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What is Philosophy? (Deleuze and Guattari)

What is Philosophy? (French: Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?) is a 1991 book by French authors Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, respectively a philosopher and a psychoanalyst.

What is Philosophy?
What is Philosophy (French edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorsGilles Deleuze
Félix Guattari
Original titleQu'est-ce que la philosophie?
TranslatorsHugh Tomlinson
Graham Burchell
SubjectsPhilosophy of science
Philosophy of mathematics
  • 1991 (Les éditions de Minuit, in French)
  • 1994 (Columbia University Press, in English)
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages256 (1996 Columbia University Press edition)



Deleuze commented in a letter to one of his translators that his purpose in writing What is Philosophy? was to address "the problem of absolute immanence" and to explain why he considered Baruch Spinoza the "prince of philosophers."[1]


Deleuze and Guattari deal with the distinction between philosophy and science, arguing that the former deals with concepts and the latter with functions. They discuss the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mathematics.[2]


The physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, writing in Fashionable Nonsense (1997), state that What is Philosophy became a best-seller in France in 1991. They argue that in attempting to show how philosophy and science are distinct, Deleuze and Guattari use scientific terms such as "chaos" in incorrect or misleading ways, and that while in some passages they seem to discuss serious problems in the philosophy of science and mathematics, these passages prove to be largely meaningless on close inspection.[2]

The philosopher Roger Scruton, writing in Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (2016), criticized What is Philosophy?, describing it as poorly written.[3]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Deleuze 1990, p. 11.
  2. ^ a b Sokal & Bricmont 1999, pp. 155–159.
  3. ^ Scruton 2016, pp. 192–193.