During the 60s, at a time when many leading philosophers were showing an interest in Sade, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan also wrote an essay on the literary works of the libertine aristocrat D.A.F. de Sade, often called “The Divine Marquis”. That essay, entitled “Kant avec Sade”, is regularly cited but rarely discussed in any depth by philosophers and psychoanalysts, partly as a result of Lacan’s baroque style of writing, his sloppy formulations, and his suggestive language. However, in spite of this, Lacan’s text is worthwhile reading. The central idea is that Sade’s oeuvre reveals the truth of Kant’s moral philosophy. In his article, the author shows that this remarkable thesis can be understood in at least two ways. Moreover, it is also argued that Lacan’s thesis can be read in a reverse direction, although Lacan himself never says that explicitly. It will be shown in the third section that according to Lacan, Kant is the truth of Sade.
This article gives a rough sketch of psychoanalysis as part of modern culture (modernity) and as participating in the problematic of modern culture (modernity). It starts from the present day lack of interest in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is minimally defined by its concern for human experience, dividedness and conflict and for the maintenance of a lack. Present day culture can be described by a prevalence of instrumentalism, narcissism and the practice of a culture of immediacy. It can be interpreted in a one-sided way as an actualisation of modernity. Modernity is not characterized by instrumentality alone but also by the importance of the dimension of subjectivity (experience, conflict and lack). The actual relevance of psychoanalysis might be found in the way psychoanalysis reminds present day culture of its own one-sidedness in relation to modernity.