Kant with Sade: April 1963: Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on April 1, 1963

The essay ‘Kant with Sade’ was to have served as a preface to ‘Philosophy in the Bedroom’.  It was published in the journal ‘Critique’ (CXCI, April 1963) as a review of the edition of Sade’s works for which it was intended: the 15-volume set brought out in 1963 by Éditions du Cercle du livre précieux.

1)     ‘Kant with Sade’ by Jacques Lacan.

Note : There are two published editions in French : a) in Écrits, Éditions du Seuil, 1966, p765-790 b) the 1971 pocket edition version of the Écrits.  Only William J. Richardson translates the original (1966).


Published in English

Note : See Richard G. Klein’s website, www.Freud2Lacan.com, Translations by James B. Swenson Jr (1989), William J. Richardson (2009) & Bruce Fink (2005) available www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan  /54 This now includes Dany Nobus’s notes on Bruce Fink’s translation.

a) translated by J. B. Swenson in ‘October’ MIT Press, Mass. 1989.

‘Kant with Sade’ translated James B. Swenson Jr, October, vol 51, p55-75, 1989. Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan /April 1963. Translated from the 1971 pocket edition version of the Écrits. 


See  www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan  /54, for translations by James B. Swenson, Jr, William J. Richardson & Bruce Fink 


Notes to James B. Svenson’s translation

Annotations to “Kant with Sade”
Author(s): James B. Swenson, Jr.
Source: October, Vol. 51 (Winter, 1989), pp. 76-104 Published by: The MIT Press

Available at www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan  /55

b) translated by William J. Richardson, published The Letter, Issue 42 (2009), pp.21-56Translated from the original 1966 publication of the Écrits. See www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan /54 for translations by James B. Swenson, Jr, William J. Richardson & Bruce Fink

c) translated by Bruce Fink with Héloïse Fink & Russell Grigg in: ‘Jacques Lacan: Écrits – The first complete edition in English’: W.W. Norton & Co: 2005: p645 onwards (Translated from the 1971 pocket edition version of the Écrits. ) : See www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan /54  

For Translator’s Notes to Fink’s translation of Kant avec Sade, see www.Freud2Lacan.com  /lacan  /56

2) Published in French, ‘Kant avec Sade’, in ‘Écrits’: Jacques Lacan: Paris Éditions du Seuil: 1966: from p765-790. See Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here.  There is also a 1971 pocket edition of the Écrits.

Cited by Jacques Lacan :

For citations in Seminar X see The Sadeian position in Jacques Lacan’s Seminar X & LacanianWorks posts by Julia Evans on 16th January 2012 or here 

Seminar XX 13th March 1972  pVIII p15 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

Luckily, there was subsequently an opportunity to become aware that the perversions, are, the perversions as one grasps them in neurosis, as one believes that one can map them out, are not at all that. Neurosis, is the dream rather than the perversion – I mean the neurosis. That neurotics have none of the characteristics of perverts, is certain; simply they dream about it, which is quite natural, because otherwise how could they reach their partner?

People then all the same began to meet perverts. These are the ones that Aristotle did not want to see at any price. People saw here that there is a subversion of behaviour based, as I might say, on a know- how which is altogether linked to a knowledge. And to a knowledge about the nature of things. A direct engaging, as I might say, of sexual behaviour with, it must be said, what is the truth of sexual behaviour, namely, its amorality. Put some soul, at the start, into it, if you wish: âmoralité.

There is a morality, this is the consequence, a morality of sexual behaviour which is under-stood in everything that is said about the Good. Only, by dint of saying it, of saying the Good, well then that ends up with Kant, where morality (la moralité) – two words this time – admits what it is. And this is what I believed I should put forward in a little article: Kant with Sade; morality admits that it is Sade. You can write Sade as you wish, either with a capital S, to pay homage to this poor idiot who gave us interminable writings about it, or with a small s in order to say that it is when all is said and done its own way of being agreeable, because this is an old French word which means that, or better still: çade, namely, that morality, it must all the same be clearly said that it ends up at the level of the ça, and that it doesn’t go very far. In other words that what is at stake, is that love is impossible, and that the sexual relationship is engulfed in non sense, which does not in any way diminish the interest that we may have for the other.

Because, it must be said, the question is the following: in what constitutes feminine enjoyment, in so far as it is not-all occupied by man, and even, I would say, that as such, it is not so at all, the question is to know precisely what is involved in its knowledge.

See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here & www.LacaninIreland.com


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check  www.LacanianWorksExchange.net. If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst 


Further texts:


Philosophy in the (Boudoir) Bedroom: 1795: Marquis de Sade or here


The ‘TRUTH’ of Kant’s moral law : Fantasy and the Limits of Enjoyment by Jean-Louis Gault on 1st October 2003 or here

Fantasy and the Limits of Enjoyment: ‘The Mother-Daughter Relationship’: Thread and Needle by Pierre Naveau on 8th January 2004 or here

The Sadeian position in Jacques Lacan’s Seminar X & LacanianWorks posts by Julia Evans on 16th January 2012 or here

Other related texts:

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here

If sadism is rooted in the fear of being human, what does it say about these cruel, unempathetic times we live in? by Julia Evans on 25th October 2013 or here

Comments on ‘A woman is authorised by herself’: An example of THE feminine: Margaret Thatcher? by Julia Evans on 16th April 2013 or here

Giles Fraser reinterpretes ‘Kant avec Sade’ around Occupy London at St Paul’s  by Julia Evans on 14th October 2012 or here

English context of Autism in relation to medical and other political formulations by Julia Evans on 30th June 2012 or here

What works – tackling out-of-limits destruction and violence by Julia Evans on 14th August 2011 or here

… the existence of a “completely ignored underclass” who have developed a “perverse morality”. by Julia Evans on 13th August 2011 or here

The two laws, limits and position: a new post by Julia Evans on 10th July 2011 or here

Melancholia, the Pain of Existence and Moral Cowardice : October1988 : Éric Laurent or here