The present new wave of Sadean studies, both in French and in English, may account for this belated, and excellent, translation of Klossowski’s. Sade My. Sade My Neighbor (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) [ Pierre Klossowski, Alphonso Lingis] on *FREE* shipping on. This piece was a response to Brent Adkins’ paper “Foucault and Klossowski: On the Limits of Sade,” and was presented at the meetings of the Society for.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. On the Limits of Sade. The first level, most obviously, is the retrieval of the work of the Marquis de Sade—an extraordinarily famous name but also an extraordinarily under-read and perhaps under-rated thinker. It is much rarer that one attempts to read Sade, not simply as a swde of sex and criminality, but also as a political thinker, which he most assuredly was, and which is the way he is often read in French interpretations.

The nature of this trajectory is a complex one, but Adkins nicely focuses our attention on one aspect klossowksi this trajectory that came to be central for Foucault: I would simply like to do two things very quickly in my response: In a social contract theory like Hobbes, the establishment of society out of the state of nature is premised on a sacrifice of my own power and sovereignty to the State and its laws.

But it was precisely this exchange that Sade found unacceptable, for two reasons. The first is easy to comprehend: But second, and more importantly, the sacrifice of my power to the sovereignty of the State and the law is unacceptable because it is the law itself that enables the tyrant to exist, the law is the very condition of tyranny. In an argument against Hobbes, Sade writes: But if Sade sets himself against the law, and the tyranny that the law makes possible, does that mean he simply returns to the anarchic state of nature?

On the one hand, yes, Sade prefers anarchy to laws.

Thus, in scene after scene, the libertine annihilates other people, annihilates humanity, and annihilates God—all in the name of this absolute sovereignty.

If I am undertaking these monstrous crimes in the name of my sovereignty, and my natural desires, then crime as such becomes impossible. It is impossible to transgress the laws of nature.

Pierre Klossowski – Wikipedia

Hence the disappointment of the sadistic here: His power of negation may be all pervasive, exercised on everything around him, but the process of death and destruction that it represents is only a partial process, and moreover a natural process. Hence the final move of Sade, hinted at by Adkins, though not spelled out in detail. Klsosowski only must God and humanity be klossowwki and destroyed, but nature itself must be annihilated.


As Deleuze puts it: The idea of that asde is not, the idea of the No or of negation which is not given and cannot be given in experience must necessarily be the object of a demonstration in the sense that a mathematical truth holds good even when we are asleep and even if it does not exist in nature.

Hence the rage and klpssowski of the sadistic hero when he realizes how paltry his own crimes are in relation to the idea [of Pure Evil or Pure Negation] which he can only reach through the omnipotence of reasoning. In practice, the libertine is confined to illustrating his total demonstration of the Pure Idea of Absolute Negation or Evil through partial inductive processes borrowed from secondary nature.

But his violence cannot be undertaken under the sway of inspiration or impulse, nor can it be governed by the pleasures it affords, since such pleasures would still bind the libertine to secondary nature. Rather, his violence must be exercised in cold blood, and condensed by this coldness, the coldness of a demonstrative reason. Thus, absolutely sovereignty appears in Sade as an original or primary nature that cannot be given in experience, but is necessarily the object of an Idea, an idea of pure negation or pure evil, which is a delusion, perhaps, but a delusion of reason itself.

It is in this sense that Sade can be seen klkssowski a purely rationalist thinker.

It is true that the apathy of the sadist can produce intense pleasure, but it is klossowsji the pleasure of an ego exerting its power and sovereignty in klsosowski nature, but rather the pleasure of an absolutely negating primary nature exerting its power within the ego and outside the ego, and which ultimately negates the ego itself.

The sadistic ego sets himself the task of thinking out the Idea of Pure Negation in a demonstrative form, but is only able to achieve this through by multiplying and repeating the activities of destruction and annihilation in secondary nature.

In a sense, one might even say that Sade was a Derridean avant la lettre, since the condition of possibility of the Klosslwski of Pure Negation is its very impossibility. Now it seems to me that Adkins has two approaches to this question in his paper, the second of which is, in my opinion, more successful—and more interesting—than the first.

The first citation occurs in Madness and Civilizationwhere Foucault recapitulates the broad outlines of the reading I have just given. But as Adkins points out, Foucault very quickly abandoned klossoeski notion sadr a raw and savage experience kloseowski experience of madness that would lie at the limit of discourse. By the time Foucault writes The Order of Thingsfive years later, he has changed his position entirely and brought Sade fully into the domain of discourse.


Finally, when we get to the History of Sexuality, Vol. Moreover, it is only in the early Madness and Civilization that Foucault makes use of Sade in working through his anti-Hegelian polemics, but as Adkins notes, he quickly drops his use of Sade in this context. The anti-Hegelian polemics continue, but never again, to sadee knowledge, in relation to Sade.

In any case, I confess that I found this last part of the paper one of the most suggestive, rich, and intriguing portions of the paper.

And in fact it sparked in me a final reflection. Deleuze suggests an answer to this question when he distinguishes, within the domain of the impulses, between the destructive instincts and what Freud called the Death Instinct.

Pierre Klossowski

The destructive instincts are actually given in the unconscious, but always in combination with the life instincts, so that destruction, and the negative at work in destruction, always manifests itself as the other face of construction and unification as governed by the pleasure principle.

When we speak of the Death Instinct, by contrast, we are referring to Thanatos, the absolute negation, which can never be given in psychic life, even in the unconscious —it is, as Freud put it in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, essentially silent. In Sadean dade, the Death Instinct would be the domain of primary nature, the pure Thought of a fearful nature, the Pure Idea of a demonstrative reason, within which the ego is beaten and expelled.

And indeed, this is how Sade ultimately defines the Pure Evil of primary nature, which is beyond all constituted order and is made up of raging and lacerating molecules that bring disorder and anarchy. And would this perhaps not be the ultimate lesson of Sade: Remember me on this computer.

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