This article explores the problematic relation between pleasure and morality in German thought, from the Enlightenment aesthetics of the eighteenth century through to early twentieth-century psychoanalysis. Specifically, by focusing on the status and function of pleasure in the moral analyses of Kant, the post-Kantians Schiller and Schopenhauer, then Nietzsche and finally Freud, it argues for a shift in emphasis, over this period, from the moral evaluation of pleasure to a recognition of the pleasurable value of morality. Along the way, it traces the German reception of the Discourse on the Nature of Pleasure and Pain (1773-81) by the Milanese philosopher and economist Pietro Verri.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009

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