Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France


This classic work by one of the most important philosophers and critics of our time charts the genesis and trajectory of the desiring subject from Hegel’s formulation in Phenomenology of Spirit to its appropriation by Kojève, Hyppolite, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze, and Foucault. Judith Butler plots the French reception of Hegel and the successive challenges waged against his metaphysics and view of the subject, all while revealing ambiguities within his position. The result is a sophisticated reconsideration of the post-Hegelian tradition that has predominated in modern French thought, and her study remains a provocative and timely intervention in contemporary debates over the unconscious, the powers of subjection, and the subject.


Table of Contents

1. Desire, Rhetoric, and Recognition in Hegel’s
Phenomenology of Spirit
The Ontology of Desire
Bodily Paradoxes: Lordship and Bondage

2. Historical Desires: The French Reception of Hegel
Kojève: Desire and Historical Agency
Hyppolite: Desire, Transience, and the Absolute
From Hegel to Sartre

3. Sartre: The Imaginary Pursuit of Being
Image, Emotion, and Desire
The Strategies of Pre-reflective Choice: Existential Desire in Being and Nothingness
Trouble and Longing: The Circle of Sexual
Desire in Being and Nothingness
Desire and Recognition in Saint Genet and The Family Idiot

4. The Life and Death Struggles of Desire: Hegel and Contemporary French Theory
A Questionable Patrilineage: (Post-)Hegelian Themes in Derrida and Foucault
Lacan: The Opacity of Desire
Deleuze: From Slave Morality to Productive Desire
Foucault: Dialectics Unmoored
Final Reflections on the “Overcoming” of Hegel


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