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In the name of Nietzsche : Deleuze and the aesthetic dimension of thought

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posted on 26.05.2017, 07:36 by Lane, David Stewart
In this thesis, I examine the aesthetic dimension of language and thought that Gilles Deleuze affirms in his work. I argue that this dimension remains irreducible to the explanatory power of the concept and thus renders problematic any univocal understanding of the conceptual claims of his philosophy. While the material quality of language is essential to the communication of philosophical ideas, there is a paradoxical relationship between this materiality and Deleuze’s various arguments on the status of fiction, the power of the false and the aesthetic conditions of existence. By investigating Deleuze’s self-positioning in relation to key declarations by Friedrich Nietzsche on the value of art and sensibility against ‘erroneous’ conceptions of truth as a form of transcendence, I propose that Deleuze’s work manifests a contradiction between the conceptual arguments it advances and the excess of meaning that is conveyed through the material dimension of language within which these arguments are necessarily made. I explore the difficulties of the aesthetic dimension of Deleuze’s thought by analysing his method of portraying Nietzsche’s philosophy and the function, character and meaning he imparts to the proper name of ‘Nietzsche’ – especially as Deleuze situates this conceptual persona agonistically against the proper names of ‘Hegel’ and ‘Plato.’ In my reading of Deleuze, I engage with recent interpretations of his work – most notably those provided by Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou – that illuminate different facets of the complex question surrounding the aesthetic conditions of philosophy. While Rancière highlights an aporia between the ‘ontological’ and ‘aesthetic’ principles that guide Deleuze in his approach towards the work of art, Badiou attempts to undermine Deleuze’s aesthetic gestures as he reformulates the conditions and proper operation of philosophical truth. With reference to these interpretations of Deleuze, I maintain that the relationship between the philosophical concept and its material form of presentation remains an open and fertile problem for future critical inquiry into Deleuze’s work.


Principal supervisor

Alison Ross

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts