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The Government of DesireA Genealogy of the Liberal Subject$
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Miguel de Beistegui

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226547374

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226547404.001.0001

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Why Desire?

Why Desire?

(p.1) Introduction Why Desire?
The Government of Desire

Miguel de Beistegui

University of Chicago Press

Desire is everywhere – everywhere recognized, displayed, discussed, and drawn upon. It is so much part of our lives, so deeply entrenched in our bodies and minds that we cannot imagine a life without it, indeed cannot imagine what it could mean to live without experiencing its force and appeal, but also the conflicts and struggles it gives rise to. The Introduction calls this assumption into question by treating desire not as a transcendental feature of subjectivity, or a basic structure of our psychical life, but as an historical normative process, to which individuals are subjected: the manner in which we understand ourselves as subjects of desire, and the meaning we attribute to it, was shaped historically. Our experience of desire, the Introduction argues, was shaped by the emergence of three discourses - political economy, the scientia sexualis, and the philosophy of recognition - to which correspond the concepts of self-interest, sexual instinct, and longing for recognition. Together, they constitute an assemblage of knowledge and power through which we are constituted as liberal subjects: the homo economicus, sexualis, and symbolicus define the modern "Man of Desire".

Keywords:   critique, norms, power, homo economicus, homo sexualis, homo symbolicus, method

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