Volume 5, Issue 11, Winter 2010
Robert T. Tally Jr.
The ‘Early’ Deleuze and the History of Philosophy
Deleuze’s career is frequently divided between his “early” monographs devoted to the history of philosophy and his more mature work, including the collaborations with Félix Guattari, written “in his own voice.” Yet Deleuze’s early work is integral to the later writings; far from merely summarizing Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson, or Spinoza, Deleuze transforms their thought in such a way that they become new, fresh, and strange. Deleuze’s distaste for the Hegelian institution of the history of philosophy is overcome by his peculiar approach to it, by which he transforms the project into something else, a nomadography that projects an alternative line of flight, not only allowing Deleuze to “get out” of the institution, but allowing us to re-imagine it in productive new ways. Deleuze’s nomad thinkers are like sudden, bewildering eruptions of “joyful wisdom” in an apparent continuum of stable meanings, standard commentaries, settled thought. The early Deleuze, by engaging these thinkers, discovered a new way of doing philosophy.