Many people seem to insinuate this book had a deeper meaning. For example, according to wikipedia Sade's books "challenge perceptions of sexuality, religion, law, age, and gender in ways that de Sade would argue are incompatible with the supernatural". For me this is a bit too vague to even understand, but it sounds like rubbish.
I read this trash, and it seemed to me to be merely a sexual fantasy/fetish of Sade, which he wrote in prison to be able to experience some sexual relief or something. Sade is known to have hired tons of prostitutes (who complained about him torturing them), he had sexual relations with his sister in law. He impisoned and abused "Rose Keller" (hmm.. doesn't that remind you of what happened in this book?). His entire life seems like he is one of the libertines he describes in this book, minus the coprophagia perhaps.
Can anyone explain to me why we haven't totally disregarded this man as a lunatic and his books as his deprived fantasies?
"Evil is rationally self-consistent."
Sade was a horny guy and into S&M games, but I doubt he was a villain in any way. If everything said about him was true, he was an actual villain in his twenties, but he was an upstanding citizen from 1789 onward. a lot of the infamy I suppose was to sell books. He was a far left former Noble writing to expose power structure, and he provided the French revolution with a collection of far left religious texts, which do not mention Christ or God in any positive sense, but draw it from negative space. It's the foundation of noir, of modern villains.
The essence of religion is in rejecting Sade's villains' philosophy when you are put in their shoes, all the rest is corollaries. Religion is not about sex games, it's about evil and power.
Sade is suppresed, so Nietzsche steals his villains' philosophy, and contemptibly, takes it seriously. The Nazis were Sade made real, it was uncanny. From 1945 on, Sade is read, because Nazi type evil made it clear what he was talking about way back when.
I don't really understand what you mean by "rationally self-consistent", the term "self-consistent" is kind of foreign to me. I suspect you mean that you can rationally defend evil behaviour?
If so, I don't understand what is so profound about this. The very concept of "evil" is entirely subjective, that is why you need to have non-objective measures (ethics, which in many cases means religion) to counteract this evil. Because objectively, you cannot really argue what is "evil" and what is not. Is this the major breakthrough in thought de Sade gave you, or am I missing something?
I admit that I haven't read any of Nietzsche's stuff, the only thing I know about him is that he once said "God is dead". I might read some of his stuff, perhaps that will help me to see Sade's work in a different light.
I A2A'd you because I had a hunch you wrote the "challenge perceptions of sexuality, religion, law, age, and gender in ways that de Sade would argue are incompatible with the supernatural" part on wikipedia.
What is bothering me in this interpretation is that it too coincidental for Sade to be a libertine himself, and write stories about libertines which actually have such a significant message, instead of just being his fantasies.
To me the far more likely explanation is that the books were some sort of sexual fantasy of his, where he went overboard on the depravity. He exaggerated stuff he actually did; every man does this. Instead of imagining having sex with your girlfriend, you imagine having sex with a supermodel. The fact that it is 'rationally self-consistent" can be explained by the fact that he did the stuff himself to some extent in the past (this is the very reason he was in prison), so he had to justify his behaviour in his mind.
The fact that he wrote this in prison strengthens my point, in my opinion:
- He was in prison, he had nobody to relief his sexual tension or whatever, so he wrote his fantasies down in the form of a story, loosely based on his own experience (except exaggerated/expanded)!
- As I mentioned, he justified his fantasies/crimes in his head, that's why they are "rationally self-consistent". The fact that he was in prison might have helped; he made it rationally self-consistent as a sort of consolation to himself: "I don't deserve to be in this hellhole, here, my crimes can be rationally justified!"
It is a much simpler explanation, it would also explain his criminal tendencies (which your explanation doesn't), and it fits his behaviour.
"Rationally self-consistent" means that a powerless person facing an evil order of powerful but intelligent Nobles is helpless to get them to behave better using rational arguments. There are no rational arguments, their despicable behavior is self consistent. It makes sense, but it is also impossible to empathize with. So you are put in a weird place, where there are all these intelligent rational folks making sensible meticulous arguments, and you can see what they are saying, and that it is consistent, but you cannot join them psychologically, it is impossible to do so and stay sane.
