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Deleuze: Monism is Pluralism


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including Philosophy of Mind, or Concepts of Selfhood.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


In this course we will focus on Gilles Deleuze’s Différence et répétition (Difference and Repetition), published in 1968. We will upack this complicated book in two steps. In the first few weeks, we will discuss Deleuze’s practice of reading. Most notably his creative rephrasing of the philosophy of Nietzsche in Nietzsche et la philosophie (Nietzsche and Philosophy) and Spinoza in Spinoza – Philosophie pratique (Spinoza: Practical Philosophy). This will show that he reads Nietzsche in terms of Spinoza (hihlighlighting that Nietzsche’s pluralism can only be understood as a monism) while he reads Spinoza in terms of Nietzsche (indicating that Spinoza’s monism only makes sense when it is interpreted as a pluralism). Together these two creative re-readings constistute the paradoxical formula PLURALISM = MONISM which underlies Deleuze’s philosophy of difference. Against this background we will slowly go through the five chapters of Différence et repetition. This will immediately reveal a contrast between the clarity of Deleuze’s works on others (e.g., Nietzsche and Spinoza) and the relative obscurity of the book in which he tries to articulate his own philosophy. As will become clear throughout the course, this obscurity is a direct result of Deleuze’s attempt to dramatize concepts (rather than representing them). We will discuss the challenges this ‘dramatization of concepts’ creates for a reader of Différence et repetition and how these challgenges can be made productive. This will allow us to get a better understanding of the notions ‘difference in itself’ and ‘repetition for itself’ and how they relate to each other.

Course objectives

This course aim to provide the students with a clear view of:

  • Deleuze’s creative reading practice;

  • the new type of philosophy that is engendered through this practice;

  • the rationale behind this conception of philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Deleuze’s Différence et repetition;

  • the way in which Deleuze incorporates the work of philosophers like Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche ,and Bergson in his own philosophy of difference and links them to each other.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Midterm essay (2,000 words)

  • Final essay (2,500 words)

Non-graded practical exercises:

  • Each student has to prepare a set of comments/questions for at least one of the seminars.

  • Each student has to hand in a proposal for the final essay and discuss it in smaller groups.

These two exercises will not be graded, but are required for getting admission to the exam (final paper).


  • Midterm essay (30%)

  • Final essay (70%)

The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the two subtests.


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once (100%), consisting of an essay of 4,500 words. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for subtest. Class participation is required for taking the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Deleuze’s Différence et répétition (Difference and Repetition).

  • Selections from Deleuze’s Nietzsche et la philosophie (Nietzsche and Philosophy).

  • Selections from Deleuze’s Spinoza – Philosophie pratique (Spinoza: Practical Philosophy).

  • Selected secondary material.

Students are advised to purchase the French, English (or Dutch) version of Différence et repetition (the English translation by Paul Patton will be used in the course). Other texts will be distributed or can be found online through the library.


Enrolment through uSis for this course is not possible. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.