I'm pretty new to Japanese and I have a question.
So I know this is supposed to be something like "he differs from his former self" but I can't really make sense of what とは is supposed to mean in this particular situation:
This is just a case of
は acting as emphasis. The
と is used with
違う to say that something is different than something else
AはBと違う → A is different than/from B
は is placing the focus on the relationship (
昔の彼), not the analysis of the relationship (
- 彼は昔の彼と違う → He is different than his former self (neutral statement)
- 彼は昔の彼とは違う → As for him and his former self, they differ
Fundamentally, they mean the same thing. The difference is the focus. Don't know if I'm explaining that well. Take a look at this related question. It does a good job explaining in-depth how adding
は to another particle affects the meaning.