Deleuze and the meaning of life

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Abstract

Life did not exist In The Order of Things Foucault makes the claim that until the eighteenth century ‘life did not exist’ (Foucault 1994: 128). The concept of life was not one concept among others but allowed for the construction of a new plane or ‘historical a priori’. If man had been, as Foucault notes, a political animal this was because his humanity was created through the social relations he established through speech and action. When ‘man’ becomes an epiphenomenon of life then his political being is no longer constitutive of who he is; rather his political being might now be explained by reference back to certain exigencies of life. Man speaks and works because he must live. All those seemingly radical movements of the twentieth century such as structuralism, anthropology, psychoanalysis, phenomenology and late Marxism are normalising reterritorialisations: man's being can now be explained and managed according to the exigencies of life from which he emerges. If Deleuze affirms Foucault's capacity for diagrams and relations he also distinguishes his own concept of desire from Foucault's concept of power. Foucault had argued that the late nineteenth-century discourses of life, labour and language could be transformed when literature no longer appeared as emerging from life. Literature would disclose a divergent, multiple and machinic logic no longer governed by a vital impulse (Deleuze 1988: 131). But, Deleuze argues, we can also discern these forces of the outside in transformed discourses of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDeleuze and Philosophy
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Pages121-132
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780748627196
ISBN (Print)9780748624799
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Colebrook, C. (2005). Deleuze and the meaning of life. In Deleuze and Philosophy (pp. 121-132). Edinburgh University Press.