Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Desire has always been a fundamental concern for political thought. Plato links desire to the appetitive part of the soul, which the rational and spiritual parts control to constitute the just man and city. Augustine associates it with the flesh, which is responsible for sin and corruption and which justifies even tyrannical political order on Earth. Thomas Hobbes and Niccolò Machiavelli counsel rulers to know men's passions, both what they desire and what they detest. Sigmund Freud maintains that civilization must repress desires and sublimate their corresponding instinctual energies into activities such as labor, which results in civilization's many discontents. Although all these thinkers treat desire as a dangerous excess that poses a political problem of containment, others value it positively. Utilitarianism, for example, holds a normative commitment to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, linking these to the fulfillment of desire. John Stuart Mill's utilitarian ethical theory asserts that the ...