The Metaphor and the Literal- language and Deleuze

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2012


With this project I will provide a reading of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze emphasizing the role of language. While language was obviously of concern to Deleuze, it remains for the most part only indirectly engaged throughout his works. In part, this absence of a philosophy of language stems from his unwillingness to give semiotics and linguistics the primacy that they enjoyed in France throughout his career, however I will argue that the explicit lack of a philosophy of language is more accurately a consequence of Deleuze's practice of an implicit one (eg. That the Anti-Oedipus is, before it is a critique of capitalism and schizophrenia, an intentional doing of Deleuze's philosophy of language). I will show that an understanding of language within Deleuze's works is a privileged “way in,” and moreover provides a connecting thread that will make his project both more radical and potentially more cohesive. Beginning with the categories of actual and virtual, and Deleuze's ideas of becoming (individuation, ontogenesis, and the crystal), I will move towards a critique and an exploration of the ideas of metaphoricity and literality, which are initially salient following Deleuze's relational ontology and emphasis that “language is syntax.” Influenced predominantly by the deleuzian commentator Francois Zourabichvili, I will push towards a philosophy of language in which the originary dualism of the metaphor (and likewise of language) of “proper” and “figurative” senses is undone, and in turn the metaphoricity of language will become literal. From this point we can begin to understand language's individuating, ontogenetic, role. It will be my aim to not only subject Deleuze's use of metaphor to this theory, revealing that the brain is a grass, and we are lines, but furthermore to subject this theory of language to Deleuze's metaphors (to understand language as rhizomatic,and as terms deterritorialized), in turn complicating and enmeshing both. The tacit drive of this research is to consider what it means to “believe” a philosopher, and what it means to “do” philosophy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Malek Moazzam-Doulat


Religious Studies


Ford Research Mentors Endowment

This document is currently not available here.