To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Chapter 1 investigates the English Reformation conversation on contentment, beginning with early sixteenth-century translations of St. Paul’s epistles and Martin Luther’s works and ending with texts from the English Revolution. Renaissance authors did not invent contentedness, but they drew upon available traditions to reinvent a contentment consistent with Protestant ideals and adapted to the needs of English audiences. Chapter 1 charts the role of contentment in Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, Charles I’s Eikon Basilike, and Hobbes’s Leviathan, as well as an archive of sermons and theological treatises. First, it traces the notion of Christian contentment to two passages in 1 Timothy 6 and Philippians 4, which featured heavily in the cultural discourse. Next, it examines how reformers reconcile contentment, suffering, and even martyrdom. Then, it analyzes the relationship between contentment and contemporary theories of embodiment and the passions. Finally, it shows how authors extended individual contentedness to the body politic. During the Renaissance, contentment became a prominent Protestant principle of fortifying self and society.
Chapter 3 redirects the scholarly trend of characterizing Spenser’s works as defined by personal and political discontent, and it instead examines their relationship to sixteenth-century models of contentedness. This study of The Faerie Queene and the Complaints volume demonstrates that Spenser privileges a situational contentment. In Book I, neither Red Cross nor Una can maintain contentment at all times, but the emotion punctuates experiences like productive sadness and pious anger, and it protects against overly destructive passions. While Book I presents contentedness coexisting with other emotions, Mother Hubberds Tale imagines an uneasy alliance between contentment and complaint. Finally, through the character of Melibee in Book VI, Spenser makes his most explicit case for contentment, yet it is embedded in an episode that emphasizes the sway of sexual desire and the intense threat it can pose when unrestrained. In his last concerted representation of contentment, Spenser emphasizes its appeal and fragility. Thus, Chapter 3 highlights the affective continuities between the 1590 and 1596 Faerie Queene, and between Spenser’s major and minor works.
Bernard Reginster provides a different perspective on some of these themes, deepening our understanding of Schopenhauer's pessimism. This is rooted in the idea that there is something systematically delusive about desire, since fulfilling our desires does not give the lasting satisfaction we would want. But Schopenhauer holds out the possibility that we can detach from our desires through resignation. How is such detachment possible? Reginster confronts the same problem we saw in Chapter 1, that the act of denial of the will cannot itself be an act of will; but he looks to a solution Janaway rejected, namely, Schopenhauer’s appeal to a secularized version of the Christian concept of grace. In probing the structure of resignation, Reginster argues that it must involve some “incentive” in the form of cognitive insight into “the will's inner conflict and its essential nothingness,” (WWR 1, 68, 424–470) which leads one to voluntary asceticism, that is, mortification of the will, which in turn leads to resignation. He shows that Schopenhauer provides two mechanisms for this, plausible by the standards of contemporary psychology: hedonic adaptation (i.e. “getting used to” deprivation) and physical weakening of the body, which, as objectified will, weakens the will.
I begin my interpretation of the text by situating the idea of recognition in Hegel’s account of “self-consciousness.” I argue that what is distinctive of self-consciousness is not that it is apperceptive (all forms of consciousness are apperceptive in a significant sense for Hegel), but rather that it has a specific “double-object” structure. Just as the implicit aim of any shape of consciousness is to achieve knowledge of its object, so the implicit aim of self-consciousness is to achieve knowledge of its (ultimate) object, namely itself. Instead of depending on the idea of a quasi-natural “desire for recognition,” recognition provides a novel instance of this double-object structure, which it shares with desire. I show that recognizing and being recognized by others are sources of a distinctive kind of self-knowledge, but they are not necessary for the achievement of (mere) self-consciousness. My account also shows why recognition is necessarily reciprocal, since a relation of recognition between subjects has the “double-object” structure characteristic of self-consciousness only when both individuals relate to one another in the specific mode of recognition. I conclude by demonstrating how acts of recognizing give rise to forms of sociality.
Medical guidelines addressing sexual intercourse during pregnancy are lacking. However, patients can find an abundance of information on the web. In short, sex during normal pregnancy is permitted. The most common reasons for abstaining from sex in pregnancy are placental problems, ruptured membranes, and pregnancies in which there is a high likelihood of premature labor. Orgasms are safe, as are oral and anal sex, as long as intercourse is not forbidden and different sexual positions are acceptable but it is preferable not to lie on the back.
What is curiosity? An attractive option is that it is a desire to know. This analysis has been recently challenged by what I call interrogativism, the view that inquiring attitudes such as curiosity have questions rather than propositions as contents. In this paper, I defend the desire-to-know view, and make three contributions to the debate. First, I refine the view in a way that avoids the problems of its simplest version. Second, I present a new argument for the desire-to-know view that focuses on ascriptions of the form ‘S is curious to ϕ’, which, despite their prevalence, have been ignored in the literature. Third, I examine the central motivation for interrogativism – the argument from metacognition, according to which animals can be curious yet do not have the metacognitive capacities required by desires to know – and argue that it rests on questionable assumptions about desires and attitude ascriptions.
