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What Is Philosophy?

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,623 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Called by many France's foremost philosopher, Gilles Deleuze is one of the leading thinkers in the Western World. His acclaimed works and celebrated collaborations with Félix Guattari have established him as a seminal figure in the fields of literary criticism and philosophy. The long-awaited publication of What Is Philosophy? in English marks the culmination of Deleuze's ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published May 23rd 1996 by Columbia University Press (first published 1991)
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The last full-length collaboration of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari is incidentally the work that carries the most normal, even entry-level sounding title of their body of work. This is not, as the title might suggest, a book for those who desire to become learned of the history of Western thought. Rather, one should be keenly aware while reading What is Philosophy?, that they are reading through the results of a lifetime of work, a lifetime of work including many many other books. That isn' ...more
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's at least a double kind of misdirection involved in the seemingly innocent title of Deleuze and Guattari's last and powerfully written book: What Is Philosophy? (WIP). To start, this isn't at all a book for beginners, those wandering into philosophy for the first time, looking to get a handle on what exactly all the fuss is about. Written at the twilight of their careers (Guattari would die a year after its publication, Deleuze three years later), WIP is a condensation of two lifetimes of ...more
180114: later addition: another text i tried to read cold, 3 years ago. not easy. i have read much philosophy since, some Bergson is useful as deleuze refers to him, but i cannot yet say i understood it all this time. i did enjoy reading it, and must simply say i am 'confused on a higher plane...', and planes are what they are about here, 'planes of immanence', 'planes of transcendence', various sort of 'thought planes', populated by 'concepts'. i was able, this time, to think of these 'planes' ...more
Alex Lee
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, philosophy
I read this book three times over 10 years, before I really began to appreciate it. In a way, A Thousand Plateau's success kind of blinded people to what Deleuze and Guattari were doing. So this next book, feels more like a snap back. It's not the poetry approach, it's not the postmodernism. Here's an analytic account of concepts. What makes a concept? How does it work?

What is Philosophy comes close to approximating the relationship between domains and logic. But there is still a tendency here t
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Woah. When its clear, its brilliant. The concept, the plane of immanence, conceptual personae, all original and incredibly provocative ideas. I can't help but admire anyone who can create a philosophical system that is so totally its own thing. I don't really have the grounding to understand most of the math and science stuff, and it can get REALLY opaque at times. The stuff on literature and visual art though is really fantastic. For some reason this one line in the conclusion hit me like a bri ...more
Em Laurent
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Deleuze, pace Spinoza, has usurped the great Heraclite for me at this time. My prince of philosophy.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An absolutely incredible text. These two thinkers have been stellar. It is tragic that D&G are resented and despised in the academy. Yes, they are obscure. They have developed new concepts and created a new dimension of thought and discovery. This might sound overly dramatic, but there is deep truth in this work. Reading Deleuze’s other works [on modern philosophy] have helped quite a bit (Spinoza, Leibniz, Bergson, et al). It is easy to dismiss, but when one takes their time, the beauty unfold. ...more
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Intricate and extremely rich, maybe a wee bit complicated for a rookie philosopher (= me), this book allows to grasp the beauty of Deleuze's complex writing, developing some of the authors' favored themes (the "concept", the "plan d'immanence", and interrelationships between philosophy, science and art). ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A waste of time
Cary Aurand
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: passionate philosophers
this is one of the most profound and passionate works of philosophy i have ever read. D&G's last collaboration, it deals with everything from philosophy to psychology to advertising to 18th century french literature (and a strange fascination with Moby Dick). This book will wreck your world and make your head hurt, but it's irresistibly passionate. It's a revitalizing account of what philosophy (and life) should (and cold) be. ...more
нєνєℓ  ¢ανα
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, excellent and captivating...!
Hossein Taghinejad
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Foucault: perhaps one day this century will be known as Deleuzian.
JJ Weber
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think I get Deleuze now. Wish I had read this before reading Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
Devrim Güven
Susan Sontag’s hostility to metaphors evokes Deleuze &Guattari’s What Is Philosophy? (1991) which was published thirteen years after Illness as Metaphor, and which suggests purifying metaphors from the philosophical discourse by replacing them with concepts. Sontag’s text is equally a utopian book dreaming to build a “metaphor-free,” or “metaphor-less” discourse regarding mortal illnesses as cancer and TB.

Excerpt from: Devrim Çetin Güven (2020) (PDF)Foucauldian “Medical Gaze” as an Ideological
Mohammad Abid
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Deleuze best describes this work:
"The question what is philosophy? can perhaps be posed only late in life, with the arrival of old age ...It is a question posed in a moment of quiet restlessness, at midnight, when there is no longer anything to ask. It was asked before; it was always being asked, but too indirectly or obliquely; the question was too artificial, too abstract. "
Alexander Sokol
May 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most meaningless book I have read.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: deleuze
This review functions partially as review and partially as personal annotation.

