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A Companion to Continental Philosophy [Hardcover]

Simon Critchley , William R. Schroeder
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 8 1998 0631190139 978-0631190134
Covering the complete development of post-Kantian Continental philosophy, this volume serves as an essential reference work for philosophers and those engaged in the many disciplines that are integrally related to Continental and European Philosophy.

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"This anthology makes an important contribution to the study of Continental philosophy in English-speaking countries, tracing its roots back to attempts to overcome Kantian and neo-Kantian philosophy. These articles are concise summaries and are accessible to nonspecialists while still interesting to specialists. Recommended for upper-division graduates, graduate students, and faculty." Choice

"The chapters on individual writers discuss the major works, ideas and achievements of their subject. The accounts are clear, informative and appear to be very even handed in the discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the philosophers." Philosophy and Religion

Review

"This anthology makes an important contribution to the study of Continental philosophy in English-speaking countries, tracing its roots back to attempts to overcome Kantian and neo-Kantian philosophy. These articles are concise summaries and are accessible to nonspecialists while still interesting to specialists. Recommended for upper-division graduates, graduate students, and faculty." Choice

"The chapters on individual writers discuss the major works, ideas and achievements of their subject. The accounts are clear, informative and appear to be very even handed in the discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the philosophers." Philosophy and Religion


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Usually, the history of philosophy in the first two decades after the publication of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of Pure Reason) in May 1781 is seen as little more than commentary upon and criticism of Kant's classic text. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not much use Oct. 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Readers looking for a comprehensive introduction to or reference work about Continental philosophy will be disappointed. The essays collected here were, in most cases, obviously not written with inclusion in this volume in mind. One suspects that most of the writers fished their "contributions" from the drawer to which they had consigned otherwise unpublishable work. Most of the articles deal only with a single arcane interpretive point, belying their sweeping titles ("Kant," "Schelling," etc.) Many, the non-initiate suspects, are in fact byzantinely-phrased polemics against rival scholars. For a clearly-written, synoptically interpretive, and unpretentiously thoughtful overview of the topics purportedly addressed in the Critchley-Schroeder volume, see David West's Introduction to Continental Philosophy.
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Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Survey of Continental Thought April 14 2007
By Mark Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The previous reviews of this book have focused on the uneven quality of the articles and the inaccessibility of many of the articles for beginners. One must note, however, that any compilation of articles by different authors will be of uneven quality and accessibility: this is a necessary if unfortunate characteristic of all "companion" series--Cambridge as well as Blackwell.

I would not regard the book as a whole as an introduction to Continental philosophy. Its value lies elsewhere. First of all, Simon Critchley's introduction alone is worth the price of the volume. Here he provides one of the ablest discussion I've read of the distinction between Analytic and Continental philosophy, and he challenges many common understandings of this distinction.

Second, the mere listing of Continental philosophers--as well as their groupings into various schools--is very helpful. Although this seems elementary, I know of no other work with a "who's who" listing as comprehensive as this one.

Third, the bibliographical material at the end of each article points the reader both to the major works in the corpus of each author and to further secondary reading. It is true that some of the bibliographies are more helpful than others, but this is an unavoidable limitation of a text of this kind.

Finally, even if the articles themselves are not always introductory, most of them are worth reading either because the author is a renowned scholar of that particular philosopher or because the author provides a provocative view of the philosopher. For instance, if I had never read Marx I would not go to Michel Henry's essay in this volume for an introduction. But Michel Henry's thought on Marx is of incredible interest in itself; Henry, who lately passed away, is a rising star of the phenomenological world and will surely be remembered as one of the greatest French philosophers of the twentieth century.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blackwell wasn't thinking July 17 2005
By Felix Sonderkammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What the editors thought they were doing when they actually put this book together is impossible to comprehend. While I have only so far read the first 100 pages (which are on German idealism), I have noticed large disparities among the articles.

Some (introduction, Beiser's chapter on the context of post-Kantian philosophy, and Houlgate's chapter on Hegel) were written as accessible introductions. They are excellent for what they are.

