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Anyone have experience with this? The department that I am finishing my undergrad at has a predominantly analytic phil of sci focus, and I have heard of people going from continental departments to analytic ones, but not the opposite. I'm hoping to pursue HPS in grad school but things like Husserl's "The Crisis of European Sciences" tend to pique my interest more than like, idk, analytic discourse about scientific models, so I have applied to a few schools that tend towards the continental.

I also have a friend who is applying to schools that are as continental as ours is analytic, and I am just curious to see what insights y'all might have about this (I am not necessarily worried about the outcome so much as I am interested in the predicament. We live in a pretty analytic world, my dudes)

 

Edited by tuppert
inconsistent punctuation in title was annoying me
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You should seriously reconsider this decision. The job prospects for those with degrees from Continental programs are much worse than the job prospects for those from Analytic departments. All of the most prestigious programs in the Anglo-American world, most of those in northern Europe, and an increasing number of those in Germany are Analytic departments. Analytic philosophy is also quickly making headway in France and in Italy, and is already well-established in countries like Israel, Poland, etc. Don't hitch your wagon to a fading star, even if you like the way it shines.

Anyway, Analytic departments are far more open to students who want to dabble in Continental philosophy than Continental departments are open to students who want to do some Analytic philosophy (except inasmuch as the latter might like to publish trifling 'critiques' of Analytic philosophers). So if you want to maximize your prospects for success in academia, and want to do a bit of Continental philosophy at the same time, then you will be much better-off at an Analytic department.

 

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11 minutes ago, Coconuts&Chloroform said:

You should seriously reconsider this decision. The job prospects for those with degrees from Continental programs are much worse than the job prospects for those from Analytic departments. All of the most prestigious programs in the Anglo-American world, most of those in northern Europe, and an increasing number of those in Germany are Analytic departments. Analytic philosophy is also quickly making headway in France and in Italy, and is already well-established in countries like Israel, Poland, etc. Don't hitch your wagon to a fading star, even if you like the way it shines.

Anyway, Analytic departments are far more open to students who want to dabble in Continental philosophy than Continental departments are open to students who want to do some Analytic philosophy (except inasmuch as the latter might like to publish trifling 'critiques' of Analytic philosophers). So if you want to maximize your prospects for success in academia, and want to do a bit of Continental philosophy at the same time, then you will be much better-off at an Analytic department.

 

Hot take: the analytic/continental synthesis is neigh, and I will hedge my bets and my wagon on that diamond-in-the-rough, but thanks for the insight. Just wondering what others' experiences have been with making this sort of shift.

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I suppose it makes sense given the nature of this forum, but much of the discourse I see here suggests to me that philosophy has died in academia. Phrases like “continental philosophy”, “analytic philosophy”, “GPA”, “GRE”, “admissions committee”, and “writing sample” are employed in an almost mechanistic fashion, without their employers devoting even a modicum of thought to the life they are fashioning for themselves by so using them. Such a life is not a philosophical one, but rather a dogmatic and sophistic one.

Worse, their employment undermines any insights to be gleaned in philosophy by placing them within the margins of the incontestable dogmatisms of “continental philosophy” and “analytic philosophy”. I can only hope that the philosophers working in academia today are not quietly framing their inquiries in such terms.

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3 minutes ago, KantianSister said:

I suppose it makes sense given the nature of this forum, but much of the discourse I see here suggests to me that philosophy has died in academia. Phrases like “continental philosophy”, “analytic philosophy”, “GPA”, “GRE”, “admissions committee”, and “writing sample” are employed in an almost mechanistic fashion, without their employers devoting even a modicum of thought to the life they are fashioning for themselves by so using them. Such a life is not a philosophical one, but rather a dogmatic and sophistic one.

Worse, their employment undermines any insights to be gleaned in philosophy by placing them within the margins of the incontestable dogmatisms of “continental philosophy” and “analytic philosophy”. I can only hope that the philosophers working in academia today are not quietly framing their inquiries in such terms.

So, what you're saying is that you are afraid that there are philosophers out there employing the expressions 'GPA' and 'admissions committee'.

Edited by Coconuts&Chloroform
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6 minutes ago, KantianSister said:

I suppose it makes sense given the nature of this forum, but much of the discourse I see here suggests to me that philosophy has died in academia. Phrases like “continental philosophy”, “analytic philosophy”, “GPA”, “GRE”, “admissions committee”, and “writing sample” are employed in an almost mechanistic fashion, without their employers devoting even a modicum of thought to the life they are fashioning for themselves by so using them. Such a life is not a philosophical one, but rather a dogmatic and sophistic one.

