ABSTRACT

This chapter explores Sade's complex relationship with the broader Enlightenment's modes of representing the human. Its study of Sade's philosophical anthropology draws into focus the polymorphous nature of Enlightenment humanism and the manner in which its various moments could be, and in Sade were, drawn apart and indeed set against each other. It argues that in an ethical-political sense Sade was not a humanist and, further, even as he engaged in constructing a science of the human it is not always clear that Sade's philosophical anthropology in fact privileged humankind in the order of nature. Sade's dissolution of the other and his dismissal of their unjustified egoism, the movement away from the egoism of the first-person subject, were done in different terms, terms taken from d'Holbach's metaphysics. Sensationism, specifically to Etienne Bonnot de Condillac's systematization of an epistemology very widely accepted in the period, placed the first-person subject at the centre of the epistemic world.