So it induces a religious experience. Plain and simple. He is torturing your brain to make the God part stand out, by stripping all the rational constructions you place around it to explain it away.
Even if he started writing as you say, to justify old crimes, the place he ended up was enlightened, he isn't the same person as a writer as when he is a criminal.
Perhaps this is how he started writing, making a rational argument for libertine behavior, and fantasizing about total power. But as he made the argument, he entered darker and darker spaces, and it turned into a reductio ad absurdum, it became impossible to sustain, and not because there is any rational flaw in the argument! But because it keeps butting into a hard-wired moral antenna in human beings.
Sade has this sensitivity same as anyone, more in fact, because he came at it from such a weird vantage point. This is how Sade makes clear the moral aspects of human existence, and that it is not arbitrary or socially conditioned, because he conditions his characters the opposite way. The ethics are there, clear to the reader, even in this preposterous order he sets up where any little virtue is rewarded with horrific tortures, and every crime has a great material reward, That's what makes him valuable--- he reveals God using negative space, by describing a world without God, a vision of hell, accurately and honestly.
So that style of writing made the religious part of human nature clear, the same way film noir does. Having read his work, it produced a profound religious experience in me, just so as to reject this thinking.
I am 100% sure that Sade had a similar religious experience, either in prison during the writing of the 120 Days, or somewhat earlier. He revisits the same themes again in the later complete mature works, so he is writing sacred text, really, writing which brings a person to see God.
The profound religiosity of the work is apparent in the sacrilege scenes in "The Misfortunes of Virtue", the respect for the inner moral sense, which the evil of the villains is designed to suppress.
His writing is Christian, the figure of Justine is that of a true saint. He goes further in theology with Eugenie de Franval, showing a case where all traditional notions of ethics are turned upside down, in a disorienting ethical parable.
He wrote a wonderful transgender story, about a homosexual woman who dresses as a man, to meet women at a party, who seduces a homosexual man who is dressed as a woman at the same party! They then fall in live and have a straightforward heterosexual relationship, against their instincts, but it is very touching.
This kind of transgender love story would be expected only to appear in the 1970s, or 1980s. His religious instincts had moved to a very modern place, because his religious sense was not purely or mainly derived from authority or musty books, but from rejecting the exertion of power of one person over another, without all the associated judgements on sexually nonstandard folks, homosexuality, as happens in other religious writing. He doesn't see homosexuality as sinful. He sees exertions of power as sinful (and sexy). This combination of sex and power is dangerous and taboo, but he goes there, with glee.
In later life, he was treated badly, but he wasn't out raping and pillaging, he was writing, and maintained an independence from traditional Christianity, while spreading the message through other means.
Nazism was created to promote the good of one group of people at the expense of others. It being good or evil depends on which groups are affected by its beliefs.
This very idea is the essence of evil, it doesn't matter which group is getting the raw deal.
Except when it's Nazis getting the raw deal, then it's good.
I didn't say it doesn't matter which group gets the raw deal, we still have to make that decision through out our lives, and you've decided to harm Nazism for your reasons.
How would you have dealt with Himmler if you had the choice?
No, not for my reason, I didn't make the decision personally, or rather my decision coincides with that of the children of the former Nazis, so it is in a sense objective.
This is how you make Nazi ethics (Nietzsche's ethics), by assuming it works this way you describe. This is wrong, and it is good to give folks who use this algorithm a raw deal, until they stop doing it.
I don't care about individuals. For Himmler, probably life imprisonment in a country other than Germany, with a lot of reporter access, but perhaps hanging is better, I trust the parties directly involved to make the right decision, not me. I don;t even know what Himmler did.
The children of Nazis were conditioned to think a certain way, the Allies came along and replaced it with something else that made Germans get along better with other powerful groups in the world. There's nothing objective about this way of thinking, human beings can think up anything that seems rational in their reality because it makes their lives better, while appearing crazy in the lives of others.
You can create any ethic including Nazi ethics, anti-Nazi ethics, pro-Islamic ethics, universal human rights ethics etc. The one which promotes cooperation amongst the greatest number of powerful groups able to fight for their agenda wins.
This is just not true. If the powerful groups get it wrong, you get big trouble for many centuries.
Exactly, and the United Nations replaced the League of Nations for this very reason.