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Lusting After a Haircut

Simon Blackburn writes an impassioned defense of Lust. His contention seems reasonable enough: the criticisms of lust have not been for what lust is, but for what it prevents (by blocking out spiritual concerns), but who it is about (marital fidelity), and by its tendency to become self-justifying. Actually though, as he admits, lust is a positive when two people reciprocate their lustful feelings. What he doesn’t address is: 1)is unreciprocated lust (voyeurism, prostitution) morally defensible? and 2)is lust self-limiting? and 3)does bachelordom imply freedom to lust after every young woman under the sun and marriage imply the freedom to lust over only one? (See my recent Britney Spears post).

Perhaps a more interesting question would be why has lust (sexual lust) succeeded as an evolutionary strategy (especially when it consumes substantial time and energy of people in the teens and twenties)? