Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

Leonard Lawlor
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/01/2011
ISBN: 978-0-253-00516-8
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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.

Author Bio

Leonard Lawlor is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He is author of Derrida and Husserl (IUP, 2002) and Thinking through French Philosophy (IUP, 2003).


“This volume explores the basic project of contemporary continental philosophy, which culminates in a movement toward the outside. With the conception of continental philosophy as a unified project, the author's vision can revitalize the philosophical enterprise. ”

“Leonard Lawlor has proven himself to be one of the most imaginative and original interpreters of French philosophy.”
 — Stephen H. Watson, University of Notre Dame

“Well researched and credible in its sweep through the various philosophical projects it considers.”
 — James Risser, Seattle University

“Well conceived and well argued . . . eminently useful and important.”
 — Michael Naas, DePaul University

“Overall, this is an outstanding book that will serve as a fine supplement (and guide) to important primary texts in early twentieth-century continental philosophy. However, it will also be of great interest to scholars in this area due to the tendentious reframing agenda and the copious scholarly notes that append each chapter. This book would serve as an interesting supplemental text for a course on continental thought and is a valuable resource for any university library.”
 — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Textual summaries are clear, and interpretations are fresh and compelling. Helpful bibliography and index. . . . Recommended. ”
 — Choice

“[This] book reminds us that the historicity of thought entails that the philosopher never starts from scratch, and that the future is critically and creatively opened up only by way of engaging with the past. Lawlor thus resolves this tension by conceiving of continental philosophy as a project which calls on us to reflect on its past so as to participate in the creation of its future.67.4 June 2014”

“[t]his book will function well as an introduction to continental philosophy (and should be so used) . . . Lawlor has clearly and forcefully articulated the central driving impulse behind continental philosophy.”
 — Philosophy in Review

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Table of Contents

Preface: The Four Conceptual Features
Introduction: Structure and Genesis of Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

1. Thinking beyond Platonism: Bergson’s "Introduction to Metaphysics" (1903)
2. Schizophrenic Thought: Freud’s "The Unconscious" (1915)
3. Consciousness as Distance: Husserl’s "Phenomenology" (the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica Entry)
4. The Thought of the Nothing: Heidegger’s "What is Metaphysics?" (1929)
5. Dwelling in the Speaking of Language: Heidegger’s "Language" (1950)
6. Dwelling in the Texture of the Visible: Merleau-Ponty’s "Eye and Mind" (1961)
7. Enveloped in a Nameless Voice: Foucault’s "The Thought of the Outside" (1966)

Conclusion: Further Questions
Appendix 1: Note on the Idea of Immanence
Appendix 2: What is a Trait?