The Sonnets have been a long-standing object of interest for scholars of early modern memory. However, this essay turns attention away from cultural or collective memory to questions of individual recollection. The chapter explores the poetic speaker’s efforts to understand how his own memory functions and how he might influence the memories of those to whom his poems are addressed. In doing so, the discussion takes as its focus how recollection is co-constitutive of erotic pleasure in the poems. Upon analysis, it is found that the Sonnets overtly tie mental recollection to the revivification of bodily pleasures. The Sonnets constitute a project of bringing the speaker’s past and future loves into his present. The power of the speaker’s desire is thus able to enable a resurrection of lost beloveds in lyric time.
Known for her detective fiction, Dorothy L. Sayers – having received early training in medieval continental romance and languages –dedicated the final decade of her life to her true passion project: her Penguin translation of The Divine Comedy. Her Dante, read by millions, was a fellow master of story-telling: funny, self-deprecating, passionate. In her letters and lectures, she constructed vivid fantasies of Dante as a living man, centering particularly around her readings of a controversial erotic canzone. This chapter reads these fantasies not as transparent escapism from a troubled personal life but, in conjunction with her feminist essays and treatment of the complex sexual politics of Dante’s ‘Terrible Ode’, as a performance of self-authorization, mitigating the audacity of a detective novelist ‘doing’ Dante by modelling alternative relations with medieval authority. This chapter thus reveals a feminist function of fantasies of the Middle Ages in the modern scholarly imaginary.
The question of the meaning of life has long been thought to be closely intertwined with that of the existence of God. I offer a new theistic, anti-naturalist argument from the meaning of life. It is argued that the desire for life is irrational on naturalism, since there would be no good reason to believe that life is worthwhile on the whole if naturalism were true. As I show, the same cannot be argued of theism. Since it is clear that the desire for life is not irrational, it is concluded that we have strong reason to prefer theism over naturalism.
This chapter surveys different aspects of the theme of love (erōs) in Plotinus’ philosophy. Starting with what Plotinus finds significant in the human experience of love, we consider Plotinus’ nuanced evaluation of various types of earthly love (including sexuality), moving then to love as a desire of the beautiful expressing the very nature of soul in its relation to its origin in a divine transcendent Intellect, itself constituted in a relation of love to the ultimate first principle, the One/Good. Plotinus’ claim that the One is love/self-love is examined and two aspects of love, as expressing deficiency and as a generosity manifesting fulfilment, are discussed in relation to the One and as found in Intellect and in soul.
Love and rhetoric are two major topics in Plato’s Phaedrus, unified by the dialogue’s theme of psychagōgia, or soul-leading. In Socrates’ great speech, the Palinode, Socrates explains how properly directed eros can assist souls in becoming the types of souls who will be capable of ascending closer to the forms and who will know themselves better. The Palinode is also itself an example of Socratic soul-leading with Phaedrus. Socrates acts akin a true lover to Phaedrus, in leading him towards philosophy and a philosophically informed view of rhetoric.
Elite friendship discourse in the Renaissance was shaped by a set of commonplaces inherited from classical antiquity according to which friends were virtuous, male, and few in number, and their relationships egalitarian and non-sexual. Neoplatonic love had the power to disrupt many of these received ideas. Ficino’s account of male friendship in his Lysis commentary emphasized the importance of spiritual desire in initiating relationships and foregrounded a pedagogical dimension more in keeping with a chaste version of Greek pederasty than the non-hierarchical models of friendship inherited from Aristotle and Cicero. In a poem on the Platonic androgyne, Antoine Héroët used the language of friendship to describe heterosexual unions as offering a potential step towards union with God. Bonaventure des Périers warned instead of the dangers of earthly erotic entanglements in a verse commentary to his translation of Plato’s Lysis, thereby concurring with the beliefs of his benefactor Marguerite de Navarre while suggesting that female community might offer the soul some solace before death provided the possibility of joining with God. Finally, Montaigne’s unorthodox account of his relationship with his deceased friend La Boétie engaged with the Neoplatonic tradition while eschewing the possibility it might facilitate spiritual ascent.
Augustine is rightly regarded as one of the major figures of Christianity. Through him Platonist and Neo-Platonist philosophy was appropriated in the new religious context and there is hardly another thinker of the early Christian tradition who can better illustrate Nietzsche’s remark on Christianity as a Platonism for the people than Augustine. Things are, however, more complicated than Nietzsche suggests. As Étienne Gilson has showed, there is a strong tension between medieval Aristotelianism and the necessity to respect the early foundational authority, which Saint Augustine incontestably was. Aquinas has in this sense a quite complicated relation to his predecessor. In order to understand what is at stake in Augustine’s understanding of the biblical message of love, heavily influenced by Paul, it is important not only to describe the Neoplatonist roots of Augustine’s thought, but also to take the wider ancient context into account – and in this way arrive at a more complete picture of the historical and intellectual setting. The modification Augustine brings to the Aristotelian conception of the soul is hereby particularly revealing. A closer study of the relation between desire and love can shed some light on this highly significant constellation.
