How rational can a polemic across the analytic -continental 'divide' be?

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In spite of the widespread belief that there is (or at least there was) a clearcut and deep opposition between two forms of philosophizing vaguely characterized as 'continental' and 'analytic', it is not easy to find actual examples of debates between philosophers that clearly belong to the opposed camps. Perhaps the reason is that, on the assumption that the alleged 'divide' is so deep, each side feels that there is no point in arguing against the other, for argumentation would quickly be replaced by invective. In this paper I analyse one of the few recent examples of an across-divide debate -the Searle -Derrida polemic. Using a threefold typology of debates, I try to show that, in spite of the violent and sarcastic tone employed by both contenders, there is enough common ground, questioning of not-argued-for assumptions, and serious argumentation (on both sides) to consider this debate more than just an irrational dispute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-339
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophical Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Argumentation
  • Contemporary philosophy
  • Controversy
  • Derrida
  • Dispute
  • Searle


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