Janus Head 11 (1&2) (2009)

Scholars have traditionally taken the Marquis de Sade to be a straightforward advocate of immoral hedonism. Without rejecting outright this view, I argue that Sade also presents an insightful theory of the psychology of pleasure, placing him amongst the more insightful psychological thinkers of the late 18th century. This paper outlines Sade’s description of the immoral will, in particular his account of how an agent can come to enjoy the humiliation, torture and murder of others. I argue for the following claims: firstly, that Sade, perhaps despite himself, suggests that the sadistic will is pathological; secondly, that Sade’s work gives a far less flattering view of the sadistic will than is commonly supposed.
Keywords Evil  Moral Psychology  18th Century French thought
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