Space and Desire

Diogenes 33 (132):34-59 (1985)
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Abstract

One of the dominant characteristics of Western philosophical and literary history of the last two centuries is that the object of desire (in the novel) and the object of perception (in epistemology) have been made to reveal aspects which are more complex than the classical age had suspected. With Descartes, everything was clear: the object is but a portion of extension. But with Kant things already become more complicated: the object has a mysterious. en-soi (an sich-in itself) which escapes us. And the object of desire, in literature, acquires such a mystic character that it loses its status of creature. “For what the romantic lover seeks is not really the beloved”, writes Eric Heller. “Intermingled with his erotic craving, inarticulate, diffuse, and yet dominating it, is the desire for spiritual salvation.” It is no longer the object (the creature) which one wishes to embrace, but the invisible reality mirrored in it. Desire does not tend so much toward objects as toward what lies beyond these objects where, it believes, it will find its salvation.

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Discours de la méthode.René Descartes - 1949 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 3 (4):603-604.

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