Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Government of DesireA Genealogy of the Liberal Subject$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Recognition, That “Most Ardent Desire”

Recognition, That “Most Ardent Desire”

(p.143) 6 Recognition, That “Most Ardent Desire”
The Government of Desire

Miguel de Beistegui

University of Chicago Press

This chapter turns to the birth of the homo symbolicus, and of the discourse of recognition, as the third and final pillar of liberalism investigated in the book. It raises the following question: how is it that, whilst combated for over a thousand years in the western world, self-love (amor sui) has become a key mechanism of government, and a fundamental way of understanding and governing the self ? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the manner in which, beginning with Rousseau, Adam Smith and some of their followers, a negative form of desire (cupiditas, libido, amor sui) was turned into a positive force, that is, a key engine of ethical and political life. The longing and struggle for recognition (as the German idealists called it) became, and continues to be, the measure of social progress, and a force behind the transformation of positive law in the last two hundred years. This "most ardent desire of human nature," Adam Smith argues, is one that any progressive politics should include, and can ignore only at its own peril.

Keywords:   self-love, self-esteem, (self-)respect, Rousseau, Kant, dignity, recognition, human rights, solidarity, Honneth

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.