May 1, 1960

There is in Rousseau a notion of perfectibility: the state of nature must be understood as a genetic element, heavy with potential, with virtualities. This genetic line is altered by the genesis of vice. Is this accidental or necessary?

Seminar Introduction

Deleuze taught philosophy at the Lycée Orleans from 1953-1955 and at the Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris from 1955-1957. He then became an assistant professor at the Sorbonne, where he taught from 1957-1960, replacing Jean Hyppolite, who had been appointed to a position at the École normale supérieure on rue d’Ulm.

At the Sorbonne, Deleuze taught a course on Wednesdays in Cavailles Hall from 2:00-3:00pm. In his 1957-1958 course, he lectured on Jean Wahl’s concepts of diversity, pluralism, the irreducibility of the many, and a philosophy of the “and.” In his 1959-1960 course, Deleuze focused on Rousseau and chapter three of Bergson’s Creative Evolution. It is these latter two courses from 1959-1960 that are available here.

The manuscripts of these courses have been preserved in the archives of the École normale supérieure at Fontenay Saint-Cloud in the ENS-LSH library in Lyon. The archive contains manuscripts of Deleuze’s lectures on Bergson (19 pp.), Rousseau (27 pp.), Kant (24 pp.), and Hume (38 pp.).

English Translation


Deleuze was an assistant professor at the Sorbonne from 1957-1960, where he taught a course on Rousseau during the 1959-1960 school year.

The twenty-seven page manuscript of the course is preserved in the archives of the École normale supérieure Fontenay Saint-Cloud in the ENS-LSH library in Lyon. We would like to thank Timothy S. Murphy for making a copy of the manuscript available.

Maurice Quentin de La Tour Portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1753, pastel on paper Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


An English translation of Deleuze’s course on Rousseau by Arjen Kleinherenbrink, entitled “A Politics of Things,” is available on-line here.

French Transcript



The French transcription of Deleuze’s course on Rousseau is available in pdf format by clicking on the “Lecture in French” button above.

The original manuscript of the course is held in the library of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de St.-Cloud, Serie C1, No. 12167



For archival purposes, this and the following session were added to the site in February and March 2020, and the Seminar was developed in September 2020.