What is Analytic Philosophy and why is it different from Continental Philosophy


What is Analytic Philosophy and why is it different from Continental Philosophy

In: Other

In the simplest sense, Analytic Philosophy is what they were doing in England and the United States (mostly) in the first half of the 20th century, and Continental Philosophy is what they were doing in Europe at the same time.

Wikipedia describes Analytic Philosophy as “characterized by an emphasis on language … and for its clarity and rigor in arguments, making use of formal logic and mathematics”. Some big names in Analytic Philosophy were Bertrand Russell, W.V.O. Quine, Karl Popper, Gottlob Frege (who was not English or American) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (who was also not English or American).

Regarding Continental Philosophy, Wikipedia notes “Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers.” Some big names are Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jacque Derrida, Michel Foucault.

Analytic philosophy tends to be more closely related to mathematics and the hard sciences, so much so that many of the foundational analytic philosophers like Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege were also mathematicians. As a branch of philosophy it often still involves traditional philosophical topics like ethics and political philosophy, but it does so with an emphasis on extreme logical rigor, making statements as clear and precise as possible, a general belief in reductionism (the idea that things can be understood as a sum of their parts), and when possible integrating scientific knowledge into philosophical thought.

Continental philosophy is perhaps more tied to fields like history and the soft sciences, though it’s hard to make specific comparisons because the term is used to refer to a very broad collection of ideas and philosophers. Often, though not always, continental philosophy is more skeptical of science as a catch-all tool for explaining reality. Often, though not always, continental philosophy places more of an emphasis on cultural and historical factors when considering philosophical ideas. Often, though not always, continental philosophers tend to be more concerned with and involved in politics. All sorts of different philosophers from Nietzsche to Marx are grouped together into this category, so again there aren’t many statements that apply in full generality to this branch of philosophy.

This is a more complicated question than it seems, but from my perspective it boils down to three big things: objects of inquiry, methods of inquiry, and core assumptions. Analytic philosophy has tended to be more interested in logical universals, using formal logical methods, and assumed that human experience (e.g, the body) is not philosophically relevant. Continental philosophy tends to be interested in human experience, using informal or inferential methods, and not assumed universals exist. Two major traditions you left out are Pragmatism and Eastern philosophy also have their own differences. This is a pretty superficial read but it will get you started. Source: am philosophy professor.