Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

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Puritanboard Amanuensis
Critchley, Simon. Oxford.

What is Continental Philosophy? While we all grant it is a misleading question, it is a recognizable one. It is a tradition that reflects upon the solutions and problems of post-Kantian idealism through and up to Heidegger.

Thesis: Contemporary philosophy faces the problem of the gap between wisdom and knowledge. Continental philosophy at its best tries to integrate theory and praxis. Indeed, at the heart of the book is Critchley’s argument that philosophy post-Kant worked around “praxis, critique, and emancipation.”

Continental philosophers approach problems textually and contextually (56). These texts are characterized by strong historical self-consciousness. These texts are also embedded and distanced (59).

The historicity of philosophy implies radical finitude of the human subject and contingent character of human experience (62). The createdness means that re-creation is possible, so philosophers try to emancipate themselves from situations that are not conducive to human experience. Critique is a critique of existing praxis in order to be emancipatory.

The book ends with some possible suggestions for doing Continental Philosophy in a way that doesn’t fall into the standard Conty vs. Analytic debates. Philosophers like Charles Taylor (and I would add, Alexander Dugin and Alain de Benoist) are doing Continental Philosophy but not necessarily in the same patterns.

Some Criticisms

a) While most of the photographs in the book were well-placed, illuminating, and contributed to the narrative, some were just vulgar, and it wasn’t clear how they contributed to the text (like Muhl).
b) How do they account for consciousness after Heidegger? Did Heidegger account for it?
c) Don't many of them still depend on Freud's debunked notions?
d) To the degree that most Continentals today hold to a coherentist view of knowledge, can they escape the defeaters lodged against coherentism?
e) Why do most Continental proposals for praxis sound like Marxism 3.0?
f) Why did Amazon take down all books by Aleksandr Dugin?
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