There are real dividing lines in the history of philosophy, but the one between the “analytic” and the “Continental” isn’t one of them, though it’s interesting today from a sociological point of view, since it allows graduate programs in philosophy to define spheres of permissible ignorance for their students. A real dividing line, by contrast, one that matters for substantive philosophical questions, is between “naturalists” and “anti-naturalists.” The naturalists, very roughly, are those who think human beings are just certain kinds of animals, that one understands these animals through the same empirical methods one uses to understand other animals, and that philosophy has no proprietary methods for figuring out what there is, what we know, and, in particular, what humans are like. The anti-naturalists, by contrast, are (again, roughly) those who think human beings are different not just in degree but in kind from the other animals, and that this difference demands certain proprietary philosophical methods – perhaps a priori knowledge or philosophical ways of exploring the distinctively “normative” realm in which humans live.
So on the naturalist side you get, more or less, David Hume, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Ludwig Büchner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rudolf Carnap, W.V.O. Quine, Jerry Fodor, Stephen Stich, and Alex Rosenberg and on the anti-naturalist side you get, more or less, Gottfried Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Edmund Husserl, Gottlob Frege, Jean-Paul Sartre, G.E.M. Anscombe, Wilfrid Sellars (at least for part of his career), the older Hilary Putnam, Alvin Plantinga, and John McDowell, among many others. This disagreement – a disagreement, very roughly, about the relationship of philosophy to the sciences – isn’t one that tracks the alleged analytic/Continental distinction. Indeed, the founders of the 20th-century traditions of “analytic” and “Continental” philosophy (Frege and Husserl, respectively) are both on the anti-naturalist side, and both are reacting against hardcore naturalist positions in philosophy that had become dominant on the European Continent in the late 19th-century. And the first explosion of what anti-naturalists would derisively call “scientism” came in Germany in the 1840s and 1850s, as a reaction to Hegel’s obscurantist idealism. Naturalism and anti-naturalism mark a profound dividing line in modern philosophy, but it has nothing to do with “analytic” vs. “Continental’ philosophy.
The other distinction that I think is increasingly important is that between what I call “realists” and “moralists,” between those who think the aim of philosophy should be to get as clear as possible about the way things really are, that is, about the actual causal structure of the natural and human world, how societies and economies work, what motivates politicians and ordinary people to do what they do, and, on the other hand, those who think the aim of philosophy is to set up moral ideals, to give moralistic lectures about what society ought to do and how people ought to act. […]