Dr Edward Thornton

Dr Edward Thornton
Dr Edward Thornton

Dr Edward Thornton


Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History


Dr Thornton joined the University of Aberdeen in 2020 from Royal Holloway, University of London, where he worked as a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy (2018-2020). He works on the history of European philosophy, especially 20th century French Philosophy.

His research investigates the various ways in which European philosophers from the last century responded to the problems bequeathed to them from the philosophical canon. He has expertise in the fields of existentialism, phenomenology, and poststructuralism, especially as they appear in the work of Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, and Derrida. Dr Thornton has also worked on the history of a practice named Institutional Psychotherapy and is a founding member of the Network for Institutional Analysis.

Dr Thornton has published most widely on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. His work has appeared in The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Journal of Transcendental Philosopy, Plí: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy, and Deleuze and Guattari Studies. His first book, the proposal for which has been accepted by Edinburgh University Press, explores Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy of transformation.

Dr Thornton completed his PhD at Royal Holloway in 2018, his MA at Birkbeck in 2013, and his BA at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge in 2010.


Research Overview

Dr Thornton’s research concerns the history of European Philosophy. He has research interests in the nature of subjectivity, its genesis, its institutional contexts, and its relation with systems of power. 

Much of Dr Thornton’s work in this area has focused on the philosophical and practical writings of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The proposal for his first book, provisionally titled On Lines of Flight: Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of Transformation, has been accepted by Edinburgh University Press, and is due for submission in early 2021. 

The book reveals the metaphysical underpinnings of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy and shows how, beneath the many references to specific moments of transformation, Deleuze and Guattari provide a complex philosophical framework, specifically designed to treat transformative processes as constitutive of reality. Central to this study is an examination of the concept of the “line of flight” (ligne de fuite). By exposing the way in which this concept animates Deleuze and Guattari’s work, and by showing how it allows Deleuze and Guattari to theorise processes of radical transformation – from the evolutionary developments of biological species to the revolutionary breaks of political change – this book challenges readers with a novel vision of Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre as a methodical response to the philosophical problem of transformation.

Current Research

Dr Thornton’s current work explores the nature of philosophical presuppositions. He has recently completed papers on the role of “transcendental presuppositions” in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and on the failure of Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis of presuppositions to recognise the complexity of the Kantian framework. Dr Thornton is currently devising a postdoctoral research project which maps some of the fault lines in contemporary philosophical thought through an examination of the various ways in which philosophers relate to their prephilosophical presuppositions.

As a secondary project, Dr Thornton is also interested in the global history of the movement of existentialism. He is currently conducting some preliminary research into the connections that exist between the various forms of existentialism that have emerged in Japan, North Africa, Europe, and the United States.


Teaching Responsibilities

In the academic year 2020-2021, Dr Thornton will be convening three courses and delivering teaching support on a further two courses: 


PH2529 - Life Death and Meaning - 2nd Year Philosophy

PH354S/PH454S - Freedom, Power, and the Self - 3rd/4th Year Philosophy

PH402D - Dissertation - 4th Year Philosophy 

Teaching Support:

PH201B - What Are We: Mind in a Physical World - 2nd Year Philosophy

PH1522 - How Should One Live? - 1st Year Philosophy 


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