Harman on the up/down-sides to continental philosophy


…there will be an upside and a downside just as with every choice in life. The upside is that you’re likely to take a longer historical perspective and not become bewitched by the transient, chiselling fashions of Leiter-ranked university departments, nor will you be so chipper and facile about hunting for “bad arguments” in authors such as Plato and Leibniz. The downside is that you’ll tend to view great works of philosophy as existing on a plane far above that of normal human Ph.D.’s, and as a result you may become depressed about your own ability to make a real contribution to the field, and thus you may begin to do purely historical work (which certainly has its place, but continental philosophy has often lost all sight of the distinction between historical and systematic work).

Welp, that’s certainly the case for myself. I wish to be as original and ground-breaking as any Plato, etc. but what are the actual chances I am? Pretty slim. Certainly the chances that I hit that target on the first shot, as it were, are almost impossible. I’m just not that good.