– Description of the Event: “In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.” Sade Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, best known as the Marquis de Sade, was a French aristocrat and author who was famous for his libertine lifestyle and his writings on sexuality. He was arrested or committed on several occasions over his lifetime, spending over 30 years of his life imprisoned, accused of abusive sexual practices and obscene writings.
But beyond his notorious reputation, who was he really?
The Marquis de Sade has the distinction of being one of the few humans in history whose name has become a shorthand for a personality trait, with “sadism” becoming shorthand for attaining personal pleasure by inflicting pain on another. But as with Machiavelli, whose political theories extend far beyond the idea that it is acceptable to use any means necessary to achieve one’s goals, De Sade’s actual philosophies may have been obscured as De Sade the man was reduced in our collective consciousness to merely an adjective derived from his name.
Despite (or maybe because) of De Sade’s scandalous behaviour and writings, he was influential to many philosophers, writers, and artists, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Baudelaire, and Alexander Swinburne, among many others. De Sade also influenced modern psychology, with Sigmund Freud saying he was a “psychopath” who understood the workings of the human mind better than anyone else.
So in this talk, we will explore the question: who was the real Marquis de Sade? Were his works intended to be actually obscene, or were they instead a satirical critique of the restrictive sexual mores of his time? Was he, in the words of cultural critic Camille Paglia “the freest spirit that ever lived?” or, as feminist academic Andrea Dworkin put it, was he simply “the world’s most foremost pornographer?”
Please note that this discussion talk will include adult themes and discussion of sexuality. However, it is not intended to explore his writings in detail, but more to examine his influence on Western thought. Therefore, the recommended age for those attending is 16+.
– About the Speaker: Armchair philosopher and long-time Gozo resident, Erin Steele, enjoys pondering the complexities of human motivation and tackling controversial philosophical subjects. She returns to Arthall to discuss De Sade after presenting other talks, such as “Are we living in a Simulation?” in which she presented the theory that our perceived reality is actually a virtual world created by an unknown advanced civilization, and “Shades of Anarchy” in which she explored various theories on stateless societies based on free and voluntary associations.
– Contact details Arthall: Marta Obiols Fornell at [email protected] or 77051564. Opening hours: From Wednesday to Saturday from 10-13 and 17-19; Sunday from 10-12. Visit: arthallgozo.com or https://www.facebook.com/ArtHallGozo Address: 8, triq Agius de Soldanis, Victoria, Gozo. https://goo.gl/maps/UYnexMPz9SRRxD1R9