Worse, their employment undermines any insights to be gleaned in philosophy by placing them within the margins of the incontestable dogmatisms of “continental philosophy” and “analytic philosophy”. I can only hope that the philosophers working in academia today are not quietly framing their inquiries in such terms.

Amen to that, sister! 😍 Also, love the use of the word mechanistic--you're speakin my language

Edited by tuppert
wordchoice compliment
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12 hours ago, KantianSister said:

I suppose it makes sense given the nature of this forum, but much of the discourse I see here suggests to me that philosophy has died in academia. Phrases like “continental philosophy”, “analytic philosophy”, “GPA”, “GRE”, “admissions committee”, and “writing sample” are employed in an almost mechanistic fashion, without their employers devoting even a modicum of thought to the life they are fashioning for themselves by so using them. Such a life is not a philosophical one, but rather a dogmatic and sophistic one.

Worse, their employment undermines any insights to be gleaned in philosophy by placing them within the margins of the incontestable dogmatisms of “continental philosophy” and “analytic philosophy”. I can only hope that the philosophers working in academia today are not quietly framing their inquiries in such terms.

For better or worse, the opportunity to do philosophy full-time takes place within certain economic, cultural, and institutional structures. If one wants to have that opportunity and one wants that opportunity to last, it's important to understand those structures and what you have to do exist within them. The willful dismissal of these structures is naive.

I happen to think the continental/analytic distinction is pretty philosophically useless. However, that is not to say that the distinction doesn't play and institutional and cultural role in academia. 

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I'll add that last year I applied to both analytic and continental departments from a very analytic phil MA program. I used a continental paper, and I got shut out (my paper topic may have been the mistake, I'm not sure). But, this being said, I had much more interest from analytic programs than continental ones. I think coming from an analytic department makes it quite difficult to get into continental departments. To me, it seemed like my application was a non-starter for all of the continental departments I applied to, while at least in the analytic departments I got waitlisted. Good luck, OP!

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20 hours ago, tuppert said:

Anyone have experience with this? The department that I am finishing my undergrad at has a predominantly analytic phil of sci focus, and I have heard of people going from continental departments to analytic ones, but not the opposite. I'm hoping to pursue HPS in grad school but things like Husserl's "The Crisis of European Sciences" tend to pique my interest more than like, idk, analytic discourse about scientific models, so I have applied to a few schools that tend towards the continental.

I also have a friend who is applying to schools that are as continental as ours is analytic, and I am just curious to see what insights y'all might have about this (I am not necessarily worried about the outcome so much as I am interested in the predicament. We live in a pretty analytic world, my dudes)

 

My suggestion to you is to situate yourself in a pluralist department, like e.g. Northwestern. There you will both be in a better situation pragmatically, and you will still be able to pursue your interests. 

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20 hours ago, tuppert said:

Hot take: the analytic/continental synthesis is neigh, and I will hedge my bets and my wagon on that diamond-in-the-rough, but thanks for the insight. Just wondering what others' experiences have been with making this sort of shift.

You know, funnily enough, it seems mainly to be Continental philosophers who say something like this. Analytics seem much more likely to want to distinguish between what they are doing and what is being done in Continental departments...

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Programs that have a lot of continental philosophy also tend to have a lot of coursework in the history of philosophy in my experience, I think that might be an honest difference between a lot of "analytic" vs. "continental" programs (trying to avoid  talk about the divide etc.). Of course there are exceptions! A HPS program is going to have history. Obviously. If you were to study Husserl in a cont. program, your class might have a historical approach that follows the transformations in his thought rather than something like an evaluative approach. (Okay I made that phrase up, just trying to say that reading Husserl in a continental program probably won't involve evaluating the viability of his arguments.)

I think continental programs tend to be pluralistic departments, because they learned awhile ago that "pluralize or die" were their only options (again, anecdotal experience here, I don't have data). (Probably no one would get a job who can only talk about Adorno.) Again, there are exceptions, but a lot of the programs are pluralistic.

As for hiring prospects between analytic and continental departments, here's a report from a couple years ago. Continental programs show up a little higher than you might expect on placement rates (but uhh, they don't show up too high).

Edited by Olórin
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On 1/26/2020 at 7:00 AM, Glasperlenspieler said:

For better or worse, the opportunity to do philosophy full-time takes place within certain economic, cultural, and institutional structures. If one wants to have that opportunity and one wants that opportunity to last, it's important to understand those structures and what you have to do exist within them. The willful dismissal of these structures is naive.

