Ethics and the World without Others

Eleanor Kaufman

in Deleuze and Ethics

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641178
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671731 | DOI:
Ethics and the World without Others

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Deleuze's 1967 essay ‘Coldness and Cruelty’ first appeared in the context of a work devoted to Leopold von Sacher–Masoch and featuring the latter's Venus in Furs, yet it nonetheless brings a particular, and particularly acute, attention to outlining the structure of sadism. Of course it might be argued that such attention is critical to an understanding of masochism, and to some extent this is the case; but if the two forms do not rely on each other for their definition, why is it that Deleuze keeps returning to the question of sadism in his exposition of masochism? This chapter argues that the structure of sadism, above and beyond that of masochism, is in strong resonance with a series of terms that traverse, in subterranean fashion, Deleuze's work from the late 1960s, and that all in their way point to a modality of ethics that is more nearly akin to an anethics, insofar as it eschews the categories of the human and even of life, focusing instead on the highest structural order that can be reached within a given system. Thus, Deleuze's concepts of sadism, the world without others, the third synthesis of time, and the death instinct all mirror each other and reveal not only an extreme formalism but an extreme state of stasis and non-becoming at the heart of Deleuze's early work.

Keywords: Deleuze; Coldness and Cruelty; sadism; masochism; ethics

Chapter.  6841 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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