Gilles Deleuze – biography and philosophy

To understand the importance of Gilles Deleuze’s influence in our contemporary societies, we first offer a short biography, from his birth in Paris to his suicide in 1995. Then we look back at the ideas he formulated that have had the greatest impact on posterity.

Gilles Deleuze – Short Biography

Born in Paris in 1925, Gilles Deleuze went to Deauville during the war, then returned to Paris to continue his studies at the Lycée Carnot.

He tried to enter the ENS, but did not succeed in getting in. It was on this occasion, however, that he met Georges Canguilhem, another great name in twentieth-century philosophy.

He obtained his agrégation in philosophy in 1948. He met Michel Foucault in this period.

Father of two children, he defended a thesis in 1968 on difference and repetition then a complementary thesis on Baruch Spinoza and the problem of expression.

After a lung operation and while resting from his medical problems, he met Félix Guattari with whom he collaborated.

He committed suicide in 1995, unable to bear his illness.

Michel Serres had these words to say about Deleuze during an interview with Hari Kunzru:“Deleuze was – I lost my best friend last month, because Deleuze is my best friend. I admire him. I love him. When we were young, we were very separate. So we invented together the term “old friends”…”

Gilles Deleuze – Major Ideas

For Deleuze in the 1990 Talks, philosophy is “creative or even revolutionary, by nature, insofar as it never stops creating new concepts. The only condition is that they have a necessity but also a strangeness.”

We seek the truth because a certain form of violence of the situation pushes us there. It is not by good pleasure that we seek the truth, we seek it “rather under the blow of a shock than in the impulse of a taste”. (Difference and repetition)

The repetition is the difference without concept.” The repetition is indeed other than the generality, and it is opposed to the habit.

The objective of the contemporary philosophy is to reverse the philosophy of Plato. The difference being in the repetition goes against the theory of the Idea and the associated sensible simulacra.

This philosophy which followed Plato forged presuppositions which it is also necessary to unmask, among which the common sense (very Cartesian notion), or the error, which would be a distance of the truth.

Deleuze attacks Immanuel Kant on two points.

1. Immanuel Kant wanted to develop a philosophy of “conditioning”; the “possible” experience must be replaced by the “real” experience.

2. Moreover, transcendence in Immanuel Kant is badly theorized, since transcendence does not “resemble” what is empirical.

Thus Deleuze undertakes to find a“transcendental empiricism“. (Difference and repetition, 1968) The conditions, what without which a phenomenon would not occur, are case-specific.

We seek to determine an impersonal and pre-individual transcendental field, which does not resemble the corresponding empirical fields and which does not, however, merge into an undifferentiated depth.


The singularities are the real transcendental events


When the teeming world of anonymous and nomadic, impersonal, pre-individual singularities opens up, we finally tread the field of the transcendental(Logique du sens, Gilles Deleuze)

The collaboration Deleuze – Guattari (notably in theAnti-Œdipe) leads both authors to think that desire is the power of an affirmation of life. Deleuze thus extends Baruch Spinoza’s notion of conatus, explaining, “The conatus should not be interpreted as a tendency to pass into existence … but as a tendency to persevere in existence.”

Desire is in this sense not a consequence of lack, as classical psychoanalysis would have us believe.

In theAnti-Œdipus, the two authors define three types of forces in the course of the human history which repressed the desire by encodings, decoding, overcodings: savage (marking of the bodies), barbarian (despotism), civilized (deterritorialization).

In Logique du Sens, univocity comes from the multiple.

Ontology and philosophy are synonymous:“Philosophy is confused with ontology, but ontology is confused with the univocity of there being”.

Always in a Spinozist sense, “the pure immanence” is in the center of the philosophy of Deleuze. The nature is then“multiplicity“.