Tuesday, February 28, 2012
John McCumber on the past and future of academic philosophy.
Science is not geared toward informing us about ourselves as essentially temporal beings and should not be twisted around to do so.

Nowhere is this fact more obvious than in the case of American philosophy. Its attempt to eb rigorously scientific, foisted on it during the McCarthy era, resulted in a situation in which virtually all American philosophers were sadly ignorant of the real condition of their own profession and of the political events and forces that had shaped it. A greater turn from the Delphic maxim γνῶθι σεαυτόν, "know thyself," could hardly be imagined.

The work of Hegel and Heidegger, and of their followers, has begun to remedy this situation. It expands the repertoire of rationality beyond the truth-based model of thesis and argument, in which analytical philosophy specializes, to encompass the techniques of narrative and demarcation. With this we have the tools to clarify the general features of our situation, which means connecting it to the past and opening up its essential future.

To think of the future of philosophy along such lines is to think of an almost unimaginable amount of work. If we are going to connect philosophy's words to their past, for example, the main philosophical languages must be learned, along with the standard techniques of logic. Analytical and continental philosophy must, in this, definitively come back together, because continental philosophy, in its Hegelian and Heideggerean dispensations, respectively, responds to the past and the future - and the past and the future cannot be connected except through the present, that is, through the truth-oriented techniques of analytical philosophy.

P. 166
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