n French Studies in Southern Africa - Une anthropologie de l'ultime consommateur Quelques réflexions sur le spinozisme du Marquis de Sade




The marquis de Sade was apparently an eminent reader of Spinoza's philosophy from which he deduced his anthropology of destruction justifying crime. For Spinoza nature as is indestructible and eternal while in its appearance as representing the result of a never changing process of modifications it is infinite. Therefore the idea of "nothingness" has to be considered as absurd. Sade's justification of crime and violence transforms the principle of "modification" into a principle of "destruction". Destruction is the first principle of his "ethics" because nature depends on men who follow their instincts to comply with this infinite process of changing in appearance. For this reason, Sade considers, contrarily to Spinoza's , that men should never limit their compulsions. The dominance of the others should be the exclusive aim of the superior human activity. According to Sade any civilisation based on sublimation is to be rejected. Moreover, the concept of civilisation is only admitted in the sense of a "machine" producing new and more sophisticated means of sadistic pleasure. In this "anthropology of consumers" human body and life as the ultimate products of consumption have to disappear when the "economy of pleasure" (that is an economy of consumption) is brought to its term; finally the "machines" or "factories" installed for this purpose by rich libertins in "utopian" places as monasteries and castles are annihilated - to be replaced by others. Thus the only progress admitted by Sade is the development of new possibilities for pleasure. In such never ending succession of cycles of domination and destruction, the eroticism is no longer sublimated and its rhetoric of seduction is replaced by the "mechanical" discourse of pornography using stereotypes.


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