Would it be correct to affirm that what has been called Continental philosophy (existentialism: Kierkeggard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Sartre; phenomenology: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty; vitalism: Bergson; postmodernism: Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze) tends to be a continuation of metaphysics, while what has been called Analytic philosophy (logic-positivism: Carnap, Russell; Quine, etc.) tends to be a departure from it?

NB: This question differs from this one, in the extent that it considers continental philosophy in general, and analytic philosophy in general (not only their early days).

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    Curious about the motive for question?
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 26, 2023 at 12:12
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    I think there is plenty of analytical metaphysics. Take Jordan Sobel's "Logic and Theism" - I would say it is analytic since it uses logic, and about metaphysics since it examines arguments for and against god, which is usually a topic in metaphysics. It's only one example, but there are many others.
    – Frank
    Mar 26, 2023 at 13:21
  • @Frank Edited, thanks
    – Starckman
    Mar 26, 2023 at 14:45
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    No. Both of them departed from metaphysics, in a continuation of Kant's critique (Husserl, Wittgenstein), and then came back to it, but with different understandings of what metaphysics is meant to accomplish. Continental philosophy embraced bold speculation with grand implications (Deleuze, Badiou, Meillassoux), and analytic philosophy the more pragmatic aspect of carefully devising a picture of the world consistent with science (Sellars, Putnam, McDowell).
    – Conifold
    Mar 26, 2023 at 19:50
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    @ScottRowe This question is in continuation of this one philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/98236/…
    – Starckman
    Mar 27, 2023 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


There are philosophers in both traditions that have looked at metaphysical issues (David Lewis, Saul Kripke in the analytic tradition, for example). There are also philosophers in both traditions who have looked at other issues (Walter Benjamin and Foucalt are famous continental epistemologists).

In addition, most philosophers contribute more broadly than that. Husserl's major contributions involved epistemological and metaphilosophical contributions, including the phenomenological method itself. Kierkegaard's works have strong ethical implications and questions, especially with regards to Christian morality.

Similarly, even if we stick to the hardcore analytics of Wittgenstein and Russell, we get metaphysical discussions of things like logical atomism.

It seems unlikely that there was a tendency when Continental Philosophy went towards metaphysics and analytical philosophy didn't.

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