Current Continental Theory and Modern Philosophy
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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For decades continental theorists known for their work in critical theory, psychoanalytic structuralism, feminism, deconstruction, semiotics, philosophical hermeneutics, poststructuralism, and postmodernism have engaged in provocative, penetrating, and often extensive examinations of modern philosophers from Machiavelli to Kant. Because they have not presupposed many of the historiographic assumptions...
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By focusing on the principles by which the history of philosophy is described, current continental theory redirects the study of early modern philosophy by replacing the attempt to explain the arguments of sixteenth- through eighteenth-century thinkers with an account of the presuppositions of those arguments. In particular, it rejects the classical (especially Platonic-Aristotelian) assumption that the structural differentiation of words, ideas, and things is a timeless given and instead emphasizes how such differentiation emerges. So rather...
Machiavelli, Historical Repetition, and French Philosophies of Difference
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The development of modern historical consciousness, from Vico and Rousseau through Hegel and Marx to Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Benjamin, betrays a single-minded fixation on historical repetition, which appears far more important in its formulations than any schema of linear temporal progress. By “historical repetition” I do not mean the belief that similar events occur throughout history but...
Truth and Evidence in Descartes and Levinas
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The objective of Levinas’s philosophy is to describe and establish the priority of an ethical subjectivity that is constituted in responsibility for the Other. Crucial to his position is the claim that such a subjectivity is not self-constituting but is constituted in subjection to the Other who is “exterior” to the subject and who makes a claim on the subject’s freedom. So, against a tradition that promotes the autonomy of subjects, Levinas...
Le Doeuff and Irigaray on Descartes
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For Michèle Le Doueff, Descartes’ morality par provision consists of value-charged images, attitudes, and beliefs that are permanent, impossible to excise through systematic doubt. Such elements, including what Le Doeuff calls the “philosophical imaginary,” are prior to and constitutive of reason itself. Consequently, the neutrality...
Between Pascal and Spinoza: The Vacuum
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Pascal and Spinoza are more or less contemporary: The first edition of the Pensées appeared in 1670, the same year as the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. However, no direct communication passed between them; no real exchange occurred. It seems quite tenuous to argue that, because Spinoza’s library contained the Port Royal Logic, his theory of definition recalls that...
Potentia multitudinis, quae una veluti mente ducitur: Spinoza on the Body Politic
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In this essay I have a simple aim, but it is one that seems to raise fundamental questions in Spinozism: To try to explain the strange expression used by Spinoza notably at the beginning of the Tractatus Politicus III, section 2: “potentia multitudinis, quae una veluti mente ducitur” (“the power of the multitude guided, as it were, by one mind”). This expression...
Spinoza and Materialism
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Chameleons have survived as long as they have because they can flourish in different environments—changes in their color enable them to coexist with other kinds of creature among lush vegetation, on sandy banks, or on grey rock faces. Some philosophers—those we tend to regard as the greatest of all—are similarly adaptive. Their work speaks...
Deleuze’s Spinoza: Thinker of Difference, or Deleuze against the Valley Girls
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Of all the pre-nineteenth-century philosophers who have exerted a fascination on both philosophers and nonphilosophers alike, probably none has exerted more fascination than Spinoza. Certainly, there have been pre-nineteenth–century philosophers, such as Descartes or Hume, who have proven more influential than Spinoza. And...
Deleuze on Leibniz: Difference, Continuity, and the Calculus
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Gilles Deleuze once characterized himself as a “classical” philosopher, a statement that no doubt was meant to signal his indebtedness to (and affinities with) the great philosophers of the classic period, notably Spinoza and Leibniz. Spinoza provided Deleuze with a model for a purely immanent ontology, while Leibniz offered him a way of thinking through the problems of individuation and the theory of Ideas. In both...
On the Function of the Concept of Origin: Althusser’s Reading of Locke
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It would be difficult to think of a philosopher apparently less likely to capture the interest of Althusser than John Locke. Indeed, one might easily make the case that Locke’s philosophy in its entirety (the metaphysical and epistemological propositions expressed in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding and the political arguments of the Two Treatises of Government) exemplifies that ...
Locke and the Event of Appropriation: A Heideggerian Reading of “Of Property”
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In “The Origin of the Work of Art” Heidegger describes how a Greek temple “first fits together and at the same time gathers round itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline shape the paths of human essencing.”1 He explains...
From Kristeva to Deleuze: The Encyclopedists and the Philosophical Imaginary
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This essay ties the work of Julia Kristeva on linguistics into the general postwar critique of the Enlightenment, but not in the form of the Enlightenment project so familiar to the Anglo-American world. Instead, it addresses a more technical, disciplinary critique of the Enlightenment most familiar from Michel Foucault but also shared by Gilles Deleuze, F
Deleuze’s Hume and Creative History of Philosophy
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Gilles Deleuze’s remarkable encounter with Hume’s empiricism is composed of commentaries and unpredictable applications, moments of silence and scattered allusions. As for the question “What did Deleuze discover in Hume’s philosophy?” or better yet “What did...
Althusser and Hume: A Materialist Encounter
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Considering Althusser’s critique of empiricism in Reading Capital, Gregory Elliott’s question, toward the end of his essay on Althusser and contingency, “how does his own position differ from the kind of empiricist common sense of English historians?” seems...
Loving the Impossible: Derrida, Rousseau, and the Politics of Perfectibility
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Could an unconditional hospitality ever be possible? Posing the question in recent work, Jacques Derrida asks whether a pure hospitality is possible. The language of purity circulates in his recent work, pure hospitality or the pure welcome. Pure hospitality...
“What We Cannot Say”: Gadamer, Kant, and Freedom
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My intention in what follows is to ask about the kinship of language and freedom. More precisely, it is to ask a two-part question. First, to what extent does the word (that is, language or speech) open the experience of freedom? And second, is it possible to speak of freedom? As you will see...
The Art of Begetting Monsters: The Unnatural Nuptials of Deleuze and Kant
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Thinking of Deleuze today and of his encounters with philosophers of old brings to mind first and foremost his sustained dialogue with Bergson, Nietzsche and Spinoza. His early work on Hume is practically overlooked, while his fruitful discussion of Leibniz is thought to be too demanding and, therefore, capable of being visited only by the hardiest of his commentators. When it comes to his writings...
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Notes on Contributors
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Page Count: 612
Publication Year: 2005