Deleuze Gilles

Deleuze Gilles

(1925-1995) French poststructuralist philosopher who most famously collaborated with Felix GUATTARI to critique Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex. Deleuze studied philosophy at the Sorbonne between 1944 and 1948 where he worked under Georges Canguilhem, Foucault's doctoral supervisor, and Jean Hyppolite, French translator of HEGEL's phenomenology During the 1960s Deleuze produced his major individual study Difference and Repetition (1969). In this work Deleuze argued that a philosophy which could understand the endless play of difference and repetition should take over from structural knowledge which emphasised the relationship between the same and representation. Against the Hegelian quest for absolute knowledge, Deleuze discussed the need for a shift towards horizontal thought. Referring to the concept of the rhizome, he showed how difference could over-code previously fixed boundaries and move beyond the structuralist emphasis on the value of vertical knowledge.

In his 1962 work, Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze argued that the idea of rhizomatic movement could be seen to follow the notion of the free play of forces which NIETZSCHE used to problematize the subject/object split. Following Nietzsche's theory, Deleuze argued that categories such as subject/object should be understood as values rather than truth. By overturning the singular and positing the multiple in such a way, Deleuze sought to emphasize the role of difference. His two-volume work with radical psychoanalyst Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Volume I (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Volume II (1980), expanded upon this thesis by critiquing Freud's theory of the unitary ego, the desiring subject, and the Oedipus complex. For Deleuze and Guattari, Freud's conception of familial repression represented a reductivist categorisation and the imposition of vertical knowledge on a rhizomatic condition. In contrast to Freud, the two volumes ofCapitalism and Schizophrenia argue that Oedipal repression is a psychoanalytic mythology which familizes a process of top-down capitalist oppression. See also: BATTAILLE, FREUD, ORDER/DIS-ORDER.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000