The Theory of Difference

Readings in Contemporary Continental Thought

Edited by Douglas L. Donkel

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791449288, 368 pages, March 2001
Hardcover : 9780791449271, 368 pages, April 2001

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Table of contents



Part One: Martin Heidegger

The Principle of Identity
(From Identity and Difference)

The Onto-theo-logical Constitution of Metaphysics
(From Identity and Difference)

(From Poetry, Language, Thought)

Time and Being
(From On Time and Being)

Part Two: Maurice Merleau-Ponty

The 'Sensation' as a Unit of Experience
(From Phenomenology of Perception)

Eye and Mind
(From The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader)

The Intertwining-The Chiasm
(From The Visible and the Invisible)

Working Notes
(Selections from The Visible and the Invisible)

Part Three: Gilles Deleuze

Elan Vital as Movement of Differentiation
(From Bergsonism)

Numerical and Real Distinction
(From Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza)

Difference in Itself
(From Difference and Repetition)

Part Four: Jacques Derrida

Signs and the Blink of an Eye
(From Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs)

The Outside is the Inside
(From Of Grammatology)

The Hinge [La Brisure]
(From Of Grammatology)

(From Margins of Philosophy)

Part Five: Luce Irigaray

When Our Lips Speak Together
(From This Sex Which Is Not One)

Chapter Four
(From The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger)

Chapter Five
(From The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger)

Sexual Difference
(From An Ethics of Sexual Difference)


Key readings by Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze, Derrida and Irigaray.


Unlike other anthologies in continental thought, this book focuses on a specific issue—the theory of difference—as the most effective way to generate interest and understanding not only of the specific issue in question, but also of the deeper philosophical connections which constitute the historical fabric of a tradition. Presented here are key texts—some of which were previously out of print—from Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Luce Irigaray, that have been selected to highlight each thinker's understanding of difference, as well as suggesting its implications for a range of issues as ostensibly diverse as the question of Being, the meaning of justice, the problem of translation, the status of theological language, sexual difference, and the nature of the postmodern.

Douglas L. Donkel teaches philosophy at The University of Portland. He is the author of The Understanding of Difference in Heidegger and Derrida.


"This book could change the way we think about this period of philosophy. For the first time we can read all of these texts as if they were telling one big story about difference." — Leonard Lawlor, coeditor of Chiasms: Merleau-Ponty's Notion of Flesh

"The editor has chosen texts that are not only about difference, but also are clearly among the most important texts of each author presented. It is very helpful for a teacher of continental philosophy to have a book that exposes the student to central texts of some of the most important authors and texts which are not otherwise readily available or often anthologized. The book offers selections that allow the student to develop an in-depth understanding of the problem of difference and at the same time allows the student to see the interconnection of the philosophers being studied." — Walter Brogan, Villanova University