I happen to think the continental/analytic distinction is pretty philosophically useless. However, that is not to say that the distinction doesn't play and institutional and cultural role in academia. 

I agree, but I think there is a difference between willfully dismissing the context of our times and just getting fed up with structural/administrative necessities that, post hoc, become presuppositions within the community. Sometimes, ya just wanna go "Really?" at the way that some people interact with philosophy

 

On 1/26/2020 at 7:13 AM, Quaaliaa said:

I'll add that last year I applied to both analytic and continental departments from a very analytic phil MA program. I used a continental paper, and I got shut out (my paper topic may have been the mistake, I'm not sure). But, this being said, I had much more interest from analytic programs than continental ones. I think coming from an analytic department makes it quite difficult to get into continental departments. To me, it seemed like my application was a non-starter for all of the continental departments I applied to, while at least in the analytic departments I got waitlisted. Good luck, OP!

That's really interesting, I wish they had told you why! imo the analytic/continental distinction maps on pretty well to William James' tough-minded/tender-minded distinction, so I wonder if continental departments are wary of admitting students who seem too "tough-minded"/possessing too much of an analytic mindset to fully engage with the material

On 1/26/2020 at 1:45 PM, Estudiante Graduado said:

My suggestion to you is to situate yourself in a pluralist department, like e.g. Northwestern. There you will both be in a better situation pragmatically, and you will still be able to pursue your interests. 

That makes sense to me--thank you for the advice :) 

12 hours ago, Olórin said:

Programs that have a lot of continental philosophy also tend to have a lot of coursework in the history of philosophy in my experience, I think that might be an honest difference between a lot of "analytic" vs. "continental" programs (trying to avoid  talk about the divide etc.). Of course there are exceptions! A HPS program is going to have history. Obviously. If you were to study Husserl in a cont. program, your class might have a historical approach that follows the transformations in his thought rather than something like an evaluative approach. (Okay I made that phrase up, just trying to say that reading Husserl in a continental program probably won't involve evaluating the viability of his arguments.)

I think continental programs tend to be pluralistic departments, because they learned awhile ago that "pluralize or die" were their only options (again, anecdotal experience here, I don't have data). (Probably no one would get a job who can only talk about Adorno.) Again, there are exceptions, but a lot of the programs are pluralistic.

As for hiring prospects between analytic and continental departments, here's a report from a couple years ago. Continental programs show up a little higher than you might expect on placement rates (but uhh, they don't show up too high).

hahaha, I see what you mean with Husserl thing, I can imagine an "analytic" department taking an "evaluative approach" to his work. The "pluralize or die" thing also makes sense. very helpful insights!

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On 1/25/2020 at 4:53 PM, Coconuts&Chloroform said:

You should seriously reconsider this decision. The job prospects for those with degrees from Continental programs are much worse than the job prospects for those from Analytic departments. All of the most prestigious programs in the Anglo-American world, most of those in northern Europe, and an increasing number of those in Germany are Analytic departments. Analytic philosophy is also quickly making headway in France and in Italy, and is already well-established in countries like Israel, Poland, etc. Don't hitch your wagon to a fading star, even if you like the way it shines.

I'm not sure this is right. PhD prestige is a huge factor on the job market, to be sure, and I agree that "analytic" departments are more prestigious, on the whole, than most continental programs.

That said, (1) the prestige hierarchy for analytic departments is not a rank ordering, and once you get past a double fistful of departments it really starts to lose its effect (or seems to), (2) prestige's largest contribution seems to be towards hiring in research-oriented departments with a PhD program (which is to say, if your PhD is from too low down the rankings--and "too low" is surprisingly high!--then you're effectively shut out), and (3) continental philosophy has its own prestige hierarchy with a narrower band of schools from a wider tranche of the PGR/non-PGR.

So anyway. I just wanted to chime in and note that your job prospects are not necessarily better by staying in analytic philosophy. They're better (in some respects) if you're at Princeton, Pittsburgh, Harvard, or MIT, but I'm not convinced you're better off at, say, CUNY or Notre Dame than at DePaul or Emory. Remember that analytic subfields are glutted with people; so is continental philosophy, but it's an open question where the glut is worse. I'm not convinced, for example, that your overall job prospects as a meta-ethicist aremuch better than as a specialist in phenomenology. The job markets for those subfields seem to be pretty separate--so, e.g., the meta-ethicist probably has a better shot at PGR departments (although the odds are still really, really low), whereas the phenomenologist probably has a better shot at community colleges and teaching-focused departments (although again, the odds are still quite low).

