The Libertine s Nature
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THE LIBERTINE'S NATURE is a book about the infamous Marquis de Sade. His works teem with uninhibited libertines who ruthlessly take advantage of others. The will to excess is also in evidence when the libertines raise the torch of philosophy as part of their debauchery. They talk a lot, but how do they think?This is a book about Sade's philosophical thoughts.In the context of the history of ideas, Sade is interpreted as a philosopher along the lines of other writers of the Enlightenment. His conception of nature claims special attention in this respect. His reflections concerning comparative anthropology and the aesthetics of the sublime are also emphasized and discussed in connection with Rousseau, Kant, and Nietszche, among others.In the perspective of what is termed Social Analytics and with Sade as the point of departure, elements of a theory of pleasure are constructed. With lust as the fundamental category the aim is to complete a revaluation of the priority traditionally given to 'the other' in moral philosophy. The goal is to formulate a different ethics beyond the opposition between desire and decency.



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Date de parution 01 juin 2006
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788771247350
Langue Danish

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Lars-Henrik Schmidt
The Libertine s Nature
Nothing common is foreign to me
THE LIBERTINE S NATURE is a book about the infamous Marquis de Sade .
His works teem with uninhibited libertines who ruthlessly take advantage of others. The will to excess is also in evidence when the libertines raise the torch of philosophy as part of their debauchery. They talk a lot, but how do they think? This is a book about Sade s philosophical thoughts. In the context of the history of ideas , Sade is interpreted as a philosopher along the lines of other writers of the Enlightenment. His conception of nature claims special attention in this respect. His reflections concerning comparative anthropology and the aesthetics of the sublime are also emphasized and discussed in connection with Rousseau, Kant, and Nietszche, among others.
In the perspective of what is termed Social Analytics and with Sade as the point of departure, elements of a theory of pleasure are constructed. With lust as the fundamental category the aim is to complete a revaluation of the priority traditionally given to the other in moral philosophy. The goal is to formulate a different ethics beyond the opposition between desire and decency. 1
Prelude: Sade and I
Sade Once Again
On the thirteenth of February 1777 the police showed up in the person of assistant commissioner Marais at the H tel de Danemark, rue Jacob in Paris. Referring to a royal lettre de cachet , the police arrested a young nobleman and led him to the Vincennes Fortress. The prisoner also had a death sentence hanging over his head. In 1772 a court of justice in Provence had found him guilty of poisoning and sodomy. Though the judgement was later reversed, the prison sentence was not revoked. He was released periodically but then reimprisoned for the libertine writings which were occasioned by the incarceration.
His imprisonment can be seen to mark the commencement of a new element in a body of work that among other things has enriched the world with one of the most remarkable Enlightenment texts by far. Symbolically opening the Terror of the revolutionary Jacobins, the dictatorship of freedom, Justine ou les malheurs de la vertu was published in 1791. The book turned out to be published under a pseudonym, and behind the author s pseudonym was hidden the above-mentioned nobleman: Donatien Alphonse Fran ois Marquis de Sade (1740-1814).
From the point of view of literary history this novel represents the genre transition from the philosophical fairy tale to the romantic novel. And in Sade s work it constitutes the center of rotation between Les Cent Vingt Journ es from 1785, a system of passions in novelistic drapery, and Juliette ou les prosperit s du vice from 1797, a novel with philosophical ambitions.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of this epoch-making effort, why not make a bow to Sade and show consideration for him; that is, refrain from turning him over. This time, however, not to the uniformed police but to the mundane literary knowledge police. Today Sade s concrete libertine behavior does not differentiate him much from many a school boy, but his libertine speculation and knowledge are still inadmissible . Today we lock Sade up inside literature - in the shape his thought had to take according to the circumstances. Sade s thinking is not present as anything other than epochal literature, as odd literature.
The magic of numbers falls completely within the spirit of Sade. It is noteworthy that he became obsessed with numbers and numerical constructions during the terms of imprisonment that form the sombre background of his work. However, the magic of numbers alone can never be sufficient grounds for giving attention to a body of work. His work deserves attention as a lesson, either because the grasp on it seems fatal or appears to be a tonic for the person who achieves his great health through the contact. For this reason Sade can function as an occasion .
Sade wants transgression; precisely this will to transgression makes him French philosophy s answer to Nietzsche. Sade has a tendency to transgress the social condition , for only by transgressing it does this condition become apparent. He does not consider himself reduced to Nietzsche s coping or tragic berwindung - and not at all to Heidegger s bypassing, verwindung , or reconsideration ( Besinnung ). Transgression is at the same time a more naive and a more radical version of the matter. Sade is and remains, even in the light of the current achievements within the genre, the ultimate challenge to the social condition.
