Cogito ergo I am right #11: Existentialism and Continental Philosophy

By Amateur Philosopher Penny Ham

If any of you are familiar with the continental and analytic divide in philosophy, then you probably know by now that analytic philosophy is the shit. No wonder so many continental philosophers are so opposed to analytic philosophy – they naturally hate what they do not understand. Continental philosophers and existentialists like to ramble on about empirically unverifiable terms all day. For instance, I was thinking just a little while ago about purpose and other such existential/continental philosophy themes. But then I realized that the proposition “I have created my own purpose” is meaningless since there are no possible state of affairs where such a statement can be empirically falsified or empirically verified. So obviously to ask “do I have purpose?” is seeking meaningless answers. But maybe if you think of purpose as a kind emergent state of physical processes, then maybe we’re getting somewhere. As long as we can give a good physicalist description of each existential term that we use, progress can be made.

In the mean time, however, why should we be concerned by such meaningless things as existentialism when discussing the notion of free will or determinism? The answer is that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with existentialism since it’s a waste of time. We needn’t look any further than W.V.O Quine’s statement: “all philosophy is philosophy of science.” Does purpose, despair, human futility have anything to do with that? No. Therefore, such discussions of existential terms, unless they’re explained and defined in terms of a physicalist description, can only be called “literature” and not philosophy. Poor literature if you ask me.

Existentialists and continental philosophers would really solve a lot of their own problems if they just used symbolic logic. I think one thing that makes me happier more than anything is to think of a world in which everything can be explained symbolic logically. Like I could just go through a modus ponens-like proof and deduce everything I so desire. That would be awesome. Also, in this world, every city is built with a Cartesian coordinate plane set up. In this world, when you ask set-theoretically, where to find the mall, a person could tell you the (x,y) coordinates in set-theoretical terms. Also streets wouldn’t have names, they would just have a function description like “f(x) = 5.” Do you know how cool that would be?

What’s more, in this ideal analytic philosophy world the President’s inaugural address should contain some symbolic demonstrative proof of something. Cars would run on books written by continental/existential philosophers (this would solve the oil depletion problem). The existential/continental philosophy books would be used not because the books were prohibited from being read by people in that society but because people in that society couldn’t find any other use for them. They deserve some use, right? In fact, continental philosophers would benefit greatly from having their books used as fuel. That way they’re all happy and despairing.

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5 thoughts on “Cogito ergo I am right #11: Existentialism and Continental Philosophy

  1. Wow, this is so grotesquely hyperbolic it doesn’t even suffice as a critical assessment of Continental philosophy and their methods, nor contribute anything whatsoever even to understanding what analytic philosophy is–as if positivism was even still around or that physicalism is somehow an uncontroversial position that requires no argumentation. You don’t get that for free, nor can we assume a body of conclusions from Quine without argumentation either.

    • Yeah, all I see in that paragraph are some meaningless terms way too underdetermined by experience. Come back when you see that physicalism is the only logical alternative. If you can’t see that all philosophy is philosophy of science, then continue to write your poetry in peace. I’ll be concerning myself with real philosophy – the naturalistic worldview – the only true view. Burn!

    • Finally, a proposition that is not meaningless. A statement that can be more easily confirmed or falsified by experience. Unfortunately, it is terribly false. But at least it is a meaningful proposition.

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