Ming the Mechanic:
Lust as a virtue

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Lust as a virtue2004-01-23 07:31
picture by Flemming Funch

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.

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."
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.

More from Blackburn here, here and here.

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23 Jan 2004 @ 09:48 by martha : praise to lust
"Lust is one of the seven deadly sins first identified by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century"
There is the problem right there... A great teacher's philosophy corrupted and twisted for a popes own good and with no consideration for the natural joy of life. Lust shared with one you love is heaven. Obviously Pope Gregory was completely unconscious on such joy...or maybe filled with guilt for enjoying lust too much?  

23 Jan 2004 @ 10:20 by ming : Control
Yeah, I didn't like the control part either. How to channel it might be a better way of looking at it.

And, Martha, thanks for mentioning this in the first place.  

24 Jan 2004 @ 07:26 by ming : Authoritative Lust
Heheh, yeah, it is a little silly, of course, that it suddenly carries some weight because a distinguished professor at Cambridge University says something about it, using many big words. But, hey, sometimes that's what it takes.  

24 Jan 2004 @ 15:55 by sharie : Distinguishing lust, fornication & love
Patriarchs of the Bible bedded many women (Abraham, Jacob, King David, King Solomon...), refering to them as "wives", or (according to their conventions) household servants could be exploited if the wife could not conceive a child. In the case of King Solomon, he was able to keep hundreds of concubines in his harem, because he could afford to provide for their food and housing. This was not considered Fornication, or an unholy union. King Solomon was considered a good and wise man.

Fornication, the Biblical taboo, is the sexual (lusty) exploitation of another human being while disregarding their health, happiness, and well-being.

In modern times, "the one-night stand", "the booty call", "sleeping around", "hookin' up" and other terms of callousness, are what the bible referred to as "fornication".

Fornication is exploiting someone's body without caring for their physical or emotional well-being.

If you lust after someone's body, and don't give a damn about their mental or emotional or physical well-being... then that's whatcha call a "deadly sin".

If you lust after someone, and also care for their health, happiness, and well-being, then that lust is healthy, and is not a deadly sin.  

24 Jan 2004 @ 20:14 by ming : Distinctions
Yeah, the problem is when there's a split. Personally I have a hard time understanding how one can lust after somebody without caring about their health, happiness and well-being, even though I can see that it obviously works like that for some people. Probably because they were thoroughly conditioned in the first place into believing those things were separate and had nothing to do with each other. Whereas, really, lust is one of nature's ways of indicating that you do care about something or someone.

Anyway, I don't think it has anything inherently to do with the duration of the relation, whether it is a one-night stand or a 20-year stand. You might spend a night caring a whole lot about somebody's happiness and body, and both remember it fondly for the rest of your lives, even if you never see each other again. Life happens in the moment. And it happens more fully if it isn't split too much into unnatural categories. The point is whether the people involved are happy with what happens, not whether it fits into some set of rules.  

26 Jan 2004 @ 13:08 by sharie : Right, when everyone is happy & healthy
Unfortunately, because we live in an unhealthy society, most people are unhealthy... mentally and emotionally unhealthy in particular... exploitive, callous, hurtful... things like that.  

27 Jan 2004 @ 19:50 by sharie : Our water is poisoned, our air polluted
The economic system - founded on the modern theories of economics - results in the destruction of our life-support system (our Mother Earth).

This, in my view, is the beginning of the downfall of our collective mental and emotional health.

Our political system, legal system, criminal rehabilitation system, our social policies, our mental health system...

global corporations...

are all unhealthy.

But in your mind, Natalie, those who are exploitative and callous are in the minority?

I have a lot of great friends, but only because I've learned to use discretion in who I allow into my personal life. Most people have a learned patterned of mutual sabotage.

The divorce rate is at 60% now... that's not my idea of healthy relationships.

And how many are staying married just for the money?

The mainstream culture is dying, and unfortunately, *most* people are being sucked into that sewer.


Because a handful of people *own* and control our food supply, our seeds, our energy sources, our mass media, the chemical, pharmaceutical, military, and weapons industries. And there's no indication that their intentions are for our health and well-being. On the contrary, their intention seems to be to rake in as much our of labor and money into their own pockets, regardless of how it destroys our health or that of our planet.

Did you know our world's drinking water supply has dwindled about 40% in the past 40 years? And why... toxic industries mostly.

Did you know our world's ocean ecology has dwindled over 50% in the past 50 years?

This is not indicators of a healthy system. People will not be healthy in an unhealthy environment. It's just not possible.

Many lethal, poisonous, toxic substances are not only manufactured, but sold to consumers for their consumption. And the mass population is, for the most part, completely unaware of how destructive these products are.

When they are informed, they often shrug as if their life has no meaning or value, and it seems, it's not important to them to live a healthy life, or to make healthy choices.

For example, chemically-altered nicotine creates addictive slaves of the smokers, while the pesticide-laced tobacco kills 10,000 people everyday.

The tobacco company executives conspired to intentionally alter the chemical structure of the nicotine to make it more addictive, so the executives could essentially *drug* the smokers into being their slaves... so the smokers buy the cigarettes until their dying day... making the tobacco company executive rich, rich, rich.

This came out in the Florida courts, so it is public knowledge, but who cares?

If I were the Federal Prosecutor, there's a few hundred people I'd have sitting in prison right now, with their assets seized and used to fund the medical expenses and children orphaned by lung cancer.

Conspiracy to commit murder is illegal. It is also illegal to drug people into being your slave.

And then there's the aspartame, and the processed foods, and depleted uranium being dumped not only on our teenage soldiers, but in our oceans...

for these reasons, and many, many others... we are an unhealthy lot.

