The Enlightenment Period

Counter-Enlightenment Figures

What was the intellectual merit of de Sade’s endeavors?

De Sade was elected to the National Convention in 1790 and wrote political pamphlets calling for a direct vote. Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) and other twentieth century existentialists interpreted a radical doctrine of freedom in his writings. His emphasis on the importance of sexuality in human life is said to have anticipated Sigmund Freud. Others have seen seeds of nihilism in his work. The twentieth century psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan claimed that de Sade’s ethics were a counterpart to Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) categorical imperative. The twentieth century feminist Andrea Dworkin (1946–2005) analyzed de Sade to illustrate the inherently violent misogynistic nature of all heterosexual pornography.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App