At the same time, precisely because of his extreme naturalism, Sade is also the most discerning critic of Rousseau s nature romanticism that (in the shape of ecological awareness) has now become the predominant ideology towards the end of our century. Another boastful ideology that takes the shape of a new individualism and humanism - and the problems this form has with the social - also has much to learn from Sade s overt and problematic egoism: the Kantian idea that one cannot take advantage of others receives in Sade its qualified opponent.
In a world where torture and cruelty are witnessed every single day, it is worth listening to a clever man who knows something about the reality of evil. The root of all evil is hardly idleness but rather an unwilled limitation of sensuality - as, for example, in the imprisoned imagination: what we normally understand as evil is a passion to this anti-Christ.
Finally, it should be mentioned that promiscuity as a social convention is on its way to becoming a forbidden fruit in the new era of sober-mindedness , and thus there can be grounds for listening attentively to the way in which Sade problematicizes the prohibitions and in connection with this to his glorification of sensory intoxication.
The Thesis
If Sade is currently becoming visible on the horizon, it is because as the philosopher of extremes and revolutionary consequences, as the philosopher of excess , he constitutes the actual challenge and thus also the occasion for a post-revolutionary thinking that must tragically reconcile itself to the impossibility of complete otherness as well as to the certainty that nothing, or only Nothing , remains as it is.
It is my thesis that a current social-philosophical reflection on morality and ethics, up against the now predominant health morality and the ethics of sober-mindedness, can cast anchor by constructing the social in the modern world s most asocial thinker. Quite simply, the point is that apparently - even in Sade - limits appear as to how asocially one can behave. At the point where even Sade must give up we find the possibility of the social.
Thus, this book is not intended for readers who may wish to find an introduction to Sade s universe, although I hope it can function in this way as well. This presentation is on the contrary an interpretation, i.e., an interpretive construction that at the same time is a constructive interpretation , the project of which is to construct a theory by interpreting the teachings of Sade.
An interpretation wants something from Sade, wants to learn something from Sade, in contrast to a purely hermeneutic reading of Sade that in its devotion simply wants to understand him, but also in contrast to a deconstructive reading that though self-promoting wishes to present the play of the texts in a surprising manner and with surprising consequences. An interpretation in this sense is not a literary textual analysis that focuses on the narrative force. In an interpretation of Sade, the work is perceived as the text-body of which we will take advantage with a view to the text s desire.
That the reading allows itself to be thematicized as an erotic relationship is not a notion limited to the interpretive construction and constructive interpretation that I - as interpreter -assert here. All of the prominent reading strategies can be interpreted in the same perspective. The crucial point is that in our century the theory of knowledge, and with it epistemology, has been partly replaced by reading strategies, plus that in the history of exegesis the text is more or less unconsciously awarded feminine characteristics. In this way a reading can be compared to an appropriation of woman, of an externalized soul with which the reader wishes to be united. One does not seek the woman but what one seeks receives the name of woman. Such is the case with truth as well, which although lost is thought of as veiled.
In this connection, it is however crucial that one distinguishes between two different versions of the lost soul. In one version the passive interpreter believes that he can reappropriate the lost soul, which is thus considered only temporarily lost. In the other version the soul is definitively lost, and for that reason the reading is the interpreter s active appropriation and not a re-appropriation. In this way, a canny or careful reading strategy can be pointed out as heir to classical exegesis, as opposed to an uncanny reading that is prepared to be surprised.
The difference between the two strategies seems to demonstrate the opposition between a dialectical re-appropriation of what is temporarily lost and a tragic appropriation of what is definitively lost. Thus, between the dream of reconciling with and to what is lost on the one hand and reduction to reconciling to and not with what is lost on the other, an opposition is revived. This division forms a pattern where hermeneutic, deconstructive and pragmatic readings can be opposed to structuralistic, epistemological and interpretive readings.
