It appears that Western philosophical thought is plagued by a constant dichotomy in basically every issue. Due to my philosophical focus in school this is what I will be looking at with more detail and ever-so-slightly more knowledge.
These two lines of philosophical thought are far, far from being clear-cut like I am hoping to draw out here but I think that this is an undefined undercurrent that can be found within philosophical though. These two branches are the Rationalist (not necessarily in any usual philosophical sense of the term) and then a group that is much harder to name. I want to use Reasonable just for entertainment and to be confusing but that is not the best term for this other line, for now I’ll just call it the Other for clarity.
So, these two branches, the Rationalist and the Other branch. I want to put down a really quick sketch of the thinkers and how I categorize some of them. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas (pretty much all famous early Christian theologians to my knowledge), Descartes and Kant are all members of the Rationalist branch. See why that name works so well for this group? They really strongly push for logic and trying to make everything as clear-cut as possible and try to argue for some sort of bigger thing out in the universe which is truth, justice, God…etc. etc. These are the people who try to figure out what are the underlying laws in nature and the universe. If you know the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this idea of underlying laws/forms is known to you.
The Other branch has Xenophon, Emerson, Nietzsche in my opinion, due to my philosophical training those are some of the only writers I have studied well enough to feel pretty sure about my placement. This Other branch appears to focus more on how to live as a person, not the universal laws of nature or anything to that affect, just how to actually live a life worth living, remembering, enjoying.
These two branches seem to float through the entire history of Western thought, at least in my limited knowledge of philosophical and legal traditions. Yet I have only run into one professor who seemed willing to acknowledge this dichotomy directly. The rest of the professors I’ve had seem to simply want to focus on the Rationalist group and ignore the rest as much as possible.
… hmmm, sounds like analytic philosophers to me…..
Pot-shots and generalizations aside, I do see this in my limited scope of knowledge yet no serious teaching has been done on this subject it seems like professors and academics would simply prefer not to talk about this subject and I am curious as to why they hold this opinion. Something like this seems like it could be kind of important for philosophical discussion and it would be useful to me as a student to simply help fill in another part of my education. I thought we were supposed to become “well-rounded” through undergraduate education and this is why all of those pointless general education requirements are set, yet there is this entire Other side of thought that never seems to be discussed. How in the world can I be well-rounded without this side too?
If the world would leave me alone to study for a while I’d probably be much more knowledgeable and able to back this up in a more thorough manner, but until then I’ll just have to moonlight as the Other branch with the day job of Rationalist.