From Chaos and Back

Philosophy and Non-Philosophy in Deleuze and Guattari

Simone A. Medina Polo
5 min readAug 12, 2022

[This is the last piece of this 4-part series on Gilles Deleuze which were originally written for Keith Faulkner’s 2022 seminar on Deleuze]

In What is Philosophy?, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari dedicate one of the final chapters to art as one of the non-philosophies that philosophy finds itself related to as part of its internal conditions — the other is science (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 41 and 109). This is so critical to this text that they address it in their conclusive paragraph:

The plane of philosophy is prephilosophical insofar as we consider it in itself independently of the concepts that come to occupy it, but nonphilosophy is found where the plane confronts chaos. Philosophy needs a nonphilosophy that comprehends it; it needs a nonphilosophical comprehension just as art needs nonart and science needs nonscience (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 218).

The table below helps us illustrate these distinctions made between philosophy, art, and science as well as how each of these disciplines has their own plane, their own creations, and their own articulations by which to accomplish their respective creative act.

It is worth noting that Deleuze and Guattari’s approach to non-philosophy is rather distinct than those set out by their contemporaries, Alain Badiou and François Laruelle. In Badiou, these non-philosophies are still conditions of philosophy. However, in Badiou’s case, these conditions are science, art, love, and politics. (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 151–153; Badiou, 2007, 15–17 and 340). Furthermore, these conditions are procedures by which truth is generated at the level of philosophy by the irruption of an event that disrupt any constructed coherence instituted by the body of knowledge (Badiou, 2007, 314, 327 and 343). Insofar as we are concerned with truth, philosophy is at the service truth that are generated by its conditions which means philosophy is also in the service of its conditions, as the emergence of truth attests to a rupture of the real in what “there is” (Badiou, 2007, 340 and 341; Badiou, 2009, 4 and 5). Laruelle, by contrast, looks to suspend philosophical authority and decisions altogether to further non-philosophy as the real (of) science which sets philosophy at work as raw materials of a heretical pragmatism that has the last word as determinations in the last instance (Laruelle, 2013, 20–21)

Nonetheless, these final passages of What is Philosophy? attest to the point in which philosophy, art, and science become indiscernible as their respective creations become undecidable — namely that the inaugural plane of their respective conditions of possibility is laid out over chaos, and each of disciplines returns from chaos with their own imports: philosophy brings variations, art brings variety, and science brings variables (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 202). Each of these disciplines set themselves out to work through a transversal cut of the chaos that they struggle with just as they struggle with the fixity of opinions which claims to protect us from the chaos, for each of these projects makes decisions as they attempt to generate chaoid realities out of the intensity of the chaos: art composes the chaos to provoke sensations, science coordinates and sets out references in the chaos turned into Nature, and philosophy’s concept is the chaos rendered consistent as Thought (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 204–208). In short, each of these disciplines takes a cut from chaos to captivate something of the chaos in its creations, which in turn challenges the opinions that turn away from chaos to harbor itself in a fixation of sterility.

The chaos from which each of these disciplines set out their respective planes persists, especially as their respective cuts of the chaos dissolve back into the chaos in the form of the indiscernible and undecisive. This is distinct from Badiou insofar as he argues that the decision that forces the consequences of the truth-event through in philosophy is once and for all, as there is no going back and at most it may deny it or obscure it (Badiou, 2007, 223–231; Badiou, 2009, 50–62). And this is also distinct from Laruelle, who argues that non-philosophy plunges into the chaos from the outset “in order to formulate rules beyond this chaos, rather than in conjunction with it” — in this sense, for Laruelle, the fact that philosophy and the non-philosophies work in conjunction with the chaos only restate the pretense that we must sufficiently philosophize as a certainty of philosophy’s own authority insofar as it claims that “there is philosophy” which ultimately limits immanence itself in the last instance (Laruelle, 2013, 9 and 12–13; Laruelle, 2012, 57).

To this extent, Deleuze, like Badiou, returns to philosophy and allows immanence to be characterized by this return to philosophy through the plane of immanence — nonetheless, Deleuze’s spares only footnote responses back at Laruelle in claiming that this real (of) science that Laruellean non-philosophy claims itself to be may as well be a nonscience as well (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 234). This critique is sparce, but an essay by Jacob Vangeest helps extrapolate this critique as a critique of Laruelle’s unrealized position — as Vangeest notes, Deleuze and Guattari focus themselves on the relationship between thought and material, whereas Laruelle entrenches himself in exposing the limitations of thought which goes nowhere to the point that it can be claimed that non-philosophy in the Laruellean sense does not exist (Vangeest, 2021). By contrast, Deleuze’s philosophy is in constant exploration of the possibility of what philosophy and non-philosophy can do as creative acts.

References and Citations:

Badiou, Alain. Being and Event. Trans. Oliver Feltham. U.S.A.: Continuum, 2007.

— — — Being and Event II: Logics of Worlds. Trans. Alberto Toscano. U.S.A.: Continuum, 2009.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. What is Philosophy? Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Laruelle, François. Philosophy and Non-Philosophy. Trans. Taylor Adkins. Minneapolis: Univocal Publishing, 2013.

— — — “I, the Philosophy, Am Lying: A Reply to Deleuze” in The Non-Philosophy Project: Essays by François Laruelle. Ed. Gabriel Alkon and Boris Gunjevic. Trans. Ray Brassier. New York: Telos Press Publishing, 2012. Pg 36–73.

Vangeest, Jacob. “Non-Philosophy Does Not Exist.” Medium (January 5, 2021):



Simone A. Medina Polo

Simone A. Medina Polo is a philosopher and an PhD candidate at the Global Centre for Advanced Studies for Philosophy and Psychoanalysis.