Using the erotic grasp, one can say that the hermeneuticist acts like Casanova , who lets himself be seduced, is faithful to his women and takes good care of them; he must be put in contrast to the structuralist, who acts like Don Juan in that he loves the text in every text, just like Don Juan can love the woman in every woman. He can overcome every text because even this effort is the proof that what it is really about is a text-woman. Continuing the family resemblances, we could say that the deconstructivist acts like Kierkegaard s Johannes the Seducer , who gives the text-woman a reputation but is only faithful to himself and his composite idea of what a woman is taken from parts of women in whom he has found something interesting. As for the seducer, he must be put in contrast to the Therapist , who as the knight of the epistemological reading wants to rescue a hidden sub-text; the essential thing for him is to break free from the blurring obstacles. In this strategy, emancipation is the same as knowledge, and today this is still the purpose of reading. Finally, the pragmatic reader is represented by the Husband , the good reader, who learns to love the one he gets by using the material at hand and gathering a little here and a little there as is most befitting; but always with only one text-woman at a time. He may then finally be put in contrast to the interpretive reader that I defend here, namely, the Libertine , who initiates the text in order to continue the libertinage: the libertine production of meaning. What must be emphasized here is that the libertine wants something from his reading and it is in this that his family resemblance with the Therapist and Don Juan is to be found. It is true that he is hardly distinguishable from the Husband, who, however, is closely related to the Seducer and to Casanova, since he only wants the best for his relationship to the text. In contrast, the libertine interpreter wants to do something suspicious with the text, without wanting to rescue it like the Therapist or, like the dissatisfied Don Juan, wanting it to give in. He is scrupulously aware of his construction, and along with that the lost immediacy. And he should also be man enough to take advantage of the erotic strategies the situation offers even though he has his preferences. As the agent of his taste, an interpreter listens to his echo, i.e., to the opposition in the text; but he does not find himself. The reappropriative reading could, on the other hand, suitably be characterized as narcissistic.
Given that the situation is arranged in this way, which is to say that it is Sade to whom the reading should relate, the almost unavoidable question is whether Sade as Sade is done justice in an interpretive construction like this; the answer is given: Sade cannot be justified! But one can, for one s own sake, bypass his bibliography with respect and propriety all the same. The matter is rather one of coevalness , including a matter of the shape in which Sade can be made contemporaneous. By perceiving the texts as another s body, we keep company with the interpretive and analytical problem concerning the subject in Sade s text: the subject of the enunciation and the utterance. Quite simply, in the interpretive construction that I am proposing, these problems do not seem very interesting. Something is present in Sade s text. Whether this is a mask for Sade, whether the position is contradicted elsewhere, in other arrangements, etc. is irrelevant.
What this is about, then, is that in the redundancy of the Sadian libertine s statements, a style of thought can be constructed; that is, a philosophical position comparable to other positions. The question, then, of whether Marquis de Sade would admit to, accept, denounce or condemn this thinking that is called Sadian is not important, as I claim neither to explain nor to analyze Sade. I interpret Sade because with this interpretation I hope to make progress with the problem that he knows something about but that I have constructed. For an interpretation of this kind, Sade s choice of the novel as the typical mode of expression of his time is of less interest than the fact that he wrote the same novel over and over again, distancing and repeating: an interpretation wants to transform inadmissibility into untidiness , make room for it on today s horizon, so to speak.
The Way It Goes
With the interpretive construction and constructive interpretation proposed by this book I aim to do two things.
In part, using the perspective of the history of ideas , I will read Sade generally as a philosopher, comparing him with other writers from the Enlightenment and connecting his ideas to the great themes of the era, particularly his concept of nature, and specifically read him as one of the originators of an anthropological discourse and of the aesthetics of the sublime. In terms of the history of ideas, the most important interlocutors here will be Rousseau, Kant, and Nietzsche.
And, in part, using the perspective of Social Analytics and Sade as the occasion, I will attempt to construct a theory of pleasure with a view to undertaking a revaluation of the priority given to the other in traditional (and this of course more or less means Christian) moral philosophy. Hereby I hope to be able to bring about a displacement (from suffering to pleasure, from regard to respect, and so on) that can prepare for a different ethics.
So as to realize this project, my presentation falls into three sections. The first part is an attempt to present and locate Sade s complex of problems through his aesthetics and his philosophy of nature, and its objective is to demonstrate that it is worth listening to Sade. The second part is a presentation and transgression of Sade s lesson in pleasure, in which it will be demonstrated that on Sadian premises one can take a entirely non-Sadian route. In light of this, the third part tries out Sade s will to transgress the prohibitions of nature and humanity, and it seeks to demonstrate his limitation.
Hence: the first part concerns a displacement from nature to physiology or sensuality ; the second part is about a displacement in pleasure from the other s pain to one s own craving , and finally the third part is about a displacement from prohibition to abstention .
In short, the thesis is that it is not possible for Sade to transgress the social, but that precisely in his failure lies the condition for the possibility of letting an ethics cast anchor in the maelstrom. Sade s will to transgression unwittingly happens to indicate a point for the social. In reality, his misfortune indicates what I shall call our dis-fortune . Using the history of ideas as an interpretive construction and a constructive interpretation, it is then my aim to render plausible the thesis of this book, which experiments with overcoming Sade s complex of problems through a presentation of and reconciliation to Sade s limitation - a limitation that consists of nothing less than the social self.
