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Dialectics Beyond Dialectics

Translated by Cain Elliott and Jan Burzyński

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Malgorzata Kowalska

Dialectics beyond Dialectics is a study of contemporary French philosophy from Bataille to Derrida. It analyses, on the first level of generalization, the decomposition of Hegelianism understood as philosophy of totality. Many French philosophers of the 20 th century deconstruct Hegelian dialectics and harshly criticize the very idea of totality as either dangerous or impossible. The thesis of the book is that, on doing so, they do not really break with dialectics, but transform it. On the second level of generalization, the issue of the book is modernity and the thesis is that transformations of dialectics reveal transformations of modern consciousness which – despite hasty declarations on the end of modernity – still remains ours.
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Chapter 2: Difference as Repetition

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Chapter 2

Difference as Repetition

Criticizing the tradition of “philosophy of representation” (or “philosophy of identity”), which conceives of difference in terms of negativity and derivation, Deleuze intends to develop the true philosophy of difference. He seeks to rethink difference as a positive and original event, that is to say, to rethink it as something independent of identity in order to deduce identity from difference. Describing this philosophical endeavor as an “inversion of Platonism,” he considers it to be the most important task and challenge for contemporary thought.

Let us observe, however, that this endeavor is not only very ambitious, but also backbreaking, since it seems to be at variance, if not with the necessary nature of thinking and language, than with the established ways of thinking and using language. How can we think and express in language the primacy of difference over identity, if we are used to believing that difference is always a difference between something and something, that is, between two identities? Or how can we distinguish – at least at the point of departure – between difference and identity, given their correspondence and interdependence (A is different from B, which is not the same as A), or even interchangeably, the concept of which has been the fulcrum of Hegel’s speculative-dialectical logic (difference is difference when it has an identity of difference, and identity is identity when it is different from difference)? Aren’t the concepts of difference and identity, taken in isolation from...

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