© 2018

Sade’s Philosophical System in its Enlightenment Context

  • Meets a market need: fills the gap for a substantial English-language study of Sade’s contribution to Enlightenment philosophy

  • Takes a rigorous approach: uses contextual intellectual history to reconstruct Sade’s philosophy in its Enlightenment setting

  • Provides a broad assessment: encompasses Sade’s non-libertine works such as Aline et Valcour as well as his major novel Historie de Juliette


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvii
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 3-20
    3. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 21-45
  3. The Body of Sensibility: Ontology, Epistemology, Genre

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 47-47
    2. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 83-106
  4. Moral Sense, Pleasant Sensations, and Libertine Sensibility

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 107-112
    2. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 113-130
    3. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 131-150
  5. The Authority of Nature: Sade’s Use and Critique of the Natural Law Tradition

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 167-167
    2. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 169-180
    3. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 201-227
  6. Ethical Self-Fashioning and the Problem of Libertine Sociability in Histoire de Juliette; or, Histoire de Juliette comme roman d’apprentissage

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 229-229
    2. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 231-255
    3. Henry Martyn Lloyd
      Pages 257-280
  7. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 281-281

About this book


This book connects the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade—one of the most notorious, iconic, and yet poorly-understood figures within the history of European thought—with the broader themes of the Enlightenment. Rather than seeing himself as a mere pornographer, Sade understood himself as continuing the progressive tradition of French Enlightenment philosophy. Sade aspired to be a philosophe. This book uses intellectual history and the history of philosophy to reconstruct Sade’s philosophical ‘system’ and its historical context. Within the period’s discourse of sensibility Sade draws on the philosophical and the literary to form a relatively sophisticated ‘system’ which he deploys to critically engage with the two major strands of eighteenth-century ethical theory: the moral sense and natural law traditions. This work is of interest to: ‘Continental’ Philosophy, Critical Theory, French Studies, the History of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy, Literary Studies, the History of Moral Philosophy, and Enlightenment Studies. 


Eighteenth-century thought Enlightenment philosophy Sensibility Morality Natural Law

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryUniversity of QueenslandSaint LuciaAustralia

About the authors

Henry Martyn Lloyd is Junior Research Fellow in Enlightenment Studies at the University of Sydney and an Honorary Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Queensland, Australia. He specialises in the History of Philosophy with a particular interest in the French Enlightenment and in traditions of ‘Continental’ philosophy.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Sade’s Philosophical System in its Enlightenment Context
  • Authors Henry Martyn Lloyd
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-97195-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-40537-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-97196-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXVII, 305
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Philosophy
    Moral Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Henry Martyn Lloyd’s richly textured, historically informed, and philosophically astute study succeeds where others have failed in situating Sade’s notorious corpus of works within the broader landscape of eighteenth-century thought.  By laying out the ways in which his peculiar mélange of literature and philosophy was a response to the positions staked out by Rousseau, Condillac, d’Holbach, and other, less familiar contemporaries, Lloyd allows us to see Sade as an informed — albeit often idiosyncratic — participant in the arguments and approaches that shaped the late Enlightenment.  The result is an insightful and engaging account of a thinker who was neither a stranger to the concerns of the Enlightenment nor a symptom of its alleged pathologies.” (Prof. James Schmidt, Boston University, USA)