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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure Paperback – April 14, 1990


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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure + The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self + The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Required reading for those who cling to stereotyped ideas about our difference from the Greeks in terms of pagan license versus Christian austerity or their hedonism versus our anxiety."

-- Los Angeles Times Book Review

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reissue edition (April 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394751221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394751221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

One of the leading intellectuals of the twentieth century and the most prominent thinker in post-war France, Foucault's work influenced disciplines as diverse as history, sociology, philosophy, sociology and literary criticism.

Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French historian and philosopher associated with the structuralist and poststructuralist movements. He is often considered the most influential social theorist of the second half of the twentieth century, not only in philosophy but in a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Among his most notable books are Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish, and The History of Sexuality.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although it is not as theoretically courageous, The Use of Pleasure is tenfold more interesting and approachable than the first volume in this trilogy on the history of sexuality.
Foucault delves deep into the recesses of our occidental world by attempting to answer the question, "Why is it that sexuality has become morally problematic?" Why and when did we attribute a negativity to certain sexualities? And what does this imply about sexuality itself?
Foucault works with irresistible sources (e.g. Plato's Republic; Hippocrates' Ancient Medicine) in an effort to reconstruct the Hellenic approach to sexuality. The result: a clear and fascinating delineation of the similarities and differences between modern sexual consciousness and "pagan license".
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Foucault's continuation of his impressive History of Human Sexuality looks into the sexual mores and practices of the Ancient Greeks, and attempts to understand the development of sexuality as a moral problematic. Contrary to the conventional wisdom which posits a complete epistemic reversal from the Hellenic world to the Christian world, Foucault poses a more complex network of interconnections between the two paradigms, which lie in a valuation of asceticism. Although The Use of Pleasure is only a small piece of a very large story, it is an interesting development in the hermeneutics of sexuality.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Miller on July 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While a fascinating view into what it was like to be in the minority of free Greek men with a focus on the relation to and mastery of the self (within which sexuality is only a small part), it's difficult to maintain the tight perspective: we know that it's only free men, but what that statistically means pretty much goes without saying in the book. There's a whole lot of ancient Greek pre-science in here, and while it starts as an interesting view into what they thought, it quickly becomes tiresome. You can probably get most of the value from Foucault's research here from the interview at the end of Dreyfus & Rabinow's "Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics" -- Foucault's much more focused on what he found and has a clearly externalized perspective on ancient Greece than when he's recounting what was written down a couple of millennia ago. It might be overly terse, but I think it beats slogging though ancient discussions of moist and dry humors.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, and social theorist and activist; he wrote many books, such as Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, The Birth of the Clinic, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self, etc. Openly gay [see the James Miller biography, The Passion of Michel Foucault], he died of AIDS---the first “public figure” in France to die of the virus.

He wrote in the opening chapter of this 1984 book (by which time he knew that he was dying), “This series of studies is being published later than I had anticipated, and in a form that is altogether different. I will explain why. It was intended to be neither a history of sexual behaviors nor a history or representations, but a history of ‘sexuality’… I wanted first to dwell on that quite recent and banal notion of ‘sexuality’: to stand detached from it, bracketing its familiarity, in order to analyze the theoretical and practical context with which it has been associated.” (Pg.
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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure
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