Félix Guattari

Pierre-Félix Guattari (/ɡwəˈtɑːri/; French: [ɡwataʁi] (listen) ; April 30, 1930 – August 29, 1992) was a French psychotherapist, philosopher, semiologist, and activist. He founded both schizoanalysis and ecosophy, and is best known for his intellectual collaborations with Gilles Deleuze, most notably Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

Pierre-Félix Guattari
Born(1930-04-30)April 30, 1930
DiedAugust 29, 1992(1992-08-29) (aged 62)
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism[1]
InstitutionsUniversity of Paris VIII
Main interests
Psychoanalysis, politics, ecology, semiotics
Notable ideas
Assemblage, desiring-production, deterritorialization, ecosophy, schizoanalysis


Clinic of La Borde

Guattari was born in Villeneuve-les-Sablons, a working-class suburb of north-west Paris, France.[2] He trained under (and was analysed by) the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan in the early 1950s. Subsequently, he worked all his life at the experimental psychiatric clinic of La Borde under the direction of Lacan's pupil, the psychiatrist Jean Oury. La Borde was a venue for conversation among many students of philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and social work.

One particularly novel orientation developed at La Borde consisted of the suspension of the classical analyst/analysand pair in favour of an open confrontation in group therapy. In contrast to the Freudian school's individualistic style of analysis, this practice studied the dynamics of several subjects in complex interaction; it led Guattari into a broader philosophical exploration of, and political engagement with, a vast array of intellectual and cultural domains (philosophy, ethnology, linguistics, architecture, etc.).

1960s to 1970s

From 1955 to 1965, Guattari edited and contributed to La Voie Communiste (Communist Way), a Trotskyist newspaper.[3] He supported anti-colonialist struggles as well as the Italian Autonomists. Guattari also took part in the G.T.P.S.I., which gathered many psychiatrists at the beginning of the sixties and created the Association of Institutional Psychotherapy in November 1965. It was at the same time that he founded, along with other militants, the F.G.E.R.I. (Federation of Groups for Institutional Study & Research) and its review Recherche (Research), working on philosophy, mathematics, psychoanalysis, education, architecture, ethnology, etc. The F.G.E.R.I. came to represent aspects of the multiple political and cultural engagements of Guattari: the Group for Young Hispanics, the Franco-Chinese Friendships (in the times of the people's communes), the opposition activities with the wars in Algeria and Vietnam, the participation in the M.N.E.F., with the U.N.E.F., the policy of the offices of psychological academic aid (B.A.P.U.), the organisation of the University Working Groups (G.T.U.), but also the reorganizations of the training courses with the Centers of Training to the Methods of Education Activities (C.E.M.E.A.) for psychiatric male nurses, as well as the formation of Friendly Male Nurses (Amicales d'infirmiers) (in 1958), the studies on architecture and the projects of construction of a day hospital for "students and young workers".

In 1967, he appeared as one of the founders of OSARLA (Organization of solidarity and Aid to the Latin-American Revolution). In 1968, Guattari met Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Jean-Jacques Lebel, and Julian Beck. He was involved in the large-scale French protests of 1968, starting from the Movement of March 22. It was in the aftermath of 1968 that Guattari met Gilles Deleuze at the University of Vincennes and began to lay the ground-work for the soon to be infamous Anti-Oedipus (1972), which Michel Foucault described as "an introduction to the non-fascist life" in his preface to the book. In 1970, he created Center for the Study and Research of Institutional Formation), which developed the approach explored in the Recherches journal. In 1973, Guattari was tried and fined for committing an "outrage to public decency" for publishing an issue of Recherches on homosexuality.[4] In 1977, he created the CINEL for "new spaces of freedom" before joining in the 1980s the ecological movement with his "ecosophy".

