Social Contract, Masochist Contract: Aesthetics of Freedom and Submission in Rousseau

SUNY Press
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Provocative reading of the role masochism plays in structuring the aesthetics and political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Theorization of sensual desire was not uncommon in the eighteenth century; like many materialists of the French Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau rejected imperatives founded on metaphysical suppositions and viewed the senses as the only valid source of philosophical knowledge. In Social Contract, Masochist Contract, Fayçal Falaky demonstrates that what distinguishes Rousseau is that the foundational measure on which he bases his materialist philosophy is a sexual instinct endowed, paradoxically, with the same sublime, self-abnegating attributes historically associated with Christian, metaphysical desire. To understand the aesthetics of Rousseau’s masochism is, Falaky argues, to understand how ideals of Christian morality and spiritual ennoblement survived the Enlightenment, and how God died, only to be repackaged in new fetishes. Whether it is the imperious mistress of his erotic fantasies, the Arcadian nature of his philosophical reveries, or the sublime Law designed to elevate the citizen from enslaving appetite, Rousseau’s fetishes herald the new regulative Ideals of the modern secular state.
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About the author

Fayçal Falaky is Assistant Professor of French at Tulane University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2014
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781438449913
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / French
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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'Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape.'

When Don Featherstone's plastic pink flamingos were first advertised in the 1957 Sears catalogue, these were the instructions. The flamingos are placed on the cover of this book for another reason: to start us asking questions. That's where philosophy always begins.

Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is written to introduce students to a broad array of questions that have occupied philosophers since antiquity, and which continue to bother us today-questions like:
- Is there something special about something's being art? Can a mass-produced plastic bird have that special something?
- If someone likes plastic pink flamingos, does that mean they have bad taste? Is bad taste a bad thing?
- Do Featherstone's pink flamingos mean anything? If so, does that depend on what Featherstone meant in designing them?

Each chapter opens using a real world example - such as Marcel Duchamp's signed urinal, The Exorcist, and the ugliest animal in the world - to introduce and illustrate the issues under discussion. These case studies serve as touchstones throughout the chapter, keeping the concepts grounded and relatable.

With its trademark conversational style, clear explanations, and wealth of supporting features, Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is the ideal introduction to the major problems, issues, and debates in the field. Now expanded and revised for its second edition, Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is designed to give readers the background and the tools necessary to begin asking and answering the most intriguing questions about art and beauty, even when those questions are about pink plastic flamingos.
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