Others, such as the chapter on Kant, are involved treatments of particular questions that are of little use to the kind of person who reads this book. It is obvious that Pippin's essay on Kant was only included because of who Pippin is, not because the essay will introduce people to Kant. The essay, in fact, deals with Hegel's reading of Kant's Critique of Judgment. While it suggests that a good case can be made for showing that Kant abandoned his own earlier critical philosophy for something more "Hegelian," anything further is simply not possible to glean from the text without having read the works with which Pippin deals. If one has read enough to appreciate this chapter, one will not read this book. This should have been obvious!

Still other chapters were obviously written first in German or French and clumsily translated (Siep, Behler, and Courtine on Fichte, Schelgel/Novalis, and Schelling, respectively). Literally translated German idioms cannot fool some of us, and can't be understood by the rest of us who are fooled. This is notable in "gives us to understand" in Siep's or Behler's chapter (I forget which it is), which is really "gibt uns zu verstehen." Come on, people! The first two chapters make some effort to introduce the authors, but the Schelling chapter deals only with one aspect of Schelling's early thought. Why call the chapter "Schelling," then?!

Did these authors really expect the reader to go through these chapters and learn something? If so, what did they expect the reader to learn? The truth must be that the editors did not think of this. They threw together whatever they could find by famous and well-published scholars. This is more like a beauty pageant of the authors than a serious introduction to Continental philosophy. It certainly cannot pass as a reference work, either (just what is a "companion to X" supposed to be, anyway?).

I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to read the rest of this book. To Blackwell I say, just scrap this and start over.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An encyclopedic-style reference work of uneven quality July 21 2004
By Oran Magal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is worthwhile first to clarify the nature of this book. It is a more or less chronologically-ordered overview of the life and work of key figures in the so-called continental tradition of philosophy, starting with historical figures such as Kant and including contemporary (or recently demised) figures such as the post-structuralists (Deleuze, Derrida) and others (Lyotard, Althousser etc.).

Each enrty is about 10 pages long, and is meant to provide a brief overview of the life and works of the philosopher in question. In some of the cases, the result cannot but be absurd: how can one summarize Kant or Hegel in 10 pages? However, one must bear in mind that this book is not meant to serve as an introduction to Continental Philosophy. Rather, its purpose is to enable one to quickly acquaint oneself with certain philosophers one comes across in one's studies, without necessarily having to read book-length introductions to their work. Thus, based on the brief review, one can decide whether one is interested in further reading on the philosopher (which is provided for each entry) or not.

The real problem is that the quality and style of the entries are uneven. Some of the entries are excellent and very helpful, such as those on Paul Ricoeur and Hans G. Gadamer. Others are simply examples of poor workmanship untypical of Blackwell Publishing books. Yet others are simply illegible: for example, the entries on Deleuze and Derrida are written in the same difficult style which characterizes the works of those two thinkers themselves. If this writing is meant as a brief introduction to those unfamiliar with the works (and therefore the style) of this sort, it is completely useless.

In short, I would not recommend buying the book; For the few helpful entries, it really isn't worth the price. There are better introdutions to Continental Philosophy. For complete beginners, I'd start with Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction and follow the bibliographical references from there.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not much use Oct. 4 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Readers looking for a comprehensive introduction to or reference work about Continental philosophy will be disappointed. The essays collected here were, in most cases, obviously not written with inclusion in this volume in mind. One suspects that most of the writers fished their "contributions" from the drawer to which they had consigned otherwise unpublishable work. Most of the articles deal only with a single arcane interpretive point, belying their sweeping titles ("Kant," "Schelling," etc.) Many, the non-initiate suspects, are in fact byzantinely-phrased polemics against rival scholars. For a clearly-written, synoptically interpretive, and unpretentiously thoughtful overview of the topics purportedly addressed in the Critchley-Schroeder volume, see David West's Introduction to Continental Philosophy.
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