The Structure of the analytic/continental divide

Maximilian Noichl
CMP 2018

continuous vs. discontinuous


doesn't exist exists & is important doesn't exist anymore
analytical philosophy (Preston, 2004) (Beckermann, 2003; Engel, 1999) (Glendinning, 2002; May, 2002; Bieri, 2005)
continental philosophy (Glendinning, 2006) (Critchley, 2001)
the divide (Beckermann, 2003; Vanderbeeken, 2011; Engel, 1999) (Papineau, 2003; May, 2002; Williams, 1990)

Analytical Philosophy...

  • exists & is important: Mir scheint, dass man den Unterschied zwischen Analytischer und Kontinentaler Philosophie ganz anders fassen sollte, auch wenn dadurch den implizierten geographischen Bezügen sicher nicht mehr angemessen Rechnung getragen wird. Der Gegensatz zur Analytischen Philosophieauffassung scheint mir in einer Position zu bestehen, die leugnet, dass es in der Philosophie um Sachfragen geht. (Beckermann, 2003, p.11)

Analytical Philosophy...

  • doesn't exist Popular opinion, as we have seen, takes analytic philosophy to be a school of philosophy that now exists, and that traces its roots to the early twentieth century.[...] Now, what contemporary philosophers have found is that there is no feature [...] shared by all and only those philosophers who count as analysts on the loose and popular, or ordinary, conception of analytic philosophy. This is tantamount [...] to finding that there is nothing to which the ordinary conception of analytic philosophy corresponds. (Preston, 2004, p. 460)

Continental Philosophy...

  • exists & is important: [T]he notion of Continental philosophy can, indeed, be well defined and constitutes a distinct set of philosophical traditions and practices with a compelling range of problems all too often ignored or dismissed by the Anglo-American tradition. (Critchley, 2001, p. xii)

Continental Philosophy...

  • exists & is important: One might say that the gain of the Continental tradition is that it allows one to focus on the essentially historical nature of philosophy as a practice and the essentially historical nature of the philosopher who engages in this practice. This is the insight into what is usually called "historicity". (Critchley, 2001, p.62)

Continental Philosophy...

  • is less tightly woven: Rather, I am making the more modest claim that Continental philosophy is not woven together nearly as much by a common set of terms as Anglo-American philosophy is.
    (May, 2002 p. 421)

The Divide...

  • doesn't exist anymore: Perhaps we should abandon the distinction between Continental and Anglo-American philosophy, since it is a distinction without a difference, and join those who have begun to engage in an activity that draws indifferently from the two. What, then, shall we call this activity, an activity that is neither Anglo-American philosophy nor Continental philosophy? How about “philosophy”? (May, 2002 p. 425)

Proxy for academic tradition?

  • Textual similarity (E.g. Hobbs, 2014)
  • Social relations (E.g.: Collins 1989; Collins 1998)
  • Citation: direct, co-citation clustering, bibliographic coupling (see: Boyack & Klavans 2010)
  • Hybrid approaches (Ding et al. 2014)

Choosing a dataset

Mainstream Journals are not continental (Schwitzgebel, 2012). Therefore: Snowball-Sampling

Start with four journals:

  • Analysis
  • Mind
  • Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology
  • Continental Philosophy Review

... and get the most cited sources from the top 500 of each.

Top Philosophy Journals, Snowballsample get the top 500 papers of the top 30 Journals & and analyse citations...

Top Philosophy Authors


  • total papers: 14479
  • mean nr. of citations per paper: 13.1
  • std: 10.4

David Lewis is extremely popular (1003 citations)! No anomaly: Kieran Healy (2013) gets a similar result.


Similarity of two vectors A, B:
Kierkegaard Kripke Kant Kuhn
Paper no. 1 0 0 1 1
paper no. 2 1 0 1 0
paper no. 3 1 1 0 0



  1. starts at k random points
  2. finds the closest points for each
  3. computes medoid point
  4. ...repeat 2 & 3, until no more change occurs

Why k-medoids?

  • more stable than k-means
  • works better after PCA (Shafiei et al., 2007)
  • validation with Silhouette Scores (Rousseeuw, 1987)
choosing random points...
...finding nearest points...
...calculating medoids...
finding nearest points...
...calculating medoids... more change occurs!

Evaluation with Silhouette-Scores

Sensible k=13


  • Dimensionality-reduction-technique (van der Maaten & Hinton, 2008)
  • keeps close datapoints together, agnostic about large distances
  • scikit-learn (Predregosa et al., 2011)

A little reality check...

  • Kreuzman (2001): Similar project: Epistemology vs. Theory of Science
  • Different sampling strategy, different methodology (hierarchical agglomerative clustering & multidimensional scaling)

(Kreuzman 2014)

(Kreuzman 2014) colored by our clusters


Is this changing?





  • Larger Sample?
  • Multiple methods & cluster-equivalence
  • fine-grained temporal resolution


  • Bieri, P. (2005). Was bleibt von der Analytischen Philosophie, wenn die Dogmen gefallen sind? Einstein Forum.
  • Boyack, K. W., & Klavans, R. (2010). Co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, and direct citation: Which citation approach represents the research front most accurately? Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(12), 2389–2404.
  • Collins, R. (1989). Toward a Theory of Intellectual Change: The Social Causes of Philosophies. Science, Technology & Human Values, 14(2), 107–140.
  • Collins, Randall. (1998). The sociology of philosophies: a global theory of intellectual change. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Critchley, S. (2001). Continental philosophy: A very short introduction. OUP Oxford.
  • Ding, Y., Zhang, G., Chambers, T., Song, M., Wang, X., & Zhai, C. (2014). Content-based citation analysis: The next generation of citation analysis Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(9), 1820–1833.
  • Engel, P. (n.d.). Analytic Philosophy and Cognitive Norms, 13.
  • Glendinning, S. (2006). The idea of continental philosophy: a philosophical chronicle. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Vanderbeeken, R. (2011). A Plea for Agonism Between Analytic and Continental Philosophy. Open Journal of Philosophy, 01(01), 16–21.
  • Williams, B. (1990). Preface to the French translation of his Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. In L’éthique et les limites de la philosophie. Paris: Gallimard.