Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

13 Things You Didn’t Know About Deleuze and Guattari – Part III

Some interesting anecdotes


#11 Foucault saw Deleuze as a rival

Some may find it surprising that the author of “Anti-Oedipus’” glowing introduction kind of hated the book. While Michel Foucault put on airs of amicability towards Deleuze, he was secretly jealous of Deleuze’s popularity. A close friend of Foucault’s claimed “I got the feeling that Foucault saw Deleuze as a rival.”

The rivalry rarely manifested publicly, Deleuze and Foucault could often be seen at public protests together, and Foucault even offered Deleuze a job in his philosophy department (which Deleuze had to initially refuse due to a prior commitment). Foucault even join the ranks of Nietzsche and Spinoza when Deleuze wrote “Foucault.”

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#12 Deleuze worked in a philosophy department headed by Foucault that lost its ability to give out diplomas

After the events of May ’68, Paris-VIII, also known as Vincennes, was created to be a refuge for radical students. A committee of 20 peoples that included Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes set out to model Vincennes after MIT. Michel Foucault was named the head of the philosophy department.  While Deleuze could not initially work at Vincennes, he later joined a staff that was comprised of Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Judith Miller.

If you wondered what could go wrong in a department filled with radicals and communists, the answer is everything. Students tore open ceilings to see “if the police had bugged the rooms” and matters of administration were often seen as fascist coups. Department members invited friends to teach classes, many of whom would not even show up for class.

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Editorial comment: Foucault did not head the department for long- barely a year in 1969. I was enrolled in a degree there in the early 1980s and it was still pretty anarchic at that stage.I attended Deleuze’s lectures on cinema in a packed and very large room filled with cigarette smoke. Amongst other lectures I attended were some of Jacques Rancière’s seminar series on Marx and the Paris Commune of 1871. There was a small group of around 10 people in attendance.

5 thoughts on “Foucault and Deleuze. Commentary on the Critical Theory site

  1. edmundberger says:

    #11 is one I find particularly interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did Foucault mention in the footnotes of ‘Discipline and Punish’ that ‘Anti-Oedipus’ was extremely pertinent to his work?

  2. Mauro Bertani says:

    # 11: No, not psychology, please. The disagreement between Deleuze and Foucault has been political, and was mainly concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the problem of terrorism in Italy and Germany.

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