gilles Deleuzequotes

1925 - 1995

Photograph of Gilles DeleuzeOne of the key figures for postmodern French philosophy, Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) referred to himself as a “transcendental empiricist.” Enraging some, inspiring others, his philosophies are decidedly original and his writing considered a bedrock for post-structuralism (How Do We Recognize Structuralism?).

If there is one pervasive Deleuzian concept, it is that of creation. He was a constructionist through and through, believing that philosophy is not the pursuit of universal truth and rationale, but rather the creation of concepts. He reasoned that individuals and the world were always in a state of becoming, not being.

His philosophy lectures at Paris VIII University never failed to pack the house. Students stole chairs from other classrooms to hear his over-the-top lectures and watch him chain smoke his way through class. If they were lucky, he’d get tired and play his musical saw.

He thought history was a map, not a narrative, and offered the metaphor of a rhizome as a better tool to explain not only culture, but philosophical thought; namely, a resistance to chronology and organization, and an embrace of nomadic and disordered growth (A Thousand Plateaus).

When he published Anti-Oedipus, co-authored with the radical psychoanalyst Félix Guattari, it was an instant hit in Paris. It took longer for the work to gain acclaim in the U.S., but when it did it became a mainstay in critical theory classrooms.

Struggling for years with respiratory problems due to tuberculosis in his younger years, along with other deteriorating health issues, a depressed Deleuze committed suicide in 1995.