Reconciling Continental and Analytic Philosophy

by Kieran Healy on July 1, 2006

Over at “the Valve”: John Holbo “has an epiphany”: upon reading the Author’s Note from Stephen Potter’s classic “Lifemanship”: (a kind of joke English Bourdieu _avant la lettre_, or vice versa, but that is for another day). Here’s the author’s note:

bq. I have reprinted these lectures more or less as they were delivered. I have not thought it worth while making the small alterations deemed necessary. Any inaccuracies or repetitions must be put down to the exigencies of the platform – to the essential difference between the Written Word, which is inscribed, and the Spoken Word, which is, essentially, speech.

John says: “I was rereading Derrida on “Plato’s Pharmakon”. And then beneath my eye happened to fall the Author’s Note … Imagine the crackle in my brain as I realize: that’s _all_ of Derrida, _right there_. ”

Imagine further, then, the corresponding crackle in _my_ brain. My immediate reaction upon reading John’s post was that Potter is eerily foreshadowing “a different Author’s Note”: provided by an author with a cult following in some ways not unlike Potter’s — or Derrida’s — own.

bq. In January of 1970, I gave three talks at Princeton University transcribed here. As the style of the transcript makes clear, I gave the talks without a written text, and, in fact, without notes. The present text is lightly edited from the _verbatim_ transcripts; an occasional passage has been added to expand the thought, but no attempt has been made to change the informal style of the original … I hope the reader will bear these facts in mind as he reads the text. Imagining it spoken, with proper pauses and emphases, may occasionally facilitate comprehension.

So, the content of Derrida, the style of Kripke, and both encapsulated in one note.



saul kripke 07.01.06 at 11:56 pm

Not necessarily.


Kenny Easwaran 07.02.06 at 1:39 am

I think you linked the wrong book there…

And Kripke’s still up to it – he published a paper recently, whose first footnote says:

Those familiar with some of my previous writings, especially my first book, will recognize that this paper is based on a transcription from tape. … The abstract following is due to David Harris, editorial assistant on this volume, with slight corrections by the author and S. Neale.

He also says

The truth is I don’t know (though maybe someone can tell me) whether famous papers—this shows my ignorance—as opposed to books, are in fact ever written in contemporary continental philosophy. I’ve heard of this or that famous book, but of no famous papers.

With a footnote that said “In the discussion, I believe someone said that there were some.”


Barry Freed 07.02.06 at 3:36 am

I forgot my umbrella today.


Barry Freed 07.02.06 at 3:36 am

I forgot my umbrella today.


Kieran Healy 07.02.06 at 7:36 am

I think you linked the wrong book there

Whoops, fixed.


Steven Poole 07.02.06 at 8:05 am

It’s kind of cute, but obviously that’s not all of Derrida, right there, if you’ve actually bothered to read much Derrida, as so many of his detractors haven’t. I don’t see, for example, how you can extrapolate The Work of Mourning from Lifemanship, brilliant as the latter is.


Kieran Healy 07.02.06 at 8:11 am

Better take it up with John H. …


Steven Poole 07.02.06 at 8:32 am

I doubt there’s much point. ;-)


Kieran Healy 07.02.06 at 9:25 am

Well, like I said, to me Potter’s note sounded more like Kripke than Derrida …


Seth Edenbaum 07.02.06 at 10:27 am

“So, the content of Derrida, the style of Kripke, and both encapsulated in one note.”



John Holbo 07.02.06 at 1:51 pm

Steven, I have made my reply ;-)


Steven Poole 07.02.06 at 2:53 pm

John, it’s a funny reply to someone who has accused you personally of not reading any Derrida, but I didn’t do that. :-)


John Holbo 07.02.06 at 8:18 pm

Oh, I didn’t take it that way. I just like a good challenge, when it comes to ‘counter-psychiatric’ ‘I have never been to Vladivostok’ play.


Laura 07.02.06 at 10:21 pm

“I was never in Vladivostok”


John Holbo 07.02.06 at 11:39 pm

I was just testing you, Laura.


engels 07.03.06 at 12:08 pm

The best parody of Kripke’s preface is on David Chalmers’ website.

This outline was prepared hastily — at the editor’s insistence — from a taped manuscript of a lecture. Since I was not even given the opportunity to revise the first draft before publication, I cannot be held responsible for any lacunae in the (published version of the) argument, or for any fallacious or garbled inferences resulting from faulty preparation of the typescript. Also, the argument now seems to me to have problems which I did not know when I wrote it, but which I can’t discuss here, and which are completely unrelated to any criticisms that have appeared in the literature (or that I have seen in manuscript); all such criticisms misconstrue my argument. It will be noted that the present version of the argument seems to presuppose the (intuitionistically unacceptable) law of double negation. But the argument can easily be reformulated in a way that avoids employing such an inference rule. I hope to expand on these matters further in a separate monograph.

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