Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy
Publication Year: 2011
Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy elaborates the basic project of contemporary continental philosophy, which culminates in a movement toward the outside. Leonard Lawlor interprets key texts by major figures in the continental tradition, including Bergson, Foucault, Freud, Heidegger, Husserl, and Merleau-Ponty, to develop the broad sweep of the aims of continental philosophy. Lawlor discusses major theoretical trends in the work of these philosophers—immanence, difference, multiplicity, and the overcoming of metaphysics. His conception of continental philosophy as a unified project enables Lawlor to think beyond its European origins and envision a global sphere of philosophical inquiry that will revitalize the field.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Studies in Continental Thought
Preface: The Four Conceptual Features
The book you are about to read concerns early twentieth-century continental philosophy, that is, French and German philosophy from 1903, the original publication date of Bergson’s “Introduction to Metaphysics,” to 1966, the original publication date of Foucault’s “The Thought of the...
This book evolved out of a course called Recent Continental Philosophy, which I taught several times at the University of Memphis from 1999 until 2008; then, under the title Twentieth-Century Philosophy, I taught the same course, its final version, at Penn State University in the fall of...
Introduction: Structure and Genesis of Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy
In order to define “continental philosophy” (and perhaps philosophy in general), we must say, without any equivocation, that there is one and only one driving question. The question is given to us by Heidegger, and, in his book on Foucault, Deleuze calls this question “the arrow shot by...
1 Thinking beyond Platonism: Bergson’s “Introduction to Metaphysics” (1903)
Near the end of “Introduction to Metaphysics,” Bergson says, “The partial eclipse of metaphysics since the last half century has been caused more than anything else by the extraordinary difficulty the philosopher experiences today in making contact with a science already much too scattered”...
2 Schizophrenic Thought: Freud’s “The Unconscious” (1915)
If the outside is the outside of the conscious present, then we must investigate Freud’s thought. In particular, we must investigate the place where he most thoroughly defines the unconscious, his 1915 essay “The Unconscious.” Written well after the discoveries of his...
3 Consciousness as Distance: Husserl’s “Phenomenology” (the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica Entry)
Freudian psychoanalysis makes a twofold contribution to the project of continental philosophy. On the one hand, like Bergsonism, it places consciousness within a larger system, that of the unconscious. It truly opens the way for the outside. On the other, by means of the priority of...
4 The Thought of the Nothing: Heidegger’s “What Is Metaphysics?” (1929)
Before we turn to the transition that Heidegger represents, let us recapitulate the structure of thinking we have seen up to this point. First, the starting point is Cartesian. This kind of thinking starts from immanence. Freud is not an exception to this claim since he too speaks of inner...
5 Dwelling in the Speaking of Language: Heidegger’s “Language” (1950)
We have been building up to this moment, the moment when language itself becomes an issue. In Husserl, we were able to unearth a kind of variation that is not determined by a form. An-exact variation indicates a possibility of language beyond a univocal purpose. In Freud, we found that...
6 Dwelling in the Texture of the Visible: Merleau-Ponty’s “Eye and Mind” (1961)
Coming from Merleau-Ponty’s 1959–60 course at the Collège de France called “Husserl at the Limits of Phenomenology,” this quotation shows the important role Heidegger plays in Merleau-Ponty’s final thinking. Heidegger’s importance does not, however, diminish the role that...
7 Enveloped in a Nameless Voice: Foucault’s “The Thought of the Outside” (1966)
If, like Foucault, we had started our investigation earlier, farther back than the beginning of the twentieth century, we would have traced out a development that went from transcendence in the Middle Ages (from the transcendence of God or another world), across the Classical epoch,...
Conclusion: Further Questions
The research agenda for what we have been calling “continental philosophy” can be summed up in one sentence. This kind of philosophy aims to construct a discourse that leads us to an experience that puts ourselves in question. In other words, it aims to invent concepts that lead us to an...
Appendix 1: A Note on the Idea of Immanence
Appendix 2: What Is a Trait?