A Buddhist Becoming
: On Deleuze and Nāgārjuna’s Middle Path to Living as Practice

  • Allen Chiu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


While both Deleuze and Nāgārjuna have been extensively studied in their own traditions, there has been no thoroughgoing attempt to study them in conjunction. This thesis puts Deleuze and Nāgārjuna into such a relation, by examining each of their philosophies, and then overlapping them and to see where the differences and similarities reveal themselves.

The introduction is focused on creating a methodology for the rest of the thesis. Chapter 1 focuses purely on Deleuze and is meant to provide a thematic interpretation of Deleuze for the comparison proper. As such, Chapter 1 examines Deleuze’s relationship with Spinoza and Nietzsche as well as using Plato as a way into each of those relationships. There is then an interlude that serves as a coda to the exegetical analysis on Deleuze as well as functioning as a transitional point to examine the context of religion and mythology when it comes to comparing Deleuze and Nāgārjuna. Chapter 2 focuses on providing a historical context for mythology’s importance to Buddhism and Nāgārjuna. This is necessary, I argue, because modern, western conceptions of Buddhism differ from the Buddhism that Nāgārjuna worked from and, significantly, they underestimate the role of mythology in the tradition. Chapter 3 is an exegetical examination of chapters from Nāgārjuna’s magnum opus, the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā to give the reader context for comparing Nāgārjuna in the subsequent chapter.

Chapter 4 focuses on comparing and establishing a closeness between Deleuze and Nāgārjuna by examination of their shared problems as well as similarities in their respective solutions. Having established closeness between the two, the position of this thesis is that this is strong enough to overcome any potential opposition between Deleuze and Nāgārjuna. Following from this the chapter argues that a potential way to read Deleuze to his practical conclusion can be found in Nāgārjuna’s Buddhism.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDominic Smith (Supervisor) & Tina Röck (Supervisor)


  • Deleuze
  • Nagarjuna
  • Metaphysics
  • Comparative Philosophy
  • Buddhism
  • Continental philosophy
  • Theology
  • Epistemology
  • French Philosophy
  • Indian Philosophy

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