Sade’s Despotism of Passions or Evil in Nature

  • Jelica Šumič-Riha
Keywords: Ethics, politics, Nature, enjoyment, evil


In this paper the author gives a detailed critical discussion of the conditions of possibility of the politics and/or ethics of enjoyment such as that conceived by Sade. She begins by discussing the hypothesis advanced by a set of eminent interprets of Sade’s work according to which there is an irreducible antagonism between the disruptive passions and the social bond. She then goes on to discuss the central theme of this essay, namely, society rooted in the imperative of enjoyment, and then makes a number of remarks about the viability of such a project. As a consequence of this discussion, the author turns to the question of the evil inherent to enjoyment. She concludes that the entire project of the politics and ethics of enjoyment is centered around the deculpabilisation of passions and enjoyment since, in Sade, the evilness of enjoyment is imputed to Nature. It could thus be said, argues the author, that Nature is Sade’s “symptom”, denouncing in this way that Sade, the theorist of enjoyment, is unable and/or unwilling to assume the evilness of enjoyment.


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How to Cite
Šumič-RihaJ. Sade’s Despotism of Passions or Evil in Nature. FV [Internet]. 2016Jan.17 [cited 2020Sep.22];21(3). Available from: