The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure Reviews

The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure

The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure

In this sequel to The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, the brilliantly original French thinker who died in 1984 gives an analysis of how the ancient Greeks perceived sexuality.

Throughout The Uses of Pleasure Foucault analyzes an irresistible array of ancient Greek texts on eroticism as he tries to answer basic questions: How in the West did sexual experience become a moral issue? And why were other appetites of the body, such as hunger, and collective concerns, such as civic duty, not subjected to the numberless rules and regulations and judgments that have defined, if not confined, sexual behavior?

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3 Comments so far »

  1. Steiner said,

    Wrote on November 14, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Good Use of Leisure, June 6, 2000
    By A Customer
    This review is from: The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure (Paperback)

    Although it is not as theoretically courageous, The Use of Pleasure is tenfold more interesting and approachable than the first volume in this trilogy on the history of sexuality.

    Foucault delves deep into the recesses of our occidental world by attempting to answer the question, “Why is it that sexuality has become morally problematic?” Why and when did we attribute a negativity to certain sexualities? And what does this imply about sexuality itself?

    Foucault works with irresistible sources (e.g. Plato’s Republic; Hippocrates’ Ancient Medicine) in an effort to reconstruct the Hellenic approach to sexuality. The result: a clear and fascinating delineation of the similarities and differences between modern sexual consciousness and “pagan license”.

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  2. Case Quarter said,

    Wrote on November 14, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Unconventional History, July 21, 2008
    By 
    Steiner (Philadelphia) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    This review is from: The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure (Paperback)

    Foucault’s continuation of his impressive History of Human Sexuality looks into the sexual mores and practices of the Ancient Greeks, and attempts to understand the development of sexuality as a moral problematic. Contrary to the conventional wisdom which posits a complete epistemic reversal from the Hellenic world to the Christian world, Foucault poses a more complex network of interconnections between the two paradigms, which lie in a valuation of asceticism. Although The Use of Pleasure is only a small piece of a very large story, it is an interesting development in the hermeneutics of sexuality.

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  3. Anonymous said,

    Wrote on November 14, 2013 @ 9:00 am

    6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    let’s hear it for the boy: a greek fable, July 24, 2009
    By 
    Case Quarter (CT USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure (Paperback)

    three quotations from the use of pleasure:

    1) the work that one performs on oneself, not only in order to bring one’s conduct into compliance with a given rule, but to attempt to transform oneself into the ethical subject of one’s behavior is ethical work. Pg 27

    2) an `aesthetics of existence’ is a way of life whose moral value does not depend either on one’s being in conformity with a code of behavior, or on an effort of purification, but on certain formal principles in the use of pleasures, in the way one distributed them, in the limits one observed, in the hierarchy one respected. through reason and the relation to truth that governed it, such a life was committed to the maintenance and reproduction of an ontological order; moreover, it took on the brilliance of a beauty that was revealed to those able to behold it or keep its memory present in mind. Pg 89

    3) the principle according to which sexual activity was meant to be regulated, the `mode of subjection’ was not defined by a universal legislation determining permitted and forbidden acts; but rather by an art that prescribed the modalities of a use that depended on different variables (need, time, status). Pg 91

    if a man could successfully regulate and master his behavior and, a modern word, passions, he was in a pretty good position to maintain a functioning household of which included a wife, servants and children. and success with his household indicated he was fit to govern. the man, since time immemorial went out and brought home the bacon and the wife stayed home doing housework until the husband arrived with the bacon which she would prepare, and later, if the time was right, make ready for sexual duties in hope that sons would be born who would continue the bloodline. girls were pretty much forgotten. probably they observed their mothers as they busied about the house ordering servants as to chores done until someone wanted to marry them and they left the house of the father for the house of a husband who instructed her in the ways of maintaining his household. boys, on the other hand, had education to look forward to, and the free men, the professional class, the teachers, physicians, philosophers, many of whom found the boys beautiful instead of the stinky booger eaters the girls perceived them as being. in ancient greece, the literature informs us, there was the object of desire, the erotic object of desire, and for many free men that object was a boy, a relationship not of a legal matter but a problematic concern of certain philosophers, in particular Socrates and his biographers, plato and xenophon.

    there was an entire erotics, foucault tells us, games of love, courtships, devised by those desirous men surrounding the boys, not much different than the mass marketing campaign based on the word and undefined concept `sexy’ (just because a jacket is sexy does not mean the jacket or the wearer wants to engage in sexual activity) in the late 20th century. nor either were the boys supposed to take the erotic pressure seriously, they were, after all, out in the world of men to get an education; however, the boys did not know they were not to take the presents, the stalking, the fawning, the invitations, seriously, and if they did, well, that was alright if they responded with the proper decorum, and if their lovers were not compromising the boy’s honor and, as men, their own honor. so the male philosophers agreed, the boys are beautiful; however, you may want to consider that more beautiful than the bodies of boys are the souls of boys, and if you really want to be master of yourselves you should cultivate a desire for beauty, beauty in its highest nature, the soul, instead of beauty of the body for the sake of brief pleasures, for there is true love.

    now on to volume 3.

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