In the end, let's be real: you probably won't get a TT job anyway. And the difference between a .01% chance and .05% chance is not actually all that big even if it looks like it at first glance (neither one adds up to a job after 500 applications!). I don't think that's an accurate representation of your actual chances, but I think it gives you a better idea of how things work out. We're really splitting hairs, and it's not worth your time and energy to try to game the job market. It's not the sort of thing that's amenable to gaming, there are too many other factors in play, and they're too volatile. And there just aren't enough jobs, period. Frankly, philosophy is a fading star to begin with, just because of the state of the market. Trust me, I've been on it for years.

Just aim for the best program that fits your interests, and if you want a decent chance on the market, aim for working with the most famous advisor you can find. After that, it's a roll of the dice. Don't come out expecting (or even hoping) for an academic job: come out of the program applying for them, and applying for interesting non-academic work, too. Cultivate your non-academic options throughout grad school. You'll almost certainly need them.

Edited by maxhgns
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  • 3 months later...

Hey! Bumping this thread because I'm in the exact opposite situation! The best offer I received was from a department that is more analytically-inclined, although like some other posters I think this distinction is fading. If you think it is not, that's fine, but over the past three decades that seems to be the trend. Many so-called continental philosophers take a considerable interest in Wilfred Sellers, Saul Kripke, Paul Churchland, Patricia Churchland, etc. Many so-called analytic philosophers have looked at Hegel or even Foucault and Deleuze in a different light. The distinction is collapsing under its own weight as it rightfully should, because it's a distinction for nerds. Many continentals feel that there's a counter-productive reflexive anti-modernism and scientific skepticism in their subfield, and many analytics feel that their own subfield has unfairly poo-poo'd 20th century German and French theorists (and perhaps poor translations have contributed to this problem).

So, for me, I think attending a more analytically-inclined department couldn't hurt, because I can't see how maintaining an outdated distinction is beneficial. I'm not interested in being a partisan in superficial, clownish, and thoroughly boring academic nitpicking. I'm interested in studying philosophy, not cafeteria lunch table cliques. Additionally, the program will have courses on Foucault and Kant this Fall. Nevertheless, I'd love to hear from anyone else who has had the experience of going from a continental undergrad to an analytic M.A./PhD. For what it's worth, I would like to apply to pluralist departments for my PhD (UC Riverside, Northwestern, etc.).

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To add to what @you'll_never_get_to_heaven said, if you have very distinct interests and it pigeonholes you in the department, this could work in your favor. All the faculty will know who you are, because you're that guy. All the grad students will give you an opportunity to be the butt of jokes and take it with grace or respond with wit. When opportunities arise for your interests, they will tend to get forwarded to you. The opportunities would be there, but you've got to have the right personality and character to make the best of them.

Edited by Duns Eith
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  • 2 months later...

I am at a heavy continental program. We have a number of people who went to predominantly analytic departments (Harvard, one of the UC schools, Amherst). As long as you are interested in the field, and you have a solid background, you should be fine. There are very few people that go into programs already "experts" on Husserl. Unlike, say, Kant or ancient philosophy, you probably won't need to have a strong background in Husserl to be successful.

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My undergrad degree was in analytic philosophy, my MA was in a music department (at an analytic-ish school), and I got an MA in a very heavy continental program and now I’m at a heavy duty continental PhD. I’d certainly agree with @HomoLudens: they care more about expressed interest, a general background in philosophy writ large, and potential than they do about expertise.

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On 7/25/2020 at 1:03 PM, SmugSnugInARug said:

My undergrad degree was in analytic philosophy, my MA was in a music department (at an analytic-ish school), and I got an MA in a very heavy continental program and now I’m at a heavy duty continental PhD. I’d certainly agree with @HomoLudens: they care more about expressed interest, a general background in philosophy writ large, and potential than they do about expertise.

Yeah, your background is sort of proof that having a passion for the material (as opposed to any specific trainging) is key. Though, not everyone is as heavy duty continental as you, Sparks 😜

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  • 1 month later...

I'd like to come back to this after my second week of graduate studies.

(1) research interests =/= teaching interests. You might find that someone who did their dissertation on the history of early analytic philosophy is ready and willing to, for example, teach a course on Heidegger. They might even find it to be refreshing!

(2) the analytic/continental divide is far more rigid some places than others, perhaps where people have an ax to grind. But I think it's a rather tiresome debate for some, and for others it really just reflects what they had the opportunity to read. Sometimes it's simply that someone has no experience in X, rather than being opposed to it.

(3) it can be really enriching to enter a department of one sort from one of a different sort. You can quickly learn what it is you understand well and what you understand poorly, and how to communicate what you know to someone with a very different background.

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