Okay, I’m listening

my own motives for taking on the task of shedding light on Lacan’s ‘darkest’ moment

Many say that “Kant with Sade” is one of the most difficult texts he ever wrote. Just on the surface I’m perplexed how those two thinkers could go together.

For starters, both believed in an unconventional morality.

Okay, I see where this is going

Lacan himself pointed to the ‘grain of salt’ with which Kant’s moral law could be spiced up

In some cases you can will Sadism on all of humanity. Also, being a “weirdo” (if you want to call it that) is something that could be universalized.

If you’re new to Kant, the cliche “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a simplistic but accurate crystallization of his moral law.

where two of a kind meet and perform rituals of which both understand the significance. In these cases, violence is a form of play.

To be a good Kantian to a masochist is to be sadistic with them.

Lacan sees Sade’s libertine novels as an extension of Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. At first glance you’d think Kant’s logic would rule out violence altogether.

Take another example

The Other proclaims to have the ‘right to enjoy’, whereas I am no more than the body who is about to be enjoyed ‘without any limit’ by this Other.

You want them to enjoy you without any limit also, i.e. even if you don’t really like it.

They’re right that this text is not easy to understand.

[Sade] spoke in the name of human Nature, which (unlike Rousseau) he defined as brutal, selfish, cruel and merciless

It seems in line with the Categorical Imperative to follow one’s nature, even if there are questionable aspects of that nature. Because you would want others to not deny their nature too.

Ironically, there’s something cruel about the Categorical Imperative itself. Kant himself concedes that virtuous compliance with the moral law can and often does cause pain.

I’m very reluctant to embrace this Sadean twist though because it can open the doors to a libertarian immoralism. For instance, if you wanted to “follow your Nature” and rape a baby what if someone did that to you when you were a baby?

This makes sense though

If the libertines experience pain, it is… only ever as an intentional means to an end, proficient as they are in transforming pain into pleasure.

I don’t claim to know why exactly many women in particular are like this, I only claim that many ARE like this. The phenomenon of masochism seems to complexify Kant’s theory rather than refute it. I don’t know why, when I tell a woman I’m going to use her as a urinal, she returns for more. You think I can explain that! Both sides of the equation are evidently “following their Nature”, and it is a questionable Nature we have.

Who cares, they [the libertine rogues] dare to say, about our neighbour’s pains? Do we feel them? No. Quite the opposite! We have just demonstrated that these pains engender a delicious sensation [in us]

What Lacan calls “delighting in evil” I see as just retribution. Cruelty to certain people is simply what they deserve, and some can even sense they deserve it (and that explains in part the pleasure they derive from it).

See, you can’t imagine Kant saying this, yet there seems to be something of a “moral law” about it

the sufferings of that slut inflame my imagination so intensely that I don’t quite know what I’m doing

We’re asking the question of “what being a good person” is.

I don’t think enjoying ourselves no matter the cost to others, as in the philosophy of Sade, is going to lead to a good society. At the same time, it doesn’t seem like it would be a good society if people weren’t allowed to follow their egoistic nature. So this is a mind-bending little puzzle of Lacan’s.

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