Volume 62, Issue 3, Summer 2018
Philippe Van Haute
Why Kant Never Mentioned Paedophilia
A Foucaultian Hypothesis
Why does Kant, who extensively wrote on sexual life in all its diversity, never mention paedophilia? I elaborate a hypothesis on the basis of the work of Foucault and Hacking: paedophilia as a “possibility of personhood” (Hacking) only came into being at the end of the nineteenth century. This “possibility” is linked to the introduction of a “deployment of sexuality” over and against a “deployment of alliance.” It is only at the very moment that sexuality starts being conceived in terms of feelings, fantasies, and capacities that can be different in adults and children that propositions on paedophilia become intelligible. This was not yet the case in Kant’s day. I illustrate the distinction between these two “deployments” further through analysis of the approach of the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. Finally, I state that this debate should not be reduced to epistemology and that Foucault’s “deployments” or Hacking’s “possibilities of personhood” are rooted in the material conditions of our existence.