This provocative book addresses one of the central and most controversial branches of Western thought: the philosophy of origin. In light of recent poststructuralist principles such as alterity, différance, and dissemination, the philosophy of origin seems to exemplify the repressive, reactionary tendencies of much of the Western philosophical tradition. John Pizer aims to overturn this recent antipathy to the philosophy of origin. He ably summarizes poststructuralist critiques of that earlier philosophical tradition, then turns to five German thinkers (Nietzsche, Benjamin, Rosenzweig, Heidegger, and Adorno) who developed philosophies of origin that effectively anticipate and counter poststructuralist attacks.
These are thinkers who, in one way or another, influenced recent generations of poststructuralist thinkers. Pizer argues, however, that rather than do away with the notion of origin altogether (as in the works of the most thoroughgoing poststructuralists), these philosophers developed theories in which origin is always “multiple and plurivalent.” In the writings of these seminal German thinkers, “origin” becomes “origins,” and “authentic origins” are “inherently plural and divergent.”
A valuable, engrossing account of a wide range of thinkers and their complex relations, Pizer’s book recovers the notion of origin for an intellectual world that has come to value multiplicity, openness, and diversity.