Foucault and Deleuze: Making a Difference with Nietzsche


  • Wendy Grace University of Western Australia



Foucault, Deleuze, Nietzsche, Difference, Power, Force


Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze are regarded as French “Nietzscheans” par excellence. By drawing attention to the articulation of “difference” in contemporary thought, this paper attempts to go beyond the label ‘Nietzschean’ in an effort to discern two distinct philosophical trajectories inspired by Nietzsche.  I suggest that Deleuze reads Nietzsche as an empiricist whose philosophy of nature critically undermines representational modes of thought from Plato to Hegel and beyond.  Difference is therefore given in itself.  Foucault, on the other hand, reads Nietzsche primarily as a historian of culture, whose radical reflection on language pushes philosophy into new interpretative forms of analysis that seriously confronts the role of political power in the production of truth.  Difference is thus invented and only known within the contours of these fabrications.  While no judgement is made about the accuracy or otherwise of their respective interpretations of Nietzsche, this paper implicitly asks whether a Nietzschean genealogical ethos can inform those political struggles today for which the meaning of difference is contested.

Author Biography

Wendy Grace, University of Western Australia

Wendy Grace completed her doctorate in 2010, with the thesis Michel Foucault’s Power: A History of Sexuality Beyond the Desires of French Psychoanalysis. She has published an article on Foucault and Deleuze as “Faux Amis” in Critical Inquiry (2009), a chapter on “Foucault and the Freudians” in the Blackwell Companion to Foucault (2013), and is the author, with Alec McHoul of A Foucault Primer (1992). Wendy has taught on Foucault and 20th century French intellectual history, and is currently teaching the history of anthropological ideas at Murdoch University. Her main area of research interest is the scientific uncoupling of pleasure and procreation in the nineteenth century.




How to Cite

Grace, W. (2014). Foucault and Deleuze: Making a Difference with Nietzsche. Foucault Studies, (17), 99–116.



Special Issue on Foucault and Deleuze