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The Equivocation of ReasonKleist Reading Kant$
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James Phillips

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804755870

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804755870.001.0001

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Penthesilea and the Law Before Oedipus

Penthesilea and the Law Before Oedipus

Chapter:
(p.26) One Penthesilea and the Law Before Oedipus
Source:
The Equivocation of Reason
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804755870.003.0002

This chapter argues that Kantian Law is philosophically prior rather than an encryption of the Oedipus complex. Its priority is not the fictional priority of that which has abstracted from the biological and psychological desires of the organism. The claim for the priority of the Law rests on Kant's definition of desire. Kantian Law originates in a domain that preexists oedipalization. This is also the domain of Kleist's Penthesilea. The chapter presents a reading of Kantian ethics in conjunction with Kleist's pre-classical tragedy to demonstrate that more is involved here than a play upon Freud's classicist terminology.

Keywords:   Kantian Law, Oedipus complex, Heinrich von Kleist, Kantian ethics, moral act, desire

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