Theory plays an important role in virtually every academic discipline currently vital. The specific functions of theory may differ from discipline to discipline, but it is difficult to think of any serious discipline that is able to dispense with it entirely; for theory, we usually assume, is quite simply the name of all instances of systematic speculation, all attempts at rational explication. Ordered mentation, most of us unwaveringly believe, is and must be theoretical. All that is not theoretical is either confused thinking – or, more positively, perhaps it is poetic – or it is not thinking at all, but rather a practice, object, or event. Thus the theoretical discloses itself to us as the essential nature of all our striving to make sense of ourselves and our world.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1989, State University of New York (SUNY) Press. This chapter first appeared in The Question of the Other: Essays in Contemporary Continental Philosophy.

Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.

Purchase online at State University of New York Press.