Le Philosophe
Sade considered himself a philosophe ; in his era this meant very precisely a critical use of reason against the existing institutions, first of all the church, which was equated with disgracefulness. The critical practice turned toward the two bodies functioning up to that point as obstacles to the progress of philosophy, namely, authority and the systematic soul. In clerical reasoning it was an inner relation that prevented a localization of truth; that is to say, pride: in humble practice, pride could bring about a downward climb in the search for truth, which is why the problem could be helped through a self-practice. The enemy for the Enlightenment critic is externalized and the criticism of reason coincides with an emancipation. As a philosopher, Sade is also an emancipation theorist; however, he does not only want to deliver himself from the other, he also wants to take advantage of the other.
He is a libertine . We are going to take an interest in his nature rather than the conceptual history of the libertine.
It is therefore as a philosopher that he will be taken seriously, or more precisely, as a thinker: one can learn something by having to overcome Sade. All other things being equal, the will to order expressed in the attempt at overcoming involves a sacrifice, involves a civilizing of Sade s unruliness. Tidying Sade up to a certain extent seems to me inevitable, for what is terrible in Sade can hardly be expressed . Sade is not tidy: his world of thought is dreadful. Sade is not immoral like Nietzsche but unmoral or amoral, as his point is that the will to the good involves evil .
Sade presents the hardships of virtue, its unhappiness, symbolized by the fair Justine, and he presents the prosperity of vice, symbolized by the dark Juliette. As sisters they belong to the same family, but a broken family. Why use Sade as a prism to call the social into question and to ask whether a different ethics is possible? Because he can give rise to a calling into question of the precedence of virtue in ethical thought. Precisely because on the whole he is the complaint against thinking in grooves about ethics; because he calls the precedence of the other into question rather than simply questioning the arguments for this precedence. The social and ethics are therefore what is at issue - and not taken for granted. To Sade the social is not a matter of course such as it has become for many good reasons in the twentieth century at a time when metaphysics has become a social metaphysics; but when it has also become matter-of-course, all too matter-of-course, and as such almost un-thinkable. As we shall see, tradition believes that it can provide the answer even though it merely is the answer. Association with Sade recalls the question mark that should not be denied or suppressed but that as a consequence of active forgetting can simply be withdrawn.
First Fiddle
What is going to concern us is, in short, the social : how we relate to relations, including ethics, which in our culture is about what one can do out of regard for and with regard to the other. Ethics is no longer about the good life, as the case was in Greek ethics. Nowadays this is translated into quality time, into the problem of taking one s time. Nevertheless, the question is whether or not in reality the social matter of course is due to the fact that regarding the other has become all too much a matter of course. The question is actually whether there is in this underlying humanism , which along with Christianity and the Enlightenment project form our grand traditions, an unnecessary hostility towards life ; that is, whether awarding the other absolute - and thereby in-dependent - value is not properly speaking a form of passive nihilism to borrow one of Nietzsche s expressions.
The three grand Western traditions all have to do with the Other. As a form of culture, Christianity is first of all a vertical commitment to Jesus as the son of man, as the generalized other, as the neighbor ; humanism is, on the other hand, a horizontal commitment to the concrete other in the shape of fellow man . The Enlightenment project is a commitment to the abstract other and thereby the other as or in oneself as well: that is to say, humaneness and humanity . From relating to the other mediated through the Lord we now relate to l homme en g n ral (Rousseau) or Menschheit (Kant).
Perhaps the time has come to reevaluate the priority that is given to the other, i.e., to conceive the involvement of the other differently. It is among other things this supposition that has resulted in a series of speculations that I refer to as Social Analytics . The aim is to venture a displacement whereby one neither approves of nor reconciles oneself with the Christian tradition but nor does one hysterically combat it. It must be a question of reconciling oneself to this tradition as our culture s basic form of problematization without gleefully giving oneself up to it.
This displacement entails the construction of a problematic in which the other does not play first fiddle , without the consequence being hedonism in the classical sense or liberalism in the modern sense. It will move from one set of categories to another: from pain to pleasure, from regard to respect, from forbidden fruits and commands to offers and abstention, and so forth. The shift in perspective caused by this displacement is in this way a shift in problematic as well, and should the displacement happen to succeed it could lead to the accomplishment of a Copernican revolution in moral philosophy, for at this point desire and morality would no longer pose a problem for each other.