1980s to 1990s

In his last book, Chaosmosis (1992), Guattari returned to the question of subjectivity: "How to produce it, collect it, enrich it, reinvent it permanently in order to make it compatible with mutant Universes of value?" This concern runs through all of his works, from Psychoanalysis and Transversality (a collection of articles from 1957 to 1972), through Years of Winter (1980–1986) and Schizoanalytic Cartographies (1989), to his collaboration with Deleuze, What is Philosophy? (1991). In Chaosmosis, Guattari proposes an analysis of subjectivity in terms of four functors: (1) material, energetic, and semiotic fluxes; (2) concrete and abstract machinic phyla; (3) virtual universes of value; and (4) finite existential territories.[5] This scheme attempts to grasp the heterogeneity of components involved in the production of subjectivity, as Guattari understands it, which include both signifying semiotic components as well as "a-signifying semiological dimensions" (which work "in parallel or independently of" any signifying function that they may have).[6]

On 29 August 1992, two weeks after an interview for Greek television, curated by Yiorgos Veltsos,[7] Guattari died in La Borde from a heart attack.[8][9] Some three years later, on 4 November 1995, his friend and research partner Gilles Deleuze, chronically suffering from respiratory ailments and incapable of simple tasks such as writing,[10] would commit suicide.[11]

In 1995, the posthumous release of Guattari's Chaosophy published essays and interviews concerning Guattari's work as director of the experimental La Borde clinic and his collaborations with Deleuze. The collection includes essays such as "Balance-Sheet Program for Desiring Machines," cosigned by Deleuze (with whom he coauthored Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus), and "Everybody Wants To Be a Fascist." It provides an introduction to Guattari's theories on "schizoanalysis", a process that develops Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis but which pursues a more experimental and collective approach towards analysis.

In 1996, another collection of Guattari's essays, lectures, and interviews, Soft Subversions, was published, which traces the development of his thought and activity throughout the 1980s ("the winter years"). His analyses of art, cinema, youth culture, economics, and power formations, develop concepts such as "micropolitics," "schizoanalysis," and "becoming-woman," which aim to liberate subjectivity and open up new horizons for political and creative resistance to the standardizing and homogenizing processes of global capitalism (which he calls "Integrated World Capitalism") in the "postmedia era." For example, he used the term "micropolitics" to delimit a certain level of observation of social practices (the unconscious economy, where there is a certain flexibility in the expression of desire and institution) and, practically, to define, in a segregated world, the field of intervention of "people who work to interest themselves in the discourse of the other."[12]


Works translated into English

  • Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (1984). Selected essays from Psychanalyse et transversalité (1972) and La révolution moléculaire (1977).
  • The Machinic Unconscious (1979)
  • Schizoanalytic Cartographies (1989).
  • The Three Ecologies (1989). Translated into English 2000.
  • Chaosmosis: an Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm (1992).
  • Psychoanalysis and Transversality (2015). Collected essays and interviews from 1955-1971.
  • Chaosophy (1995). Collected essays and interviews from 1972 - 1977.
  • Soft Subversions (1996). Collected essays and interviews from 1977 - 1985.
  • The Guattari Reader (1996). Collected essays and interviews.
  • The Anti-Oedipus Papers (2004). Collection of texts written between 1969 and 1972.
  • Lines of Flight (2015).
  • Machinic Eros: Writings on Japan (2015).

In collaboration with Gilles Deleuze:

  • Anti-Oedipus (1972).
  • Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature (1975).
  • A Thousand Plateaus (1980).
  • On the Line (1983). Contains translation of "Rhizome" (1976).
  • Nomadology: The War Machine. (1986). Translation of chapter 12 of A Thousand Plateaus.
  • What is Philosophy? (1991).
  • Capitalism: A Very Special Delirium (1995).

Other collaborations:

  • Communists Like Us (1985). With Antonio Negri. Republished under a different title as New Lines of Alliance, New Spaces of Liberty (2010)
  • Molecular Revolution in Brazil (1986). With Suely Rolnik.
  • The Party without Bosses (2003), by Gary Genosko. Features a 1982 conversation between Guattari and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former President of Brazil.

Untranslated works

Note: Many of the essays found in these works have been individually translated and can be found in the English collections.

  • La révolution moléculaire (1977, 1980). The 1980 version (éditions 10/18) contains substantially different essays from the 1977 version.
  • Les années d'hiver, 1980-1985 (1986).
  • Un Amour d'UIQ. Scénario pour un film qui manque, edited and with a visual essay by Graeme Thomson & Silvia Maglioni (Paris, Editions Amsterdam, 2012. The edition contains various screenplays and a selection of unpublished archives)

Other collaborations:

  • L’intervention institutionnelle (Paris: Petite Bibliothèque Payot, n. 382 - 1980). On institutional pedagogy. With Jacques Ardoino, G. Lapassade, Gerard Mendel, Rene Lourau.
  • Pratique de l'institutionnel et politique (1985). With Jean Oury and Francois Tosquelles.
  • Desiderio e rivoluzione. Intervista a cura di Paolo Bertetto (Milan: Squilibri, 1977). Conversation with Franco Berardi (Bifo) and Paolo Bertetto.

