In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gilles Deleuze

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Collected Essays
  • Guides to Specific Texts
  • Guides to Deleuze and Guattari
  • The History of Philosophy
  • Recent Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Ethics and Politics
  • Aesthetics
  • Science and Mathematics
  • The Philosophy of History
  • Psychoanalysis

Philosophy Gilles Deleuze
Henry Somers-Hall
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0169


Gilles Deleuze (b. 1925–d. 1995) is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the great European philosophers of the 20th century. This rise in popularity has been accompanied by an explosion of publications on his work. The aim of this article is to highlight some of the most exemplary work on Deleuze, allowing those interested in his work to navigate the secondary literature. While much work on Deleuze focuses on the application of his philosophy to other disciplines, this article focuses on texts that approach Deleuze from a philosophical perspective. Nonetheless, Deleuze engaged with a number of other fields, most notably politics and aesthetics, and so texts have been included from those fields too. While many of Deleuze’s own works, such as Difference and Repetition (Deleuze 2004a) and the Logic of Sense (Deleuze 2004b), both cited under Single-Authored Philosophical Works, have been very influential, Deleuze first became known in the English-speaking world through his collaborations with Félix Guattari (b. 1930–d. 1992). The most famous of these collaborative projects, the two volumes of A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze and Guattari 2004, cited under Collaborations with Félix Guattari), are written in a very different register, and while the philosophy presented has a number of affinities with the earlier work, there are also differences from that work (the repudiation of structuralism, for instance). This article covers both Deleuze’s solo work and his collaborations with Guattari. It is also worth noting that Deleuze grew up in a French tradition of philosophy that emphasized historical research. Many of his own works are ostensibly about other philosophers but nonetheless develop a distinctively Deleuzian interpretation of the philosopher under consideration. In discussing these works on other philosophers, it is indicated how they might be used to illuminate his or their works. Because Deleuze’s work is often written in an idiosyncratic style and contains a great number of allusions to artists, novelists, and other philosophers, much of the secondary literature is interpretive in nature. More evaluative and critical work is beginning to appear, however, and is represented in this article. This article is divided into different categories, but these are somewhat porous, and so where appropriate, books that are to be found in other categories have also been included in the relevant summary.

General Overviews

Very few books attempt to provide a complete overview of Deleuze’s or Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. One reason for this is the range of areas Deleuze engages with, which includes metaphysics, politics, aesthetics, and the history of philosophy. In addition, it is difficult to do justice to the differences between Deleuze’s own work and his collaborations with Guattari. The best place to begin would be Smith and Protevi 2012, which provides an excellent overview of the range of Deleuze’s work. Dosse 2010 is also good for those who want to read about the development of Deleuze and Guattari, and their relationship to the French intellectual scenes of the times. For those with a knowledge of French, Sauvagnargues 2009 is a comprehensive and philosophically rich study. Zourabichvili 2012 and Martin 2010 provide general accounts of Deleuze’s philosophy and are good starting points, as is May 2005. Hallward 2006 is excellent in many ways, but it is written with the intention of developing a critique of Deleuze and gives a somewhat partial reading of his work. It would therefore be worth reading it alongside a work such as Protevi 2007, which highlights the limitations of Hallward’s interpretation. From other sections of this article, Badiou 2000 (cited under Recent Philosophy) is well worth reading but should be read alongside a more sympathetic account, since Badiou’s aim is to ultimately refute Deleuze’s philosophy (Roffe 2012, in the same section, would be ideal). Alternative ways into Deleuze’s work would be to look at the following two works cited under Collected Essays: Smith 2012 contains essays by perhaps the foremost commentator on Deleuze on most areas of Deleuze’s philosophy, aesthetics, etc., as well as his relationship to central figures in the history of philosophy. Smith and Somers-Hall 2012 is also a useful collection, with papers chosen to be both accessible and scholarly. Smith’s introduction to Deleuze 1997 (cited under Collected Essays and Interviews) is also an excellent survey of Deleuze’s philosophy. Hardt 1993, cited under the History of Philosophy, is also excellent and would serve as an effective way into Deleuze’s thought for those familiar with the work of Spinoza, Nietzsche, or Bergson. Finally, the various introductions to Deleuze’s individual works provide a more detailed engagement with Deleuze’s thought. In particular, the various guides to Difference and Repetition (Hughes 2009, Somers-Hall 2013, Williams 2004, all cited under Guides to Specific Texts) would be a good way into his thought.

  • Dosse, François. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives. Translated by Deborah Glassman. European Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

    A thorough, well-researched exploration of the lives of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as their influence on the French intellectual scene.

  • Hallward, Peter. Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. London: Verso, 2006.

    Hallward’s study of Deleuze misrepresents some fundamental aspects of Deleuze’s philosophy, notably underplaying the role that intensity plays in Deleuze’s thought. As a result, some of Hallward’s criticisms of Deleuze should be taken with a pinch of salt (see Protevi 2007). Hallward nonetheless does a very good job of showing the interrelation of science, philosophy, and art in Deleuze’s thought.

  • Martin, Jean-Clet. Variations: The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Translated by Constantin V. Boundas and Susan Dyrkton. Plateaus. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010.

    Martin’s study provides a thoughtful overview to the main themes of Deleuze’s thought, covering philosophy and aesthetics.

  • May, Todd. Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    One of the clearer introductions to Deleuze’s thought.

  • Protevi, John. Review of Peter Hallward, Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (3 August 2007).

    Protevi’s review provides a good counterpoint to Hallward 2006 and should be read alongside it.

  • Sauvagnargues, Anne. Deleuze: L’empirisme transcendental. Philosophie d’Aujourd’hui. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2009.

    Sauvagnargues presents a detailed and enlightening account of Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism, focusing on Deleuze’s relationship with Kant.

  • Smith, Daniel, and John Protevi. “Gilles Deleuze.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2012.

    An accessible account of the key aspects of Deleuze’s own philosophy, as well as some of the most important responses to him. A good place to begin to orient oneself when approaching Deleuze’s work.

  • Zourabichvili, François. Deleuze: A Philosophy of the Event; Together with The Vocabulary of Deleuze. Edited by Gregg Lambert and Daniel W. Smith. Translated by Kieran Aarons. Plateaus. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

    A short, accessible guide to some of the general themes of Deleuze’s philosophy. The account of Deleuze’s notion of the image of thought and the encounter is particularly worthwhile. Contains a handy glossary.

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