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Cover for the book Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche

Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche

The Politics of Infinity Laurence D. Cooper
  • Copyright: 2007
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 376 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03330-3
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03331-0
“This is an excellent book—clear, lively, and interesting from beginning to end—and quite original in what it so persuasively shows: the deep agreement in these three philosophers’ understanding of the human soul.”
“Cooper has produced an ambitious and provocative book that investigates the central role of erotic longing in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche. With a keen eye for the psychological dimension of philosophy, Cooper reveals how the human desire to transcend finitude—whether understood as eros, the expansive soul, or the will to power—is critical for these thinkers’ conceptions of philosophy and prescriptions for politics.”

Human beings are restless souls, ever driven by an insistent inner force not only to have more but to be more—to be infinitely more. Various philosophers have emphasized this type of ceaseless striving in their accounts of humanity, as in Spinoza’s notion of conatus and Hobbes’s identification of “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power.” In this book, Laurence Cooper focuses his attention on three giants of the philosophic tradition for whom this inner force was a major preoccupation and something separate from and greater than the desire for self-preservation. Cooper’s overarching purpose is to illuminate the nature of this source of existential longing and discontent and its implications for political life. He concentrates especially on what these thinkers share in their understanding of this psychic power and how they view it ambivalently as the root not only of ambition, vigorous virtue, patriotism, and philosophy, but also of tyranny, imperialism, and varieties of fanaticism. But he is not neglectful of the differences among their interpretations of the phenomenon, either, and especially highlights these in the concluding chapter.

Laurence D. Cooper is Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton College. He is the author of Rousseau, Nature, and the Problem of the Good Life (Penn State, 1999).




Introduction: The Oneness of Desire—But Which One?

1. The Republic as Prologue

Part One: Platonic Eros—The Effectual Truth

2. First Truths

3. What Does Eros Want?

4. Love of Wisdom versus Love of the Wise: Eros in Action

Part Two: Rousseau and the Expansiveness of Being

5. Between Eros and Will to Power: Rousseau and “The Desire to Extend Our Being”

6. Emile, or On Philosophy?

Part Three: Nietzsche’s New Eternity

7. Nietzsche’s Politeia, I

8. Nietzsche’s Politeia, II

9. Will to Power versus Eros, or a Battle of Eternities

Epilogue: One or Many?



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