Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche

The Politics of Infinity

By (author) Laurence D. Cooper

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 November 2009

Length of book:

376 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271033310

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.

“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.”

—Leon H. Craig, University of Alberta