| 11 May 2004 @ 16:11, by ming|
From Ming the Mechanic: A respected British philosopher and university professor is speaking up for the virtues of lust. From "Should Lust Really Be a Sin?":
Lust is one of the seven deadly sins first identified by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. He nailed them all: Lust, anger, envy, gluttony, sloth, pride, and greed. It's a cornucopia of bad living.
I agree with him. One of the most screwed up qualities the world is the prevalence of a perverted view of lust and sex and bodily pleasures. Perverted in the sense that what is perfectly natural, healthy and useful gets turned into something dirty, forbidden and ungodly. Really it is quite simple from nature's hand. The activities that further survival tend towards being pleasurable. If feels good to drink when you're thirsty. Good food tastes good. Poisoned food usually doesn't. It feels good to love somebody. It is good to get one's juices flowing. Sex is a good thing. That should be the baseline. Of course there are lots of things one can screw up about it, just like one can eat too much of the wrong thing. Doesn't mean that eating is basically bad. Same with lust. It makes things happen, motivates, makes life worth living.
But hold on! A leading philosopher at Britain's Cambridge University says lust has been wrongly branded as a vice and should be "reclaimed for humanity" as the life-affirming virtue that it is.
Professor Simon Blackburn told the London Sunday Times that lust has gotten a bad name from bad ideology that has hindered its "freedom of flow." His quest is to rescue lust, arguing it has been wrongly condemned for centuries. And he has a prestigious backer: The Oxford University Press, which will publish Blackburn's project on the modern relevance of the seven deadly sins, including lust.
Blackburn told the Times that he wants to save lust "from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor, and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue."
How does he plan to do this? He defines lust as "the enthusiastic desire for sexual activity and its pleasures for its own sake." But if lust is reciprocated, that leads to pleasure and "best flourishes when unencumbered by bad philosophy and ideology...which prevent its freedom of flow."
Here is Blackburn's logic at work: Thirst is not considered sin, nor is it criticized. But thirst can lead to drunkenness. In the same way, lust should not be condemned just because it can go unchecked.
"The important thing is that generally anything that gives pleasure has a presumption in its favor," Blackburn explained to the Times. "The question is how we control it."
More from Blackburn here, here and here.