Gilles Deleuze (January 18, 1925 - November 4, 1995) was a French philosopher.
Deleuze came from a long line of Continental philosophers concerned with various means of destabilizing essentialism (Spinoza, Nietzsche). At the same time each one felt there was something else to put in its place. For Deleuze it was the One-all which can be thought of as the totality of everything. This totality extends to the end of our physical universe and its conditions of possibility. Such a basic premise seems to harken to Plato and his theory of the realm of ideas and the difference between the intelligible and the sensible. Rightly so, as Deleuze feels he is overturning Platonism. In doing this he seeks to privilege the physical corporeal world by destabilizing the 'idea' of ideals. We get from Plato the impression that these ideals have some sort of stable ontological status (they're real, and they don't change). Furthermore, when they come down to physical reality they are never instantiated quite right. Deleuze saw this as a weak formulation of the real world of the virtual (his realm of ideas). For him any actualization (real physical observable world stuff) is a nexus of virtualities which are necessarily interacting imperfectly. This imperfection implies problems or areas in which the next actualization can let another virtuality intersect the previous virtualities.
On a moral/political level, Deleuze takes this idea (and a host of others) as a means of allowing him to reject Fascism in its macro (Nazi-esque) and micro (internalized capitalist) forms. He believed that we should cherish and accept the instability of the physical world and flow through the actualizations of virtuality instead of seeking to limit them. To limit and regulate them is to limit and regulate life and process. This has led some to connect his philosophy with anarchist politics.
These metaphysical commitments lead Deleuze to elaborate throughout his career an original philosophy rooted in internal difference. He constructs in his works a "non-Hegelianism" by seeking to explain ontological change in terms of immanent difference. Rather than rely upon a change of unified beings imposing wills on each other, forming coherence by reaction (as Deleuze might consider Hegel to do through his dialectic, see for instance the master-slave relationship), Deleuze scours philosophical predecessors for concepts that differentiate between external and internal causation and privilege internal causation, or power that is not divorced from its implementation. For instance, from Bergson, he is inspired by the idea of duration, a time of the body lived and self-differentiating, without reference to external beings.
This key focus of Deleuze, a unity between power and its action, can be seen throughout his more political commentaries. For instance, in Milles Plateaux, Deleuze and Guattari develop the concepts of royal versus nomad science. Royal science proceeds by the separation of power and action, and essentially a division of labor between the intellectual and the manual. Nomad science has its own divisions of labor, but maintains an integration of intellectual and manual labor. Here we see resonances with Marx's early critiques of the alienating features of capitalism and private property.
To return to Deleuze's larger project, this "productivist monism" as we might call it reflects his understanding of thought itself. Rather than focus on the idea as an alienation of lived activity, or a transcendence from lived activity, Deleuze considers the "concept" to be a point of indeterminacy between given things, the ruptures between beings that allow their change and causal interpenetration. Deleuze thus relates his theory of mind and politics to the metaphysics described earlier. The concept functions as a creation of new bonds between things, based upon bridging their virtual indeterminacies. Hence we may call Deleuze's philosophy, along with those of his predecessors Spinoza and Nietzsche, one of pure affirmation: at no instant is a "negation" in the Hegelian sense occurring, at no instant is there truly any negative transcendence or transcendence through "abstraction" occurring in the world, not even in human thought.
Deleuze committed suicide by jumping from a window in 1995 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
"Kant's Critical Philosophy"
"Empiricism and Subjectivity"
Difference and Repetition
Nietzsche and Philosophy
"The Logic of Sense"
"Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty"
"Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza"
The Fold - Leibniz and the Baroque
Cinema 1 - The Movement-Image
"Francis Bacon: Logic of Sensation"
"Proust and Signs"
"Essays: Critical and Clinical"
"Desert Islands: Selected Writings"
In collaboration with Félix Guattari:
Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 1. L'Anti-Oedipe. 1972/3. Trans. Anti-Oedipus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1985.
Kafka: Pour une Littérature Mineure. 1975. Trans. Kafka: Toward a Theory of Minor Literature. 1986.
Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2. Mille Plateaux. 1980. Trans. A Thousand Plateaus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1987.
Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? 1991. Trans. What Is Philosophy? 1996.
On Gilles Deleuze:
Badiou, Alain (2000) Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press