Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)
Gilles Deleuze gives us a sophisticated account of what happens to truth and ethics in a system that does not rely on God—and his thought makes visible how our society understands everything from knowledge and truth to sexuality and identity.
Christopher Watkin, a scholar of French literature and philosophy, presents Deleuze’s work in a way that is accessible to non-philosophers and brings his writing into sustained conversation with prominent biblical themes and with motifs from Reformed theology. As you engage with Deleuze’s thought, you will discover a model of cultural engagement that you can use to understand any contemporary or historical thinker or school.
“Watkin affords the Christian believer another fine entrée to participate in the philosophical life to which all humans are born: to understand both how Gilles Deleuze profoundly voiced our time, and also how very cool (adding to Peter Leithart’s designation of ‘weird’!) is the philosophizing that Christianity engenders. Christianity’s welcoming approach of the gospel breaks in and breaks open human thought and culture, as David Kettle describes it, winsomely rendering it more itself than it could otherwise be. And that’s true of Deleuze just as it was of Plato.”
—Esther Lightcap Meek, Professor of Philosophy, Geneva College; Author, Loving to Know: Introducing Covenant Epistemology
“A dear friend of mine in France seriously questioned his faith by reading Gilles Deleuze. He did return to the gospel, but might have done so sooner had he been able to read Watkin’s excellent volume. The author carefully and masterfully introduces us to Deleuze. One of the philosopher’s great appeals is his creative alternatives to typical atheism. Some of it sounds Christian: his celebration of difference; his critique of the chain of being; his appeal to dynamic, rather than static, ways of living. But it all ends up a brilliant caricature, and Watkin helps us see where Deleuze misses the boat. To boot, his presentation of the Christian worldview is marvelous. Why should any of this matter? If you think you have not been influenced by French poststructuralism, you need to think again. It’s in the cultural air we breathe. Watkin helps us clear away the smog. As someone I sat next to during a rather technical speech told me: ‘I don’t understand a lot of this, but I’m glad the speaker is on our side!’ Watkin does understand it, and he is on our side.”
—William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary
“Cutting through the often-impenetrable language of French poststructuralism, Chris Watkin has done us all a service. Few philosophers of the past fifty years have carried forward Nietzsche’s ‘inverted Platonism’ (i.e., nihilism) more compellingly than Deleuze. Besides letting Deleuze’s own views come through clearly, Watkin supplies an astute critique and hopeful alternative in Christian eschatology.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“As with his previous books on Derrida and Foucault, Christopher Watkin once more demonstrates what an immense blessing he is to the Christian community as he holds our hands and guides us expertly through the complex world of Gilles Deleuze—a world that has shaped, and continues to shape in profound ways, our contemporary Western society. It is the model of Watkin’s engagement that is so important, and at times so discomforting. He will not let us get away with superficial and simplistic descriptions, analyses, and critiques. Rather, he demonstrates the Christian virtue of careful and sympathetic listening so necessary in the process of cultural apologetics and biblical refutation. Finally, as with his other works in this series, one finishes Watkin’s analysis with wonderment, praising God for the depth, the breadth, and the radical nature of the Christian worldview and the person and work of Jesus Christ.”
—Dan Strange, Director, Oak Hill College, London
“The hurricane that was postmodernity may have blown itself out, yet many left to deal with the wreckage still want to know what happened. What, after the ‘death’ of God in the 1960s, was still holding up the edifice of traditional Western philosophy that required further dismantling? One of the best answers I’ve come across yet is in Christopher Watkin’s little gem of a book, on the most important twentieth-century French philosopher you’ve never heard of: Gilles Deleuze. This deep dive into the concept of difference explains why postmodern philosophy is less a footnote to Plato than a crushing of his heel. Getting a better grasp on Deleuze even yields insights into the forces shaping the outlooks and experience of those who belong to Gen X, Y, or Z. Not only that: Watkin’s book comes with a bonus, namely, a comparison and contrast of Deleuze’s way of thinking with that of the Bible. This is must reading for thinking Christians.”
—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Christopher Watkin (MPhil, PhD, Jesus College, Cambridge) researches and writes on modern and contemporary French thought, atheism, and religion. He lectures in French studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, blogs at christopherwatkin.com, and can be found on Twitter @DrChrisWatkin.