See also


  1. Simon Choat, Marx Through Post-Structuralism: Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Continuum, 2010, ch. 5.
  2. Guattari (1989, ix).
  3. Guattari (1989, x).
  4. Massumi, Brian (1993). A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-262-63143-1.
  5. Guattari (1992, 124).
  6. Guattari (1992, 4).
  7. "Entretien avec Félix Guattari à la télévision grecque" ("Felix Guattari interview on Greek television"), Revue Chimères, 4 February 2009 (in French)
  8. "Obituary: Felix Guattari" by James Kirkup, The Independent, 31 August 1992
  9. "Felix Guattari, a Psychoanalyst And Philospher, [sic] Is Dead at 62" by Alan Riding, The New York Times, 3 September 1992
  10. François Dosse, Deleuze and Guattari: Intersecting Lives, trans D. Glassman, CUP 2010
  11. "Obituary: Gilles Deleuze" by James Kirkup, The Independent, 8 November 1995
  12. Guattari, Félix; Rolnik, Suely (2007). Micropolitiques (in French). Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond. ISBN 9782846711586.


Primary sources

  • Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1972. Anti-Oedipus. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane. London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 1 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 2 vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of L'Anti-Oedipe. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. ISBN 0-8264-7695-3.
  • ---. 1975. Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Theory and History of Literature 30. Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 1986. Trans. of Kafka: pour une littérature mineure. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. ISBN 0-8166-1515-2.
  • ---. 1980. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 2 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 2 vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of Mille plateaux. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. ISBN 0-8264-7694-5.
  • ---. 1991. What Is Philosophy?. Trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson. London and New York: Verso, 1994. Trans. of Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. ISBN 0-86091-686-3.
  • Guattari, Félix. 1979. The Machinic Unconscious: essays in schizoanalysis. Trans. Taylor Adkins. Los Angeles, CA : Semiotext(e), 2011. Trans. of L'inconscient machinique: Essais de schizo-analyse. Paris: Recherches. ISBN 2-8622-201-08
  • ---. 1984. Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics. Trans. Rosemary Sheed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-055160-3.
  • ---. 1989a. Schizoanalytic Cartographies. Trans Andrew Goffey. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Trans. of Cartographies schizoanalytiques. Paris: Editions Galilée ISBN 978-2718603490.
  • ---. 1989b. The Three Ecologies. Trans. Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton. London and New York: Continuum, 2000. Trans. of Les trois écologies. Paris: Editions Galilée. ISBN 1-84706-305-5.
  • ---. 1992. Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm. Trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1995. Trans. of Chaosmose. Paris: Editions Galilee. ISBN 0-909952-25-6.
  • ---. 1995. Chaosophy (Texts and Interviews 1972 to 1977 ). Ed. Sylvère Lotringer. Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Ser. New York: Semiotext(e). ISBN 1-57027-019-8.
  • ---. 1996. Soft Subversions (Texts and Interviews 1977 to 1985). Ed. Sylvère Lotringer. Trans. David L. Sweet and Chet Wiener. Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Ser. New York: Semiotext(e). ISBN 1-57027-030-9.
  • ---. 1996. The Guattari Reader. Ed. Gary Genosko. Blackwell Readers ser. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19708-7.
  • ---. 2006. The Anti-Oedipus Papers. Ed. Stéphane Nadaud. Trans. Kélina Gotman. New York: Semiotext(e). ISBN 1-58435-031-8.

  • Guattari, Félix and Toni Negri. 1985. Communists Like Us: New Spaces of Liberty, New Lines of Alliance. Trans. Michael Ryan. Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Ser. New York: Semiotext(e), 1990. Trans. of Nouvelles espaces de liberte. Paris: Bedon. ISBN 0-936756-21-7.
  • Guattari, Félix, and Suely Rolnik. 1986. Molecular Revolution in Brazil. New York: Semiotext(e), 2008. Trans. of Micropolitica: Cartografias do Desejo. ISBN 1-58435-051-2.
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