In his book Lust, the philosopher Simon Blackburn argues that traditionally we lump sex and lust together, giving both a bad name they do not deserve. For Blackburn, lust need not be excessive, illicit or dehumanizing: Lust can be a virtue and not a vice.
Lust, when properly understood and performed, is, in the words of David Hume, “useful or agreeable to the personal himself and to others.” Lust is about desire that is felt. Lust is about the pursuit of sexual ecstasy.
But, but, but, says Blackburn, the full pleasure of sexual activity requires the presence of another-- a partner, a fellow traveler. There must always be an object of lust who is not treated as other, but rather as someone you “desire to please” as much as you “desire to be pleased.”
Citing Thomas Hobbes, Blackburn argues that lust is about two drives or two appetites together: To please < --- > To be pleased. “I desire you, and I desire your desire for me… A pleases B, B is pleased by what A is doing and A is pleased at B’s pleasure.” And so on, and so on, and so on.
For Blackburn, true lust must be more than one-sided. Lust is about communion, harmony and completion.
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