Part of me wants to complain about bias and write an alternate version of this – a version where (the best of) Analytic philosophy represents sane, clear and clear-eyed realism and (the worst of) Continental is merely dense writing, sound and fury signifying nearly nothing.
But here’s what I hope is a better approach. My favorite philosopher of the 20th century was Bernard Williams. He was certainly British and steeped in the traditions of Oxford (where he was a student) and Cambridge (where he taught). But he doesn’t fit very well at all into the stereotypes of either Analytic or Continental philosophy. He spent much of his life demonstrating how thin and childish academic moral philosophy (of all flavors) was, and when he wrote a book on truth (a very Analytic topic), he used a methodology he derived in part from Nietzsche.
So my more positive contribution is this: I suspect that the best philosophy doesn’t fit neatly into either of the two categories this post describes.
There’s actually a lot of debate as to even if that particular dividing line makes lots of sense. For example, most people would consider Continental philosophy to be entirely idealist, but Deleuze was a materialist.
Yup. I’m more familiar with the (so-called) Analytic side, and nearly everyone I studied with wanted to disavow the label and/or significantly complicate the division.
Here’s another way to look at it: In my experience “Analytic” or “Continental” are labels you usually use of someone else, and only as an insult.