That moral philosophy always lets the other play first fiddle can be illustrated with reference to the modern versions of moral law . As in so many other cases, it is Rousseau who epitomizes regard for the other. In La Nouvelle Helo se Rousseau-Wolmar says that there is only one moral commandment ( pr cepte ) that can replace all of the others: Do nothing, say nothing that you do not wish everyone to see or hear. In Rousseau we find a brilliant and radical thesis on a presence/absence equivalence: on the generalized other s presence insofar as this entity is concretely absent and on its absence in case it is concretely present. The ideal for this neutralization between absence and presence in an absolute being there is borrowed from a certain Roman who wished his house to be constructed in a way that allowed one to see everything that happened inside it. One is in a condition of being seen by a third party. In Rousseau, relations and relations to oneself are always mediated through the other (which is thus really in the nature of a third party ). It is immediacy lost or lost self-presence. It is the generalized other, the third party s being there that decides the moral worth.
It is the same idea that makes Rousseau describe the individuality of modern existence as the mundane attitude of seeing oneself through the others eyes . One s relation to oneself is always mediated through the relation to the generalized other. In Rousseau what we have is a thoroughly worldly notion of transparency; but this moral claim to public transparency is linked to Christianity in Kant, who often systematizes Rousseau, and not always for the best.
In Kant, Rousseau s idea is translated into a categorical imperative that says: Act in such a way that the maxim for your action can be made into universal law. By virtue of the Enlightenment notion of humaneness and human value, this imperative turns into the notion that one should always treat the humanity in oneself and in the other, and never just as a means but also as an aim. Thus not, and that will be crucial in our discussion, as a pure object .
This is about versions of the golden rule : do unto others or do not unto others as you would have others do or not do unto yourself. We find an example of the two variations of the golden rule in Jesus and Confucius. What is important is that the relation to oneself is mediated through the relation to the other. Does this mean that the other is always going to play first fiddle?
In Sade s texts we find a practical answer to a question he hardly would have considered posing. To our question of playing the lead we find a practical answer: no, replies Sade, the other is not going to play first fiddle. Take your pleasure at the expense of anybody, commands the libertine s nature. Of course one cannot do that, replies every decent person. But let us look into this matter further.
In all decency, it is possible if at the same time it is possible to replace the Christian problematic, the other s pain, with personal pleasure.
Thus, what is at issue is not the greatest possible happiness for as many as possible, as is preached by utilitarianism and consequentialist moral theories and often emphasized as a unconventional supplement to the golden rule and deontological moral theories. Here the problem is the notion of happiness; for happiness in Sade s universe is egotistical : it belongs to the individual and cannot be discussed detached from pleasure and sexual satisfaction. It is this focal point that makes Sade interesting - and untried, so far as I can see. Sade s problem is, however, (let me already at this point suggest my dissociation from him) that he cannot see the difference between egoism and self-consideration; this is because he completely skips Rousseau, which he should not have done. But his provocative excess is the condition for the appearance of a new problematic: a break with the other s dominance, a break with the notion that the relation to oneself is mediated through the other, but at the same time a new problematic that is not an exclusion of the other. The question is whether an alternative to mediation can be found.
Sade can be used to call mediation into question but not to illustrate a different involvement of the other.
The way in which I will consider the involvement of the other as different from being a mediator is as constituting a third position. One does not relate to oneself mediated through the other, but one also relates to how the third party relates to oneself as an-other. In this situation we find a reserve that is not mediation. It is in this decency, in the experience of belonging to the difference from and distance to the other that we find the play of ethics.
It is in and of itself simple to account for how the ethical problem has been tackled in the history of theory. In compliance with my project, I permit myself to unify the problem in four stages , i.e., in an order that does not present a necessary process of development and that does not imply a phasing out of the individual stages, though their dominance shifts from being epochal to being merely local. The first solution to the problem is the Aristotelian ethics of virtue , which is oriented around physis or nature: in Aristotle, virtuousness and the acting out of a specific nature are one and the same, and, when all is said and done, a natural predisposition cannot be changed. Changes can, however, be made when we reach the second phase; that is, Kantian moral duty : here morality consists in cultivating one s nature, in working on developing a specific nature or in working against simple nature. Duty is work and work ennobles and thus morals are a profound matter. In the contemporaneous third phase the inner relation is then directed outwards toward the other in the radical morality of emancipation , wherein morality consists in liberating oneself from oppressive yokes and setting real nature free. Finally, the solution in our current epoch is an ethics of limitation , wherein what is considered ethical is being able to contain one s emissions: a new stinginess and sober-mindedness that must limit any excess. In the light of this new division, the traditional division into moral duty and utilitarian/ consequentialist ethics - or for that matter the modernization of this division as ethics of responsibility and character ethics - seems less interesting.
