Nonfiction | June 01, 1984

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A few years ago philosophy was widely perceived (by non philosophers, of course) as having become an irredeemably irrelevant intellectual enterprise.  No longer a discipline with any semblance of unity, philosophy was conceived of quite differently in English speaking countries and on the continent.  The existence of this split led to the circulation of rather unflattering pictures of each philosophical traditon: on the one hand, Anglo-American philosophy was caricatured as a minute inquiry into grammatical subtleties that no one without such an analytical training can see the point of; on the other hand, Continental philosophy was caricatured as an ineffable and incomprehensilbe search to say what cannot be said. The analytical traditon produced trivial clarity; the Continental tradition produced profound nonsense.

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