Norris’ Epistemology Ch3.I

Book Discussion of Christopher Norris’ “Epistemology: Key Concepts in Philosophy”

Chapter 3: ‘Fog Over Channel, Continent Isolated’: Epistemology in the ‘Two Traditions’ – Section I.

That’s a funny title (said to be an old headline)-since the island is usually what would be considered isolated in that case. It illustrates the dismissive attitude (until recently) of analytics toward continentals. So this chapter is going to discuss how the ‘continental’ and ‘analytic’ traditions differ and overlap, though they were often considered to be distinct.

I need to get this out of the way: I am not famililiar with the word “pyrrhic” that Norris keeps using, but on Wikipedia, it is “a victory with devastating cost to the victor.” Perhaps some conclusions “give up” too much (like the conclusion that a dilemma is ‘insoluble’)? I’m glad I looked that up. Another word that keeps coming up is “rapprochement” which means “establishment of or state of having cordial relations” (like between the continental and analytic traditions). Good. Moving on.
This is a very short section.

Problems in logical positivism/empiricism are addressed with “great vigour and resourcefulness by continental thinkers, among them Edmund Husserl, Gaston Bachelard and Jacques Derrida.”

Signs of revaluation (though “premised on a narrow view of what counts as an adequate-‘analytically’ acceptable-approach” to epistemology/science issues):

–Dummett “looking afresh at the issue between Frege and Husserl as concerns the status of mathematical and logical truths”
–John McDowell (and other analytic revisionists) “recommend a return to certain Kantian insights, albeit through a highly selective (‘naturalized’ or ‘detranscendentalized’) reading of Kant.”

These ‘revaluations’ “still inherit something of the logical-empiricist prejudice against explaining both “structure” and “genesis” of knowledge, both “process of arrival” and standards for being able to say “we’ve arrived”. It was for want of these things that analytic philosophy “gave way” to “Quinean ‘ontological relativity’, Kuhnian paradigm-relativism, Richard Rorty’s far-out linguistic-constructivist creed, and the ‘strong’ programme in sociology of knowledge.”

Norris says we need to recognize “that these problems have arisen very largely in consequence of the artificial divide between developments in post-Kantian ‘continental’ and Anglophone ‘analytic’ thought.”

By the way, John McDowell was brought up by a critic of my Facebook poll (Ben Bessey)–he said McDowell was a quietest, and I said maybe that’s why I’d never heard of him. Heh

I’ve read as far as the first part of section IV. My brain is easily distracted, having recently exploded.

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