Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The Laws of Hostility

Politics, Violence, and the Enlightenment

1996
Author:

Pierre Saint-Amand
Translated by Jennifer Curtiss Gage
Foreword by Chantal Mouffe

Book Default Image

Exposes the hostility lurking below the surface of French Enlightenment texts.

The Marquis de Sade, and not Jean-Jacques Rousseau, may be the truer voice of the Enlightenment. In this compelling reading of the canon of Enlightenment thinkers from Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot to Rousseau and Sade, Pierre Saint-Amand uncovers the hostility that lurks beneath the philosophers’ progressive rationality.

The Marquis de Sade, and not Jean-Jacques Rousseau, may be the truer voice of the Enlightenment. In this compelling reading of the canon of Enlightenment thinkers from Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot to Rousseau and Sade, Pierre Saint-Amand uncovers the hostility that lurks beneath the philosophers’ progressive rationality.

Society and sociability take center stage in Enlightenment texts and in current interpretations, but Saint-Amand reveals that reciprocity, the principle behind sociability, is always based on imitation, which inevitably degenerates into competition and rivalry. Probing the excesses of the Enlightenment, he exposes at its heart a crisis of law founded on violence. His book specifically addresses the bad faith of the Enlightenment philosophers in their refusal to consider the violent origins of society. As an alternative, The Laws of Hostility emphasizes the antagonisms and conflicts in the representation of social life and the understanding of human experience.


Book Default Image

Pierre Saint-Amand is professor of French studies and comparative literature at Brown University.

Jennifer Curtiss Gage is a freelance translator who has been awarded the Gregory Rabassa Prize for prose translation by the American Literary Translators Association.

About This Book