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Genealogies of Difference

Genealogies of Difference combines critical engagements with modern and postmodern theories of identity, difference, contingency, and time with strategic forays into ancient, early Christian, and medieval philosophy. Without losing sight of complex contributions from the past, Nathan Widder provides the philosophical underpinnings for a politics and ethics of difference crucial to our present day. Lucid and distinctive, this volume is an important, in-depth contribution to contemporary debates on pluralism, multiplicity, and community.

This deft study establishes the failure of Hegelian dialectics to adequately come to terms with the problem of difference. Drawing from the works of Nietzsche, Lyotard, Deleuze, Foucault, and Blanchot, Widder demonstrates the need to rethink the nature of difference and the categories of thought that have dominated Western philosophy. He then provides a keen exploration of major and marginal figures and schools in the history of Western thought–-including Aristotle, Epicureanism, Augustine, Gnosticism, and medieval Scholasticism–-to illustrate the relevance and relation of these perspectives to contemporary issues and thought.

Widder addresses the substantial body of theoretical discourse on difference without neglecting the history of political thought or the contemporary criticisms of the tradition. His genealogical endeavor develops a concept of difference indispensable to a postmodern world of blurred boundaries and hybrid forms that exceed our traditional categories of understanding.

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