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The Nature of LoveCourtly and Romantic$
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Irving Singer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262512732

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262512732.001.0001

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Sade and Stendhal

Sade and Stendhal

(p.344) 11 Sade and Stendhal
The Nature of Love

Irving Singer

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade and how it is derived from the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, specifically Rousseau’s Confessions. Although Sade’s ideas were indeed inspired by Rousseau, the logical progression from which they are derived would have been rejected by Rousseau himself. Stendhal is another Rousseau-inspired philosopher who used a similar logical progression, but he was also inspired by Sade. In this respect, Stendhal must be studied in relation to both Rousseau and Sade. Rousseau’s philosophy is rooted in self-love or what he refers to as amour de soi. Rousseau believed this to be the fundamental fact about human nature. From this self-love rose the social ethic that justifies unselfish behavior and amour-propre. Sade accepts this premise but reaches diametrically opposite conclusions. Stendhal’s writings can be considered as one long attempt to construct a synthesis between the two extremes presented by Rousseau and Sade.

Keywords:   Marquis de Sade, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Stendhal, self-love, amour de soi, human nature, social ethic, amour-propre

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