The interplay between the four phases is characteristic of the new departure in metaphysics taking place in the modern world, namely, its transformation from an ontological through an epistemological to a social metaphysics. That it revolves around modern forms of problematizing behavior in relation to the other, out of regard for and with regard to the other, beyond Christianity and the Church really just means that it basically occurs in a secularized form. The new departure comes with the modern world in the second half of the eighteenth century, more precisely around the year 1793. At this point we find simultaneous formulations of an economic liberalism (Smith), a practical utilitarianism (Bentham), a rights-oriented politics of virtue (Robespierre), a justice-oriented political anarchism (Godwin), a secularized morality of duty (Kant), a practical cynicism of every day life or lesson in social wisdom (von Knigge), and then Sade s libertinism.
In this new breakthrough we find the phases reflected and articulated in very different ways. The keynote is hardly to be mistaken today: we are living in an epoch of moralized limitations; that is, of self-limitation , and at the heart of the matter there seem to be only two ways of arguing for the idea that the demand for self-limitation is imperative . The grounds for moral behavior are given with reference to 1) Law and 2) Nature respectively. That the Law is natural coincides the idea of natural law, and that nature in the course of time provides law is the pedagogical conception; but neither form of articulation changes the factors, nor do they change the fact that in the end an imperative source of authority must be found.
By referring to the law as the source of authority, the limitation is seen as imposed from outside, and so imposed through a prohibition . By referring instead to nature as the obvious final source of authority, the demand is seen as provided from within, and thus provided in the shape of a command . As the philosopher of excess, Sade is the provocation against limitations, but in the name of emancipation, as he follows the command of nature. Meanwhile, his intention is to show that this command has no normative dimensions. Hence, Sade s paradox is implicitly that a normative foundation can only be found in nature - but cannot be found in nature. His relevant counterpart is actually Kierkegaard, who, on the contrary, claims that a normative foundation can only be found in the law, but cannot be found there.
Grasping the imperative source of authority is the same as grasping how the social is possible, i.e., how the social coheres. Again, we find two grand - and concurrent because by definition unable to counteract each other - traditions that join law and nature as sources of authority. These traditions differ in their descriptions of humans as needful beings and desiring beings respectively. In both of them, however, describing the origin of the social is the same as deciding its foundational essence.
If one s point of departure is the notion that humans are needful beings, then as a result the starting point is that humans, being equipped with a varying number of needs, are thrown upon each other out of necessity so as to be able to satisfy their needs. Being thrown upon one another out of necessity constitutes the system of needs which is organized around a system of exchange with the marketplace as its source of authority. If, on the other hand, one considers humans to be desiring beings, then their objective is the fulfilment of wishes and with this happiness. In this situation, the other is desirable, but not necessary in the same way as for the needful being. The exchange is a concrete trade in the wish for reciprocity. System and sympathy are the social-philosophical configurations for the law and nature respectively, for the ideas are conceptualized either by the condition of being thrown upon the other or by the will to reciprocity.
Let us elucidate the matter further. Bartering can serve as a metaphor for a system of need: it is based on the idea that we have something to exchange with one another or rather that we have something the others want, otherwise we would not, of course, be of interest to them. The baker wants the shoemaker to need bread, otherwise he cannot get his shoes fixed. More precisely, this means that we want not what the other has positively, but rather what the other needs negatively, what the other lacks. We actually do not need the other s positivity but his negativity, his lack , i.e., he must lack what we can offer, for otherwise there would not be any motive for the exchange: it appears that I need the other s need and in reality I need the other s lack. Of course this is also true for myself: I lack the other s lack. I scratch your back, you scratch a third person, and he scratches me. Together we form a scratching system. In this way the system of need is the foundation for economical discourse, and it is analyzed in this way by Rousseau and later played out in Hegel and Marx.
With respect to a system of desire, in the reciprocity or non-reciprocity of desire - which amount to the same thing - my desire is the other s desire, or one desires oneself as another. I then desire the other s desire for me. Here the exchange is concrete, and it is no good if the game does not work out. It is no good if Peter desires Mary, who desires John, who desires Anne, who desires Peter. Each one demands his or her satisfaction, and will lie their way to it. Desire is thus concrete in its wish for, indeed demand for reciprocity: I scratch your back, you scratch mine; you scratch my back because I scratch yours; I scratch yours because you scratch mine. Psychoanalysis is a theory of this problem of desire wherein one desires what is not; what one does not have oneself but believes the other has. What is crucial is the demand for reciprocity, but not of course the redeemability of the demand. The point is that one is ready to postpone or defer the realization - indefinitely, so to speak - to replace the reality with a principle of reality, to modify one s wishes so they can come true.
In Rousseau there are two elegant metaphors for precisely this irreducible division into need and desire. Towards the North, claimed Rousseau, society came into being around the bonfire. Humans needed each other and the first words were simply aidez-moi ; whereas society towards the South came into being around the well, where they wanted to maximize their happiness together with the other, which is why the first words were not aidez-moi but aimez-moi . It is then a question of a shift in accentuation that constitutes the double origin of sociality. Rousseau spoke of a double origin because both forms exist simultaneously and in a sense depend on each other.