Most relationships are not supportive, encouraging, and mutually-beneficial.

And for this reason, I say "most people are mentally and emotionally unhealthy".

We live in an unhealthy culture that is destroying us, although I do enjoy looking at it from your perspective, Natalie. It is certainly much more pleasant to not consider the socio-economic circumstances of *most* people.  

29 Jan 2004 @ 12:49 by sharie : Hi Natalie, yep there's lots of problems
But if the world were perfect, there wouldn't be anything for me to do.

I, too, have been working on creating a wonderful new world, that's what this space here at new civilization network is all about. I've covered topics from science, environment, spirituality, mind/body health, creativity, politics, social policies, criminal rehabilitation, the legal system, social hierarchy and many other subjects on my newslog.

From all that I've researched and written about, it appears that fixing the existing problems will be far more time-consuming than simply creating a whole new social culture, so this the approach I've chosen to take.

I started with the questions, "What's real? Who are we? And what are we capable of? What are our potentials? What do we choose to be? And what do we need to be all that we can be?"

I've been piecing this whole thing together over the past few decades, tossing out our economic system, western medicine, the consumer mentality, and virtually everything else about this mainstream culture.

I'd been studying and designing innovative architecture - earth friendly and energy efficient - with atriums... and designing ornamental edible gardens, I've really been working at all of this.

(info deleted)... [we're working on] a prototype residential community with a gift economy, but also a natural health and healing resort that will be open to the public where "old world currency" is accepted. And I am so happy with the progress.

As for "consensual sex"... I look at it this way, if a person is mentally incompetent to give consent to sex... for example, under age, or drunk, or in therapy (in this case, the patient is considered incompetent to give consent to have sex with a therapist, and if the therapist does have sex with a patient, it is - in most states - considered sexual assault)...

Take this logic a step further. If a person is having unprotected sex (when they're not intending to have a baby or to come down with a sexually-transmitted disease), then they are, in my view, demonstrating that they are mentally incompetent to foresee the consequences of their actions, and therefore they are mentally incompetent to give consent to sex.

I wish this would discussed at length as so many young women are getting pregnant, and the public ends up funding the medical and living expenses for millions of children because of it.

Consenting to have sex is not as black and white as people want to think it is.

Many men and women "consent" to have sex when what they're really consenting to is a "relationship". They think "sex" means "relationship" and then when they're dumped, they say they did not "consent" to be used.

Meanwhile, their sex partner for the night thought it was a mutual "just for fun" interlude.

There is so much about consentual sex that is not discussed. Essentially it is because we - most of us - are mentally and emotionally and psychologically oppressed and unaware of our own feelings, and that of others.

How can we give consent to something when we are not "informed" of the consequences.

"Informed Consent" is obligatory before a medical procedures, and we ought to consider the benefits of "informed consent" before sex... since we can die from it, and find ourselves parenting for the rest of our lives.

The consequences are immense, and most people have no clue of the expense and the costs (not only financially but emotionally)... because of this most of us are not mentally competent to give "informed" consent. This is a topic that needs so much more dialog, and we're paying the price for our failure to fully discuss the issues (this includes over-population).

I believe in liberation and freedom, sensuality, eroticism, and everything else wonderful about life, but let us use our brilliance to make the best life possible, and not be burdened by our ignorance.  

31 Jan 2004 @ 12:37 by sharie : flowers are blooming, fruit is ripening
I'm creating what feels right for me, and I would love to see others walking away from the mainstream (western medicine, the Federal Reserve currency, boxed-in architecture, and so on) so they can create their dreams.

I wish everyone health, happiness... and everything wonderful.  

13 Aug 2004 @ 21:50 by Quantum Mechanic at Large @ : Lust is perfect
Well Lust is a primal fuction of nature, and quite perfectly constructed by it for it, its installed brainware in consciousneses all over the planet, it cant hardley be wrong. The world would indeed be quite boring with out it ... it might not even be here with out it.  

20 Nov 2004 @ 18:19 by Keith @ : Pope Gregory's definition of lust
Nowhere in this article or the ensuing thread do I see any discussion of what Pope Gregory meant by "Lust" when he included it in the list of 7 deadly sins. If lust is "a healthy desire for sexual expression of love with a committed partner" (as seems to be the working definition of many posters to this thread, based on the content of their messages) then we can probably get wide-spread agreement that lust is, in fact, a good thing. If lust means "strong physical desire to have sex with somebody, without associated feelings of love or affection", is that a good thing? Sometimes the question is more important than the answer.  

21 Nov 2004 @ 18:34 by ming : Lust
You're quite right. I'd assume he'd be talking about a healthy desire for sexual expression of love. But words are tricky, as everybody don't understand the same thing from them.  

17 Aug 2006 @ 04:22 by fergen @ : Counter argument
Now where here is explained how lustr is a virtue. No ethic or meta-ethics are present here. All i see is "its natural".

Genocide is natural to huamns and chimpanzzes.
Selfishness is natural
Sadism is natural

need i go on?

Natural has nothing to do with ethics, is-ought gap.

Besides everything is natural anyway.  

Other stories in
2011-11-08 03:20: Do what you do
2007-11-09 00:55: The ends justify the means
2007-09-19 00:36: Fractal brains
2007-06-06 00:13: Ten incredible things we get for free
2007-03-26 21:12: Ken Wilber stops his brain waves
2007-03-21 14:45: Free Thought the simplicity of life
2007-03-09 23:46: The ends justify the means
2007-01-29 21:44: Free will in a ten-dimensional universe
2007-01-24 20:42: Assuming Somebody Else's Viewpoint
2007-01-16 16:28: Free Will

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