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The Deleuze-Lucretius Encounter

Ryan J. Johnson

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Explores how Deleuze's thought was shaped by Lucretian atomism – a formative but often-ignored influence from ancient philosophy

More than any other 20th-century philosopher, Deleuze considers himself an apprentice to the history of philosophy. But scholarship has ignored one of the more formative influences on Deleuze: Lucretian atomism. Deleuze’s encounter with Lucretius sparked a way of thinking that resonates throughout all his writings: from immanent ontology to affirmative ethics, from dynamic materialism to the generation of thought itself. Filling a significant gap in Deleuze Studies, Ryan J. Johnson tells the story of the Deleuze-Lucretius encounter that begins and ends with a powerful claim: Lucretian atomism produced Deleuzianism.



  1. Deleuze and the adventure of ideas
  2. The atomic idea
  3. Differentiation, individuation, dramatisation, and actualisation
  4. The encounter in sense and thought
  5. Ethics in the Garden of Epicurus

Conclusion: The encounter

About the Author

Ryan J. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Elon University in North Carolina. He is committed to exploring the vibrant relationships among contemporary philosophy and literature and history of philosophy, especially ancient Hellenistic and Roman thought. He is co-editor of and contributor to The Movement of Nothingness: Trust in the Emptiness of Time (Davies Group Publishers, 2012).


Readers will be surprised and charmed at the parallels Ryan Johnson finds between Deleuze and Lucretius. The lines he draws from Ancient atomist ideas about relations, movements, and speeds, through to Deleuzian materialism are exciting and convincing. The book is packed with interesting ideas and twists and is exacting in its scholarship. On top of that, it is beautifully written.

- Jay Lampert, Duquesne University

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