Rousseau considered that a mythical explanation of the double relationship was called for, and the explanation was precisely a myth of origins. However, with the tragic philosophy of Social Analytics, we think beyond the theme of origins as understood as that which decides being. Here we are beyond being. What we want to do now is grasp the double relationship in the forms of articulation of a third thing that, however, is not in-dependent . It is Sade who puts us on the track of this third source of authority, one that for him has reality but that in the light of Social Analytics is first realized when suspended.
Sade s Craving
It is the actual articulatory relationship we call craving. It is craving that is articulated as need or desire but which is not need or desire. The thesis is, then, that we can use Sade in a speculative attempt to develop a third track. Sade himself thinks in terms of the opposition between need and desire, but his praxis, both the libertine and the literary, cannot actually be contained in this problematic. Consequently, Sade is worth a closer look.
With Sade as a fellow player a problematic can be constructed that neither subscribes to the constellation need-necessity-satisfaction-system-market nor to the constellation desire-happiness-fulfilment-reciprocity-exchange, but rather to the following constellation: craving-pleasure-acting out-commoneness-taking .
The acting out of craving is experienced as pleasure. The source of pleasure belongs to the individual in his one-sidedness, where pleasure is taken at the expense of the other. The crux of the matter is to understand the implications of pleasure occurring at the expense of the other, who himself takes pleasure at a third person s expense, who himself takes pleasure at a fourth person s expense, and so on, but without the relations forming a synthesis, without them forming a system.
In Sade what this means is clear, but the issue that interests us is whether or not a contra-intentional possibility can be traced precisely in the will to reduce the other to an object of pleasure, also in Sade. Sade wants to but cannot (precisely because he wants to) accomplish his reduction .
Introducing the third constellation means then that a counterpart to prohibition and command must be introduced as well. This counterpart can be found in the offer , in the invitation to share commonness (which alludes to something more than communality and less than universality). When one shares commonness with someone, one abstains from turning this person into a pure object. One behaves with reserve because one does not long for the other, but one misses something else: the relation to the other, which means that one belongs to the difference to the other, and this is why one is a-miss. In the annihilation of the other, this difference, this missing, this reserve is lost, as the relation is broken off when the other exists in his or her self-dependence or self-sufficiency or even as nothing - it amounts to the same thing, since the other s substantiation is the annihilation of reserve.
One cannot just take pleasure in the other; one must also take pleasure in the other s pleasure. The other s relation to himself, which involves me and my relation to myself, which involves
Perhaps it is precisely because there are ways in which we cannot take pleasure in the other that we also take pleasure in the other s pleasure: to make the other into a substitute is thus a social technique. To take pleasure in the other means that the other does not back out, in one way or another. This involves a diagnosis of craving (or a diagnosis of protest).
Abstention is then a necessity in but not a precondition for the social: it has a genesis but no origin; it is not caused or motivated but it derives from being a-miss. Its substitutional ground is the missing we cannot separate from life itself, from the inevitability of missing. Abstention is the superhistorical precondition for the social, for what I also call socius . In Social Analytics, socius is thus the name for the conjunction between conflictual commonness and common conflictuality , for the social coincidence.
Please, Please Me
The point should be (and may be expressed with a precise ambiguity) that one s pleasure is the other s pleasure : one takes pleasure in the other, and one takes pleasure in the other s pleasure. With this a radical shift occurs, however, from the other to one-self (oneness), for the point of sensuality is that there can very well be coevalness in pleasure , which is something other than reciprocity and system, that is to say, commonness in craving: the unarticulated disagreement, or rather socius, unexperienced incompatibility. Thus it must be craving that creates the possibility for love, not the reverse. In other words, I wish to accomplish a revaluation .
Maybe this coevalness in pleasure, this complaisance, ought to be called sympathy in the same sense as compassion, but the situation today is that moral philosophy has monopolized the use of sympathy as a counterpart to antipathy and to egoism; it is hardly possible to extract a new meaning from this category: the concurrent feeling of sympathy is a form of reciprocity, but that is not the case with the being-in-tune of coevalness. One can empathize with the other, but one cannot feel the other s feeling. Helvetius knew this, and Wittgenstein repeated it in his own fashion later. We are now left with another phenomenon: the possibility for resonance , which we will name common pleasure or simultaneous pleasure (with all the simul associations); just like when an offer of meaning is repeated.
