Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France

Synopsis

This now classic work by one of the most important philosophers and critics of our time charts the trajectory of desire and its genesis from Hegel's formulation in Phenomenology of Spirit through its appropriation by Koj ve, Hyppolite, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze, and Foucault, presenting how French reception of Hegel posed successive challenges to his metaphysics and view of the subject and revealed ambiguities within his position. Subjects of Desire provides a sophisticated account of the post-Hegelian tradition that has predominated in modern France and remains timely in thinking about contemporary debates concerning desire, the unconscious, subjection, and the subject.

Excerpt

Subjects of Desire is my 1984 dissertation, revised in 1985–86. I wrote on the concept of desire, concentrating on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and some of the central appropriations of that theme in twentiethcentury French philosophy. Prior to my graduate studies, I was a Fulbright Scholar studying Hegel and German Idealism at the Heidelberg Universitat, attending the seminars and lectures of Dieter Henrich and Hans-Georg Gadamer. As a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Yale University in the early 1980s, I trained in the tradition of continental philosophy, studying Marx and Hegel, phenomenology, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Merleau-Ponty, and the Frankfurt School. I wrote the dissertation under Maurice Natanson, a phenomenologist who generously supported my scholarship, but let me know that French philosophy met its reasonable limit in the work of Sartre and selected writings of Merleau-Ponty. Studying at Yale in the late '70s and early '80s, I certainly knew about poststmcturalist thought, but tended to place it outside the sphere of the continental philosophical tradition I meant to study. I occasionally attended a seminar by Derrida, and more often audited Paul de Man's lectures, but for the most part worked in the traditions of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and the Frankfurt School while seeking to acquire a background in German Idealism. It was in the context of a women's studies faculty seminar that I encountered the work of Michel Foucault. And it was not until I left Yale and became a visiting faculty member and then a postdoctoral fellow at Wesleyan Uni-

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