Structuralist heroes and points of heresy: recognizing Gilles Deleuze’s (anti-)structuralism

Continental Philosophy Review 55 (2):215-234 (2021)
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This article is concerned with the status and stakes of Gilles Deleuze’s “break” with structuralism. With a particular focus on a transitional text of Deleuze, the 1967/1972 article “How Do We Recognize Structuralism?,” it asks how Deleuze understood structuralism and why, after his encounter with Félix Guattari and Guattari’s own transitional text, 1969’s “Machine and Structure,” Deleuze felt the need to break with structuralism. It argues that reading these two texts together allows us to see that Deleuze already perceived tensions within the structuralist project, and argues that Guattari’s non-structural account of the machine allowed Deleuze to clarify this perception, and see it as necessitating a departure from structuralism. To close, however, it turns to recent work by philosophers such as Étienne Balibar and Patrice Maniglier that re-examines the structuralist moment and identifies an ongoing legacy that the “poststructuralism” of Deleuze and Guattari may be part of. By considering Deleuze and Guattari’s break with structuralism in light of this work, this article considers how the polemical rejection of structuralism by Deleuze and Guattari may not fully account for the ongoing legacy of the structuralist program and the persistence of a structuralist problematic in their thought.

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Iain Campbell
University of Edinburgh


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