From the Plague to the Garden: Ethics in Epicurus, Lucretius, and Deleuze

Deleuze once said that he sometimes fantasized about writing an article that would  “show that Lucretius’ book [V of De rerum natura] cannot end with the description of the plague, and that it is an invention, a falsification of the Christians who wanted to show that a magnificent thinker must end in terror and anguish.” This means that Deleuze thinks that Lucretius is not Spinozist enough. While Deleuze sees Spinoza’s “incredible Book V” of his Ethics as an extraordinary instance of thinking at infinite speeds that ends in the joyful affirmation of the world, De rerum natura strangely concludes a book of immanence and pleasure with a gruesome picture of death and destruction. In order to capture the ethical moment in the Deleuze-Lucretius encounter, this essay will fulfill Deleuze’s fantasy by constructing an alternative ending to Lucretius’s Book V, free of the possible Christian falsification, that will affirm the joy and immanence that course through the rest of the text.

A Research and Publication Project