A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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Nietzsche does indeed perform a "transmutation of all values", but it is not in order to confer a greater value on evil.
In fact, it is more a question of going beyond this good/evil opposition, of rising "beyond good and evil". He denies these two concepts any meaning other than that of a symptom. Which symptom? That of a certain physiological constitution. For Nietzsche, the rejection of morality is not a matter of choosing evil over good; in fact, anyone who makes such a choice remains a prisoner of the good/evil opposition established by morality. He remains a prisoner of the moral conceptual framework.
The superhuman is precisely he who goes beyond this framework, who has not chosen one of the two branches of the moral alternative, but who is "elsewhere"; he is not "immoral", but "a-moral".

Sade seems much closer to the immoral as we seek to understand it. The golden lines that make up Sade's works, the poisonous seduction that emanates from Philosophy in the bedroom, for example, have long led to his works being hidden in the back of library shelves. Here, we seem to be closest to the axiological position that attributes supreme value to evil. However, Sade, no doubt maliciously, prefers to support the opposite thesis: if Sade does praise destruction and cruelty, it is not to praise crime, but to deny that they constitute a crime: Destruction being one of the chief laws of Nature, nothing that destroys can be criminal; how might an action which so well serves Nature ever be outrageous to her? 1.

In his rhetorical trickery, Sade does not seem to be questioning the value of the concept of virtue, but simply the nature of its content: it is cruelty, not pity, that is the true virtue: Cruelty, very far from being a vice, is the first sentiment Nature injects in us all. Cruelty is simply the energy in a man civilization has not yet altogether corrupted: therefore it is a virtue, not a vice 2.

Further on, it is by condemning, like a Father of the Church, the pride of man that he concludes that murder is legitimate! Indeed, Tis our pride prompts us to elevate murder into crime. Esteeming ourselves the foremost of the universe's creatures, we have stupidly imagined that every hurt this sublime creature endures must perforce be an enormity; we have believed Nature would perish should our marvelous species chance to be blotted out of existence 3.

Moreover, Sade retains the fundamental scheme of morality in the sense that he bows to a principle that legitimises acts, namely Nature rather than God. Thus, for example, Sade observes that Women are not made for one single man; 'tis for men at large Nature created them, and he urges them as follows: Listening only to this sacred voice, let them surrender themselves, indifferently, to all who want them 4.

Evil is not, therefore, its own legitimation, i.e. it is not loved in and for itself; it is nature that remains the principle that legitimises evil, where God legitimised good. As a result, its legitimisation makes it a good and not an evil. Above all, it is no longer evil that is loved in and for itself, it is nature that is loved and targeted through it: in these lines, Sade does not do evil because it is evil, but because it is natural.

Finally, far from affirming the value of evil, Sade seems to make it disappear, like the classical theodicies. Eugénie, for example, exclaims in response to Dolmancé's defence of incest: Oh! My divine teachers, I see full well that, according to your doctrine, there are very few crimes in the world, and that we may peacefully follow the bent of all our desires, however singular they may appear to fools 5.
To which Dolmancé replies: There is crime in nothing, dear girl, regardless of what it be: the most monstrous of deeds has, does it not, an auspicious aspect? […] Well, as of this moment, it loses every aspect of crime; for, in order that what serves one by harming another be a crime, one should first have to demonstrate that the injured person is more important, more precious to Nature than the person who performs the injury and serves her; now, all individuals being of uniform importance in her eyes, 'tis impossible that she have a predilection for some one among them; hence, the deed that serves one person by causing suffering to another is of perfect indifference to Nature 6.

Sade therefore seems to deny the existence of evil rather than valorise it. The behaviour that is valued (cruelty, debauchery, etc.) is not evil or vice, but virtue properly understood.

However, we have to ask ourselves whether we should take Sade seriously as a thinker, and dissert seriously on texts that were perhaps written precisely to mock serious dissertations on morality. One should not take for a consistent doctrine what is perhaps only irony.

On the other hand, the ideas mentioned here are specific to Philosophy in the bedroom. Elsewhere, particularly in The 120 Days of Sodom, the main characters enjoy evil as evil, as a recognised vice and not as a well-understood virtue. It is the pleasure derived from evil that is the supreme value: [These principles] have made me understand the emptiness and nullity of virtue; I hate virtue, and never will I be seen resorting to it. They have persuaded me that through vice alone is man capable of experiencing this moral and physical vibration which is the source of the most delicious voluptuousness; so I give myself over to vice 7.
It should be noted, however, that here again, nature is a legitimising principle: These instincts were given me by Nature, and it would be to irritate her were I to resist them; if she gave me bad ones, that is because they were necessary to her designs 8.

In conclusion, it should be noted here again that extreme axiological positions are hard to find in literature or philosophy. The same is true of the love of evil for its own sake, of "radical evil", as it is of nihilism or eclecticism. This is not to discredit these doctrines, but to underline their literally extraordinary character.

1. Philosophy in the bedroom, p. 433
2. Ibid., p.449
3. Ibid., p.434
4. Ibid., p. 481
5. Ibid., p. 433
6. Ibid., p.478
7. The 120 Days of Sodom, p.26
8. Ibid., p.27