'speculative pragmatism' (not directly connected with Rosenthal's book of the same title, though). But the hybridization is a consequence of the pluralism, and it's the pluralism that I'm hoping for, not a "melting pot".
That's very funny about the index to Dear Carnap, Dear Van! Yes, Lewis is getting more and more attention these days. In my present book project I have a chapter on Lewis, where I argue that his commitment to "the given" amounts to a version of Sellars's "Myth of the Given", but only if we interpret the latter slightly differently from how it has usually been understood. And I'll be presenting on the Lewis-Sellars relationship at both the Central and Pacific APAs this year.
I've been chasing after the Holy Grail of "non-scientistic naturalism" (NSN) for ten years or more, and every time I think I'm getting close -- with Nietzsche, Dewey, McDowell, Adorno, or Merleau-Ponty -- I lose my grip. Even after reading both of the De Caro and Macarthur volumes, I still can't tell how NSN counts as naturalism. I'm beginning to suspect that "scientism" is itself a problematic notion wherein "science" (or "technoscience") is blamed for the social and psychic ills produced by capitalism. And if that's anywhere near right, then the problem isn't to disentangle naturalism from "scientism," but to keep naturalism and scientific realism wedded together and disentangle those from their complicity with what capitalism does to technology. If reading Johnston will help me think through these problems, I will run -- not walk! -- to my on-line book purveyor.
That's very interesting about Johnston! I've read his article on McDowell, Cartwright, and Lacan -- it came out in Umbr(a): The Worst (2011) as "Second Natures in Dappled Worlds: John McDowell, Nancy Cartwright, and Hegelian-Lacanian Materialism." But I hadn't realized that he was going to continue that line of thought in his second volume.
That sounds like a very interesting session at the Pacific APA! I'll definitely stop by. In case you (or anyone else here is interested: The Wilfrid Sellars Society is doing Pacific APA panel on Hegel and idealism in the Sellarsian tradition. Paul Redding will be talking about Hegel's theory of perception in relation to McDowell and Sellars, Chauncey Maher will be talking about Rorty and the idea of the Pittsburgh School as a "tradition", and I'll be talking about why C. I. Lewis and Sellars both thought that positing nonconceptual content was necessary in order to avoid British-style 'absolute idealism' -- though Lewis stops at Kant and Sellars at Hegel.
There are several reasons to be excited about the resurgence of "Continental realism", not the least of which is that it promises to drive one more nail in the coffin of "the analytic/Continental divide". From my point of view, all the arguments against the Divide have had their day -- including many developed by peple here at NewAPPS -- yet the Divide has a tenacious grip on the sociology of the profession. For 2014 (and beyond), I'd like to see more conferences and workshops that undermine the grip of the Divide by taking an inter-traditional approach to shared philosophical concerns, such as whether moderate realism can be satisfactorily reconciled with moderate constructivism, the metaphysics of time and/or modality, differing approaches to the philosophy of cognitive science, the legacy of German Idealism, and so on. One way of going about the last would be to focus on Schelling in particular, because "the Pittsburgh School" (as they are called) does a really nice job of bringing insights from Fichte and Hegel into contemporary 'analytic' philosophy, but Schelling goes missing, whereas there is resurgence of serious interest in Schelling among 'Continental realists'. (And Schelling is also one of the hidden influences on 'classical', as distinct from 'analytic', pragmatism.)
My father is also dealing with Parkinson's, and watching him struggle has been emotionally difficult -- having this phenomenological description helps a good deal, I think, especially about depression and anxiety.
I would also point out that in the truly wretched science-fiction TV series "Andromeda", Sorbo played "Captain Hunt", among whose enemies were -- I kid you not -- "the Nietzscheans". Verily, the plot thickens!
This film has both Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain ("Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman")? This is the happiest day of my adolescence!
Personally, I'd like to know more about how exactly your view differs from Andrew Feenberg's, esp. with regard to his criticism of essentialism about technology and his distinction between "capitalist rationalization" and "democratic rationalization" (this is all in his "Questioning Technology" (1999), which I haven't read since grad school).
I apologize for going off-topic, but some of you might find this interesting: "Where Did the Word "Cognitive" Come From Anyway?" (Christopher Green, Dept. Psychology, York). Abstract: Cognitivism is the ascendant movement in psychology these days. It reaches from cognitive psychology into social psychology, personality, psychotherapy, development, and beyond. Few psychologists know the philosophical history of the term, "cognitive," and often use it as though it were completely synonymous with "psychological" or "mental." In this paper, I trace the origins of the term "cognitive" in the ethical theories of the early 20th century, and through the logical positivistic philosophy of science of this century's middle part. In both of these settings, "cognitive" referred not primarily to the psychological but, rather, to the truth-evaluable (i.e., those propositions about which one can say that they are either true or false). I argue that, strictly speaking, cognitivism differs from traditional mentalism in being the study of only those aspects of the mental that can be subjected to truth conditional analysis (or sufficiently similar "conditions of satisfaction"). This excludes traditionally troublesome aspects of the mental such as consciousness, qualia, and (the subjective aspects of) emotion. Although cognitive science has since grown to include the study of some of these phenomena, it is important to recognize that one of the original aims of the cognitivist movement was to re-introduce belief and desire into psychology, while still protecting it from the kinds of criticism that behaviorists had used to bring down full-blown mentalism at the beginning of the century.
I think that this gets at the problem pretty nicely -- a lot hinges on the distinction between metaphors and analogies. I have no doubt that there's been a huge amount of work on this distinction, but here's a crude pass at it: analogies are subject to explicit qualifications and constraints, whereas metaphors are not. So it would be analogical to say, "the brain is like a computer, insofar as it carries out functions that we recognize as computations, except that . . . " whereas metaphorical to say "the brain is like a computer". (One reason for thinking that "computer" is being used here metaphorically, rather than analogically, is the lack of precision in whether it is the brain or the mind that is like a computer.) As an aside, I wonder if there is a similar discussion in philosophy of biology about whether "the genetic code" is really a code -- does anyone know?
That was *really* good. Incisive, brilliant, eloquent.
This amused me a bit: "Ancient Greek philosophy is, or appears to be from our distant vantage point, self-contained, but American philosophy is not. In particular, such American philosophers as James and Dewey were influenced by European philosophers. In the case of Whitehead, the American Whitehead was strongly influenced by the European Whitehead." (John Lango, "Whitehead's Metaphysical System" in The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy, ed. Misak, 2008.)
Would Rorty count as a practitioner of this kind of ridicule? If so, then Jay Rosenberg's critique/polemic against Rorty ("Raiders of the Last Distinction") would also count.