chapter  11
12 Pages

Gilles Deleuze


Gilles Deleuze was a French philosopher and contemporary of such figures as Foucault, Lyotard, Lacan, Derrida and Levinas. Deleuze was born in Paris and lived there for the majority of his life. While studying at the Sorbonne, Deleuze was taught by a series of influential French philosophers, including Maurice de Gandillac, Georges Canguilhem (who was a notable influence on Foucault) and Jean Hyppolite. It was Hyppolite who did much to motivate the renaissance of Hegel studies in Paris after the war and specifically the attempt to develop a phenomenological interpretation of Hegel. Deleuze’s first published work consisted in a review of Hyppolite’s Logic and Existence, in 1954, in which he already introduces the possibility of an ‘ontology of difference … where difference is expression itself, and contradiction its merely phenomenal aspect’. Having taught at various lycée, Deleuze was appointed to a position at the Sorbonne in 1957. During the early 1960s, Deleuze held a position at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, before accepting a professorship at the University of Lyon in 1964. During this period, he developed a strong friendship with Michel Foucault, and it was with Foucault that, in the wake of the events of May 1968, he moved to the new Paris VIII University, at Vincennes. It was at Vincennes that Deleuze started collaborating with Félix Guattari; he also developed a friendship there with Jean-Francois Lyotard, who was appointed in the early 1970s. Deleuze stayed at Vincennes until his retirement in 1987. In the early part of his career, he wrote a series of scholarly monographs

on philosophers including Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson and Spinoza. In addition during this period he wrote books on Proust, Sacher-Masoch and Kafka. Then in 1968 and 1969 he published two works, Difference and Repetition and Logic of Sense, in which he developed his own original philosophical voice and positions (although both books drew heavily on his preceding scholarly philosophical work). Following this Deleuze entered into a notorious and frequently remarkable collaboration with the psychoanalyst Félix Guattari, which yielded two volumes under the heading of Capitalism and Schizophrenia – Anti-Oedipus in 1972 and A Thousand Plateaus in 1980. A final volume in their collaboration, What is Philosophy?, was published in

1991. The final phase of Deleuze’s work on his own included works on Foucault and Leibniz, on the painter Francis Bacon, a two-volume work on cinema, and a number of collections of essays and interviews. In addition, many of Deleuze’s Tuesday morning seminars, conducted while he was working at Vincennes, have been transcribed and made available on the web at ‘WebDeleuze’. Finally, Deleuze staged a delightful series of short interviews for French television, in the form of an ‘Abecedaire’, in which he offered brief reflections on themes relating to his thought.