Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Mary Beth Mader

Committee Member

Deborah Tollefsen

Committee Member

Bill Lawson

Committee Member

Somogy Varga


This dissertation argues for an interpretation of Gilles Deleuze's theory of the mind and of action which, by means of the concept of a social group agent, can serve as the basis for a novel political theory. Drawing on recent scholarship on Deleuze which emphasizes the significance of Immanuel Kant's influence on his work, the first chapter argues that Deleuze's Difference and Repetition presents a theory of the mind which is largely in line with Kant's project, but which presents a more dynamic and developmental picture of the mind. Deleuze presents the mind as the product of the interaction of three synthetic faculties, habit, memory, and thought, and argues that they can function both in concert, taking the same object and producing empirical representation, or dynamically and serially, permitting learning when encountering new phenomena. The second chapter argues that Deleuze has a unique theory of action, drawing from Spinoza, Kant, and Nietzsche, which distinguishes action from habitual behavior by means of the presence of a rule constructed by the agent through thought. The third chapter argues that, given this theory of the mind and of action, along with Deleuze's argument that a multiplicity must have both material and virtual parts, social groups of a sufficient level of organization, such as commercial corporations, are metaphysically individual agents. Finally, the fourth chapter argues that if large social groups, such as nations, are also individual agents, Deleuze's distinction between action and habit lines up with H. L. A. Hart's distinction between social practices and social rules and explains why latter exert normative force on the members of a social group. Finally, these concepts are applied to Deleuze's own social philosophy, in Anti-Oedipus, to shed light on Deleuze's concepts of social machines and social inscription.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.