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The Ploy of InstinctVictorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance$
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Kathleen Frederickson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262519

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262519.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Ploy of Instinct

Kathleen Frederickson

Fordham University Press

Instinct has a longer history than the comparatively modern category “sexuality”, having been first elaborated in antiquity as the binary twin to reason. Looking at instinct’s relationship to sexuality thus allows this book to modify the domain of analysis for sexual biopolitics and to elaborate an analysis of how the genealogies and methods of an older natural philosophy constitute sexuality at the turn of the twentieth century. Instinct’s promise of an out to excessively disciplined subjectivity is a large part of what generates its somewhat incongruous appeal to liberal cognition. As a result, once instinct is attached to idiosyncrasy and pleasure, it can seem well suited to act as paradoxical locus of individual autonomy, outside of disciplinary control.

Keywords:   Foucault, Sexuality, Liberalism, Queer theory, Evolution, Natural philosophy, Science, Disciplinarity

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