Gilles Deleuze: Biography


Gilles Deleuze (January 18, 1925–November 4, 1995) is known as one of the most provocative and influential figures in philosophy of the twentieth century, who became famous not only in France but also worldwide. The ideas and teachings of Deleuze had a significant impact on the development of modern philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, and art. The purpose of this paper is to discuss Deleuze’s biography, his specific philosophical ideas, and his contribution to modern philosophy.

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Biography of Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze was born in Paris, where he spent most of his life with his family and children. The philosopher’s parents were conservative, and they belonged to the French middle class. Deleuze received elementary education in a public school in Paris, and then he attended Lycée Henri IV to undertake intensive preparatory studies to enter the higher educational institution (Smith and Protevi). Being interested in philosophy, Deleuze chose to continue his education at Sorbonne University and study the history of philosophy.

After graduating from Sorbonne University, the philosopher continued his research activity and worked as a teacher at various lyceums and other educational institutions in Paris. During that period, Deleuze married Fanny Grandjouan, who was known as a French translator of D. H. Lawrence, and they raised two children together.

In 1953, the philosopher published his first work Empiricism and Subjectivity on the teachings by David Hume. Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962) were published only in about ten years. However, these writings allowed Deleuze to gain his reputation as a specialist in the history of philosophy who had a unique view. The same success was associated with such publications as Kant’s Critical Philosophy (1963), Proust and Signs (1964), and then Bergsonism published in 1966 (Smith and Protevi). In 1968, Deleuze published Difference and Repetition that is often regarded as his main philosophical work.

A new period in Deleuze’s life began as he joined the faculty at the University of Paris VIII in 1969, where he worked until 1987. In the 1970s, the philosopher started a collaboration with Félix Guattari, a psychoanalyst who was known for his radical position. They wrote Anti-Oedipus (1972), Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975), and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), which influenced the philosophical ideas spread in the latter part of the twentieth century (Smith and Protevi). In the 1980s, Deleuze worked independently on several writings, but in the 1990s, the outcomes of his prolonged respiratory disease did not allow him to work effectively, and the man committed suicide in 1995.

Philosophical Ideas

Deleuze’s key philosophical idea is that the nature of relationships is in observed events that cannot be evaluated with reference to the opposition between the good and bad, as it is typical for dialectic philosophy. Thus, there is no clear opposition between two characteristics describing the nature of events in Deleuze’s philosophy. The focus of the philosopher is on the immanent nature of events and experiences in spite of regarding his approach as transcendental.

Additionally, the focus is also on the concept of multiplicity instead of the idea of substance and the notion of virtuality instead of the idea of possibility. From this perspective, the philosophy of Deleuze was discussed by other authors as close to metaphysics, and the philosopher also supported that idea (Smith and Protevi). From this perspective, according to Deleuze, existence, time, and thought to develop as heterogeneous dimensions that form a transcendental reality that cannot be associated with some form of the experience.

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All these ideas form Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism based on the understanding of reality and relationships through their differential and immanent nature. The philosopher applied these notions to formulate his vision of empirical ethics as the immanent evaluation of existence and thought that is not equal to traditional transcendental and dialectical ideas. These visions were later developed in Deleuze’s work on the desire to belong not to a subject but to society (Smith and Protevi).

As a result, the social desire can form a reality through intensified production to achieve the associated goals. These ideas are rather difficult for understanding, but they allow for regarding transcendental philosophy and metaphysical teachings from a new perspective.

Deleuze’s Contribution to History of Philosophy

Deleuze is the author of works in such areas as the history of philosophy, politics, art, cinema, and literature, along with his philosophical treatises on transcendental empiricism and other ideas. The man significantly contributed to the development of philosophy in the twentieth century as he proposed a unique perspective of assessing and applying the ideas by Spinoza and Kant (Smith and Protevi). Furthermore, Deleuze paid much attention to explaining his specific vision of the logic of the thought and sense in order to understand how these components form a person’s reality.


It is important to note that Deleuze’s vision of transcendentalism of the difference and his teaching regarding immanence influenced other philosophers’ views and ideas. His focus on events instead of the substance and the concertation on multiplicity and virtuality provided a new vision in the context of metaphysics. As a result, Deleuze’s ideas remain to be regarded as rather innovative and related to postmodern philosophy.

Work Cited

Smith, Daniel, and John Protevi. “Gilles Deleuze.Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2018. Web.

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