The following blog post contains some of the most pretentious sounding sentences I have ever had the need to type. A thesaurus may have helped in terms of brevity, but it sounds much fancier this way so I intend to keep it as so.
Gilles Deleuze’s owed his contributions to philosophy to his teachers and to various figures who inspired him, including Jean-Paul Sartre. Deleuze agregated in philosophy in 1948 and taught at various French post-secondary establishments until he took up a position at the Sorbonne in ’57. He suffered throughout his life with a debilitating pulmonary condition that grew in severity as his death loomed closer. Though he had a lung removed, the disease spread and he was forced to undergo a tracheotomy and he lost his power of speech. In the last few years of his life, even writing by hand were considered Herculean tasks and in 1995 he committed suicide by throwing himself from his apartment window. His autobiography shares that when once asked to talk about his life, he said “Academics’ lives are seldom interresting.”
His works can be separated into two groups: his monographs interpreting the work of other philosophers, and various philosophical works organized by concept.
One of his main projects was (I accredit the following large words to the internet, where from I stole them) essentially a ‘systematic inversion of the traditional metaphysical relationship between identity and difference’. (Basically, he disagrees to a certain level.) Wikipedia nicely sums up the traditional view: “Traditionally, difference is seen as derivative from identity: e.g., to say that “X is different from Y” assumes some X and Y with at least relatively stable identities.”
Deleuze claimed that identities are effects of difference, and that identities are neither logically nor metaphysically prior to difference, “Given that there exist differences of nature between things of the same genus.” Essentially, no two things are ever the same and the categories with which we identify them derive from differences. His argument stated that apparent identities such as “x” are made up of infinite differences, where “x” = the difference between “y” and “z”, and “y” = the difference between “a” and “b” and so on. Deleuze claimed that to honestly confront the concept of reality, we must grasp beings precisely how they are, and the concepts of identity (categories, resemblances, forms, etc) fail to attain what he has entitled “difference in itself.” He once said that “If philosophy has a positive and direct relation to things, it is only insofar as philosophy claims to grasp the thing itself, according to what it is, in its difference from everything it is not, in other words, in its internal difference.”
Many of his other beliefs in the realm of metaphysics ran parallel to those of Immanuel Kant.
“What do you know about me, given that I believe in secrecy? … If I stick where I am, if I don’t travel around, like anyone else I make my inner journeys that I can only measure by my emotions, and express very obliquely and circuitously in what I write. … Arguments from one’s own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments.”