This is different from empathy since one also relates to the other s relations, in that there is no common denominator, no joint object. Commonely one takes pleasure in loneliness and lonelily one takes pleasure in commoneness . Only he who is not alone can be lonely, so what counts here is being one among people. The loneliness of pleasure is not sad or lamentable but tragic, for it is in the midst of attempting to become one flesh that the radical difference makes itself felt. With those to whom one is attached one must refrain from becoming one flesh. One experiences here the situation of belonging to the difference from the other, and as a form of consumption pleasure is a confirmation of individuality in the middle of an attempt at transgressing individuality. The importance of the sense of imagination for pleasure is an indication of the condition of radically lonely comm one ness, which is not to be mistaken.
The issue that is going to be of interest to us is, then, how one abstains from taking pleasure in the other and instead takes pleasure in the other s pleasure, that is, instead of taking pleasure in the other. How does attachment imply abstention? This is what we are going to examine by seeing how a boundary is marked out with respect to taking pleasure in the other. And at this point two possible reasons can be given: either one is not capable of it, in which case abstention is a Nietzschean respect, or else one abstains from taking pleasure in the other with a view to one s own pleasure. If the other is dead he cannot act as a substitute for one s pleasure. This is among the theses that we are going to examine in what follows. There are ways in which one must abstain from taking pleasure in the other.
The fact is that inasmuch as the social must take place, one must abstain from the phenomenon we are going to analyze under the appellation cannibalism. A boundary is drawn with respect to how one can take pleasure in the other. Social anthropophagy is, as I am going to attempt to demonstrate, excluded, impossible in the social, for transgression is the same as terminating socius. It is therefore neither a command nor a prohibition but the offer of commonness that is crucial for the occurrence of the social.
It is this frontier outpost that we are now going to seek out in Sade s libertine nature, in the actual will to excess .
Part I: And Taste Was His Fate
Chapter 1: Natural Excess
In the field of the history of ideas there are certain authors (Rousseau, Kant, Nietzsche, etc.) whose work is taken for granted and considered to be self-evident objects of study by intellectual historians. This is not the case with Sade. He is the genitor of a body of work that is not taken for granted. Not because his name is unknown, on the contrary, it is all too well-known. Sade is actually notorious, and for good reasons.
Everyone has heard of the lewdness of his writings, but it is seldom that his thinking is taken seriously. Yet, compared to his thinking, his passion practice, and thus his literary practice, is almost popular. And when the thinking is brought to light it is either to recreate it in a new form merely reminiscent of Sade or else, and this is often the case, it is to borrow a bit of the lewd energy with which the shocking material almost automatically provides the reading, and by means of which the commentaries, protected by more or less scholarly allusions, enjoy their own provocation of the average public s narrow-mindedness. If a new philosophy of transgression (cf. Georges Bataille) is not created, this provocation is often the sole remnant of Sade s philosophy of transgression: commentators cautiously hint that they are indeed at odds with the world and have interesting interests. Of course, many exceptions to this rule are to be found, and as an example Theodor Adorno s reading of Sade ought to be mentioned.
My attempt to take Sade s thinking seriously in what follows is neither due to elective philosophical affinity nor to lewd interests. Sade is hardly the great thinker in the manner of romantic Rousseau, who can be seen as his most important fencing partner, nor in the manner of categorical Kant, his contemporary counterpart. But he is, as mentioned above, a philosophe : he carries the torch of philosophy against untimely education and ordinary prejudices, insisting that a new age that does not eliminate the sources of the former age will be obsolete before it is born. This is why Sade is above all radical in the sense that he is consistent . He conceives of his entire effort to be that of a philosopher: the light of philosophy must be lit so as to do away with the many prejudices. His project has to be characterized as an excess in the hunt for prejudices: contrary to his colleagues idealization of a certain moderation, he does not stop before it gets dangerous, for he fully accepts the consequences of the light of philosophy, capable of illuminating all the work of man as forms of prejudice. In this we do not find the self-reflection of reason but, on the contrary, we find stimulation : he seeks in vain the limit where it is said to be reasonable for reason to stop being reasonable. The limit to stimulation is merely the crisis and natural exhaustion. In Sade, judgement is thus absent, which again is consistent with respect to the war he wages against the social element and his demonstration that an authoritative settlement is always to be found in potency, in the broadest sense of the word. Through his consistency a number of the most important themes in French Enlightenment philosophy are magnified and rendered visible, and for this reason his monstrous text-body is worth reading. In the perspectives of the history of ideas and Social Analytics, we are going to inquire into the excessive consistency with which he problematisizes the apparent virtues - and the values of Christian culture on the whole. They should not be taken for granted and they are not self-evident, demonstrates libertinism.
Philosophically speaking, what is interesting about

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