It is a struggle to hold society together. Historically, that task has fallen both to law and religion. Sovereignty, the source of law’s binding power, like the miracle in Carl Schmidt’s political theology, lies outside law itself. That origin coincides with the kenotic excess of the sacred.
This chapter explores that strange excess through a visual genealogy of shifting sovereign imaginaries. They range from early modern legal emblems picturing the transcendental body of the King, to modern and late modern paintings and films depicting a metaphysical shift to the sacred body of the People. The question this visual history confronts is not whether the sacred binds the nomos of law, but how?
The corporeal image goes beyond conceptual abstraction. It is a site from which desire (what Freud calls the cathexis of libido) binds us to values, rituals, and institutions. Libidinal investment ties us to a shared symbolic identity; disinvestment, by contrast, invites psychic and political-legal collapse.
As the contemporary crisis in liberal democracy deepens, we ask: what sovereign imaginary will break the pall of collective anxiety and unrest, and will it come in the service of human flourishing?
The motivation underlying lust killing normally arises from a merging of desires for sex and dominance. Although anger is a negative emotion, aggression has properties of an appetitive activity. Heterosexual lust killers generally have a grievance against women. Homosexual lust killers appear to be unhappy about their sexual orientation, often because of taunting. A distinction is drawn between affective and predatory aggression. An act of killing is commonly preceded by taking alcohol or illegal drugs, viewing violent pornography or acute stress, such as a fight with a partner. Brains are a hybrid of regions old in evolution and development and regions that are new. A Go-System, also known as a behavioural activation system, employs dopamine and underlies engagement with incentives. This system is strongly activated by the prospect of reward in individuals high on a psychopathy score. Sex differences in sexual violence are discussed in terms of brain processes.
Since the arguments that Plato provides in the Republic for the thesis that the human soul consists of three parts (reason, spirit, appetite) are notoriously problematic, I propose other reasons for accepting tripartition: reasons that we too could endorse, or at least entertain with some sympathy. To wit, (a) the appetitive part of Plato’s divided soul houses desires and tendencies we have because we are animal bodies programmed to survive (as individuals and as a species) in disequilibrium with a variegated, often varying environment, (b) the spirited middle part houses status concerns that belong to us as social animals, while (c) what makes us rational animals is a faculty of reason, conceived in strikingly non-Humean terms, which determines what is best all things considered. Other psychic tendencies may then be explained in terms of the education and mutual interaction of the three parts we are ‘programmed’ for from birth.
Instead of taking the impossibility of certain knowledge in experience as an intellectual problem, Cavell understands it as an existential condition. Philosophers have traditionally disavowed that condition by turning skepticism into an intellectual problem. The pathology behind that disavowal becomes the center of what Krebs calls Cavell’s “clinical turn.” The philosophical criticism resulting from that turn involves a radical change in attitude, where thinking is – as Cavell puts it – a mode of praise. This essay argues that thinking as praise makes receptiveness paramount, and requires a reconnection with feeling and passion that brings the body back into philosophy.
In this essay I ask if there are reasons that count in favor of having a desire in virtue of its attitudinal nature. I call those considerations desire's own reasons. I argue that desire's own reasons are considerations that explain why a desire meets its constitutive standard of correctness and that it meets this standard when its satisfaction would also be satisfactory to the subject who has it. Reasons that bear on subjective satisfaction are fit to regulate desires through experience and imagination because desires are naturally sensitive to them. I also analyze the limits of application that such reasons have and how desire's own reasons relate to other kinds of reasons.
The discussion of the term ‘new paganism’ in Chapter 1 notes the homophobic intimations that some critics made when addressing Algernon Swinburne’s andWalter Pater’s decadent works. However, as Swinburne’s ‘The Leper’ (1866) and Pater’s Marius the Epicurean (1885) make apparent, the intimacies that construct ecological communities are often far more amorphous or unprecedented than homophobic innuendos suggest. Chapter 3 addresses decadent desires as modes of perspectival code-switching accomplished through trans-species intimacies. Focussing on the strategic paganism in works by painter Simeon Solomon and poets Michael Field, I offer two queer models of what Henry Salt theorized, in Animals’ Rights (1892), as imaginative sympathy.
In this chapter I uncover the place of animals within imperial discourses. This repertoire of representations served to denigrate Burmese populations as being too close to animals but did so ambivalently. Imperial texts also revealed their authors’ barely sublimated desires for the colonized Other and their own close, emotional connections with non-human creatures.