Tradition, dialectic, and ideology: Contemporary conflicts in historical perspective

Vincent Colapietro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The task of philosophy is examined in reference to the actual circumstances of academic philosophy, principally in the United States. The author challenges the still prevalent tendency to conceive academic philosophy as an affair split into two camps-most often identified as analytic and Continental philosophy. Moreover, he proposes a distinctive understanding of the dialectical approach to philosophical query, one attuned to the traditional character of the relevant alternatives and also to the ideological dimension of contemporary disputes, but not one necessarily undertaken for sake of resolving disagreements or achieving consensus. The very goals animating the process of working through substantive, methodological, and other differences (in a word, animating dialectic) are themselves critical foci of an ongoing process open not only to question but also alteration: the aims of query are being continuously transformed or redefined in course of this undertaking. In proposing this understanding of dialectic, he draws heavily on the examples of Richard J. Bernstein, John McCumber, and especially John E. Smith. Finally, the author offers an example of how such an approach can be effectively eliminated, even by an individual who in almost every other respect is an exemplary philosopher. If (as John Courtney Murray, S.J., asserts) civility "dies with the death of dialogue," philosophy can live only by the continual renewal of genuine dialogue across diverse traditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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