This book is a phenomenal read. One of the best that I have read in a while. The final work between Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. This book is dense ­– not near as dense as either of the volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia – but dense none the less. When one reads Deleuze and Guattari, it may be best to read them backwards, traveling from What is Philosophy? towards A Thousand Plateaus before moving on to An
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Philosophy Fans
Shelves: philosophy
The question of what philosophy even is recurs often. Few thinkers can leave it alone for long, least of all the French. In a complete rethinking of the problem, Deleuze and Gauttari turn to the world of experience: our sensations, which build into percepts that build out our concepts that build out our propositions. So located, the authors identify philosophy as the creation of the concept. They further identify and describe two other fields of human endeavor, science and art.

Two parts make up
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the two major endeavors of the book: 1) a definition of philosophy as the creation of concepts through the use of conceptual personae and 2) the subsequent comparison of philosophy with art and science when it comes to dealing with chaos. Much of the rest, despite Deleuze's incredible knowledge and insight, felt tangential and even uninteresting. During his (not-so) brief forays into geophilosophy, Godel's theorem, artistic perception, & logical deduction, I often felt the need to skim ...more
Ah, Deleuze and Guattari's last collaboration. The things I love about Deleuze are here, but so are my reservations. Namely the general opacity and the suspicious use of mathematical metaphor. Or not-metaphor, or whatever. But, as always, their observations on art are amazing, and their larger scale philosophical system remains so brilliant. The value of this book lies in their defense of philosophy and the need for such a system. A sort of Deleuze-on-Deleuze. ...more
Mona Kareem
Philosophy is not 'to invent concepts' but 'to create' them! ...more
David M
Obscene graffiti in the margins of Kant.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Mostly nonsense, this one.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nonsense that leads to some interesting ideas.
Ali Jones
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“What is philosophy?” by Deleuze and Guattari is a modern work, but still resembles the possibility of making a complete system of thought – not only in according to philosophy, but also art and science. The explanation of the way the three different disciplines confront chaos is, of course, explained in a philosophical way, although I often saw scientific terms in the book, since it is the way in which these authors write.

Philosophy is about creating concepts which can only be understood and p
Mitchell Chatfield
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Perhaps I’m a bit too un-initiated (or thick) to properly comprehend the text. Or, more likely, various secondary and tertiary sources (Todd May comes to mind) have done a better job than Deleuze and Guattari did in making their ideas accessible without a horrendously broad base of reference.

The introduction of the plane’s across philosophy, art and science is particularly novel, immanence, creation, and sensation respectively. I found the problem arises in particularly the scientific explanati
Kai Wong
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tour de force of profound conclusions that land punch after punch. It's as if D&G just had to get this one out of their system to address an audience that could really use their brilliant visual metaphors/framing to connect the dots within and across philosophy, science, and art.

If you're as interested in the intersection of philosophy x literature or Merleau-Ponty as I am, then Chapter 7: Percept, Affect, and Concept is a must-read, with a barrage of names such as Bakhtin, Pessoa, Proust, Melvi
Michael G
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Messy and eye-crossingly confusing, but fun. Like the best of D&G it's exhilarating in small bursts, overwhelming if taken word by word, and best taken in broad strokes. Also they give you the answer pretty early which is cool - Philosophy is the creation of concepts on a plane of immanence. As a bonus D&G also tell you why Philosophy is not Art, Logic, or Science and what Art, Logic, and Science are instead.

It feels kind of like a late in life philosophy work, D&G play fast and loose with thei
Slava Skobeloff
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oftentimes reading a Deleuze book is placing the entirety of your faith in the author--there are definitely moments where it feels as if he meanders too much, or references scientific research/modern art that is so obscure you wonder if there is really anyone who bothers to research every name that he mentions.

However by the end of the book it all comes together beautifully. Deleuze, like any magnificent philosopher, has a very specific, and sometimes antagonistic (you might say) view of philos
Eric Phetteplace
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
Maybe my least favorite Deleuze, certainly the worst D&G. I enjoyed about two-and-a-half of the nine sections. It did end strong, as the final two sections (on art and then the conclusion) were the best. I disliked the book because it felt very schematic at times, there was a lot of defining and differentiating terms, setting up SAT analogies (science : functives :: philosphy : concepts). I was so disinterested that it took me forever to finish, I kept putting the book down and only finally fini ...more
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Deleuze is a key figure in postmodern French philosophy. Considering himself an empiricist and a vitalist, his body of work, which rests upon concepts such as multiplicity, constructivism, difference and desire, stands at a substantial remove from the main traditions of 20th century Continental thought. His thought locates him as an influential figure in present-day considerations of society, crea ...more

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138 likes · 32 comments
“philosophy is the discipline that involves creating concepts” .” 10 likes
“We head for the horizon, on the plane of immanence, and we return with bloodshot eyes, yet they are the eyes of the mind.” 3 likes
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