Foucault and Deleuze: Making a Difference with Nietzsche


Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze are regarded as French “Nietzscheans” par excellence. By drawing attention to the articulation of “difference” in contemporary thought, this paper attempts to go beyond the label ‘Nietzschean’ in an effort to discern two distinct philosophical trajectories inspired by Nietzsche.  I suggest that Deleuze reads Nietzsche as an empiricist whose philosophy of nature critically undermines representational modes of thought from Plato to Hegel and beyond.  Difference is therefore given in itself.  Foucault, on the other hand, reads Nietzsche primarily as a historian of culture, whose radical reflection on language pushes philosophy into new interpretative forms of analysis that seriously confronts the role of political power in the production of truth.  Difference is thus invented and only known within the contours of these fabrications.  While no judgement is made about the accuracy or otherwise of their respective interpretations of Nietzsche, this paper implicitly asks whether a Nietzschean genealogical ethos can inform those political struggles today for which the meaning of difference is contested

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