Pseudoscience and Continental Philosophy

Massimo Pigluicci in The Philosophers' Magazine:

Massimo_PigliucciI am a biologist and a philosopher of science, which puts me squarely into what in modern philosophical parlance is called the “analytic” tradition, tracing back to the works of Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore & co. at the beginning of the 20th century. The other major contemporary tradition is often referred to as “Continental,” because it originated with mostly French and German writers, arching back to Nietzsche, then Heidegger, all the way to Foucault and Derrida, just to mention a few.

Even though it is now fashionable to deny the split between analytic and Continental philosophy, it is plainly there for anyone who actually bothers to read the authors in question and their intellectual heirs. Despite some crossover, broadly speaking — and at the cost of a somewhat simplified summary — analytic philosophers tend to be very careful in their use of language and arguments, but also to write about increasingly less interesting minutiae. Continentalists, in contrast, display a marked preference for important social and political issues, yet also write in a more essayistic form, not infrequently getting lost into outright obfuscatory language.

I find this divide to be a highly unfortunate feature of the modern philosophical landscape, and one that at some point needs to be overcome (and, to be fair, a number of people have been trying). Ideally, philosophy ought to get back to its roots and concern itself with commenting clearly and compellingly (following the analytics) about things that actually matter (taking a hint from the Continentalists). Then again, one needs to be careful about wishing a particular offspring to come out of a given coupling. I am reminded of a quip by George Bernard Shaw: apparently, during a dinner party a young and attractive woman suggested marriage on the grounds that their children would have her beauty and his intelligence; to which he responded that it was also possible that they would inherit his beauty and her intelligence…

More here.