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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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Reading Like an Animal

Reading Like an Animal

(p.27) One Reading Like an Animal
The Ploy of Instinct

Kathleen Frederickson

Fordham University Press

Instinct resolves a contradiction in the liberal theorization of desire-based choice. Instinctive individuals supposedly could not create or manage instinct; as a result, they could not contract their instincts away. In consequence, instinct helped ensure a germ of inalienable self-possession. Because of this kind of characterization, instinct winds up being helpful for imagining how and when people act in the face of a profusion of potentially stimulating objects. This chapter tackles this problem by looking at the late-nineteenth century production and regulation of obscenity. The model of acontextual reading presupposed in and about pornography depends upon the theorization of instinct in evolutionary psychology, in which instinct also acts immediately, forcefully and unavoidably without paying attention to setting or context.

Keywords:   Pornography, Contract theory, Association Psychology, Liberalism, Darwinism, Obscenity Legislation

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