Difference (philosophy)

The word difference (Latin differentia: diversity, difference ) is used differently in different philosophical theories and problem contexts. Here, continuities have variously found, so similar usages in similar topics. Some of these are discussed below. Since the difference is often used as an antonym to identity (which is not the same, is different), the meaning of the former expression often results from the use which is made ​​of the latter.

Systematic aspects

Both ( Scholastic particular and early modern ) in classical epistemological ( ie about: what appears different why and in what way or how can Differentes recognize ) and ontological (ie: what is different, in the awareness -independent reality) theories as well as in analytical debates at least since the beginning of the last century until today associate with the expression difference questions regarding the individuation, identification, constitution and identity of objects and the criteria in the same (not always under those same markings ) and the mereology. Because if you can explain what "makes" that something is one and the same object, you can also explain what makes two objects to different objects. In other words, what it means to speak of difference arises only under certain ontological (or semantic or epistemological ) theories. It is often distinguished and long different types of difference, such as numerical, conceptual or qualitative or essentially uniform ( such as Duns Scotus haecceitates with talk of quality " colorless ").

If you do not treat such issues in the context of an ontological realism, but about an idealism or transcendental awareness or strictly theoretical framework, the problem further complicates.

Historical Aspects

Aristotle (or his translator ) used "different " for the " otherness of things " (Met. 1018a12 Δ9 ) with respect to species, genus or certain routes. It counts the difference to the → predicables.

Thomas Aquinas distinguishes a differentia accidentalis communis (different variable states of the same individual, for example, child and adult ); a differentia numerica (different instances of the same type, for example, people from Asia, Africa ); a differentia specifica ( artbildender difference of the species of the same genus differ ) and diversitas ( difference of genera which agree only analog to quantity or quality ).

In German idealism difference is mostly used as an antonym to the central technical term identity.

One of the most famous expressions of Martin Heidegger is his talk of ontological difference. This means a difference of beings ( all the objects in the real world ) and that indicated by the word of His mode, what "makes" that they are. The latter question was the previous ontological theory at least, not dealt with in the sense that Heidegger gives it, which is why he criticizes classical metaphysical theories.

Numerous French theorists are also for known since the 1960s to criticize much of classical metaphysical theorizing, because they were too succumbed to a logic of identity, which is about means that Individual am taken hastily on terms ( as an object of a certain type will be identified ), so that its individuality and the existing otherness to all classifications, norms, and the like will repaid. On the other hand, with the accusation of " identity thinking" a first principle be meant to put that classical theories at their beginning, optionally a principle of metaphysical nature ( the One, the Good, God, etc. ), or awareness of theoretical nature ( self- identity, self-confidence, the Even thickness of the subject in a free and first ever criminal act etc ). Such appeals are usually justified in principle or ethical, pragmatic or politically motivated. Whether the classical theories in question are thereby represented or recorded correctly, is usually controversial. These questions depend partly on alternative methodologies to understand about historical, historical-critical or hermeneutic methods. While about Gadamersche hermeneutics hastily identify the horizons of meaning of author and recipient whose principal difference is emphasized and argued about with different epistemic starting positions ( Michel Foucault summarizes their epochal totality under the concept of episteme ). These discussions are complicated, versatile and thematic in its core and its fertility controversial than represented here. Difference occurs in any event, often as a slogan for alternative conceptions on: it's about a fundamental difference of "the other " (depending on all of the first -identical different, about another person yet), with precisely this way of speaking is typical in just such capitalization; one often speaks of alterity. Difference is partly a precise technical term used as one might ascribe this Foucault and Jacques Derrida in respective authors. Of the latter, the coinage is known différance, with whom he wants to criticize the centered on the spoken word occidental philosophical tradition.

Something else is spoken of "difference" in precise technical meaning in system theory designs. For the more classic versions such as the analysis of functional differentiation is typical. Something newer proposals ( prominently by Niklas Luhmann and his environment represented ) bring the operation of distinction as a fundamental system operation in stop: a system differs from its environment and can only handle with units at all, if it did turn herauseinzelt by distinguishing etc.

Partially influenced directly by both aforementioned theoretical approaches, some standing in independent traditions, parts of modern sociology or social science or philosophy of social and socio-cultural differences of interest, concerns about what role different patterns and gender issues. Whether the term " difference " has a specific technical sense this is dependent on the underlying theory and methods.