I saw this:

Why is Ayn Rand's Objectivism philosophy dismissed by academics? "However, her well-documented ideological struggle against Marxism undermines her own argument again here; the Marxist dialectic underpins the Continental approach to philosophy. If we are to take Rand's conclusions seriously, which is to say that if we take her particular anti-Marxism to be the point she is making, then she is using the Marxist dialectic to completely disavow Marxism, thus ending the dialectic."

So does this mean if one disagrees with or rejects Marxism in at least some way, e.g. rejects the notion of a "classless stateless society [a type of anarchy]" as the ultimate and best form of society for humanity, or reject the notion that the economic structure determines everything (economic determinism), or rejects the Marxist theory of social evolution, then the whole edifice of the Continental philosophy collapses? Its "social critique" element has not a leg to stand on? Can "Continental Philosophy" survive if one were to do at least one of:

  1. reject the notion of a "classless stateless society" as the best form of society, or as incompatible with human nature or otherwise unattainable,

  2. reject the notion that economics determines all other social structure,

  3. reject the progression tribe -> slave -> feudal -> capitalism -> socialism -> Communism evolutionary theory

? How much of Continental Philosophy remains if one applies one, two, or all three of the above rejections?


I am not too interested in wading into the Ayn Rand-related question, but in terms of "continental philosophy" and "marxism." I would say the following:

  1. There are several different continental philosophies that need not agree with each other.
  2. Some of these are Marxist in orientation or need Marxism in some sort of strong way.
  3. Most do not.

First, "continental philosophy" is a somewhat nebulous term. It's less clear than the counterpart term: "analytic philosophy." Analytic philosophy originally referred to an anti-metaphysical project that sought to reduce ("analyze") the problems we encounter by using language. It overlapped with some of what we now call "philosophy of language." Currently, that's not even an accurate definition of "analytic philosophy." This was also called Anglo-American philosophy.

The term "continental philosophy" refers either to (a) schools of thought traditionally done on the continent of Europe, (b) those who agreed with Heidegger after the Heidegger-Carnap debate, or (c) a style of doing philosophy that stands opposed to the reductionist project of the (classical) analytic school.

In usage (a), marxism is a continental philosophy, but so is Kantianism, Hegelianism, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Adorno, etc. On this definition, there's plenty of continental philosophy not done in a Marxist lens. In usage (b), it's also not especially marxist. Those who agreed with Heidegger became the phenomenological and hermeneutic schools of philosophy. Some of those people are coincidentally marxists. (c) has no necessary relation to marxism.

(There are schools of philosophy outside of these two from 20th century -- there's personalism, American philosophy (= pragmatism)).


It would help to understand what you mean by "continental philosophy". As far as my understanding goes, it is little more than a term that lumps together everything that's not analytical philosophy. So, it is easy to imagine that there is a lot of continental philosophy that does not rely on Marxism oder Marxist ideas. Examples are:

  • Heidegger's analysis of fundamental ontology is a critique of everything since Plato and is not concerned with Marx
  • Existentialists like Sartre and Camus rely a lot on Stirner and Heidegger; politically they considered themselves Marxists of different flavours but that did not influence their philosophies at the core
  • even the Frankfurt School--Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer and later Habermas--who develop a good bit of their ideas out of Marxist thinking do not really need Marxism (at least not in the narrow sense that is represented in your three rejections) for their analysis to work

The end of Continental philosophy--it's 'termination' or fulfilment point--is Marxism. World-wide, Marxism seems to have won (with the Frankfurt reinterpretation, of course). Talk about Eurocentric!

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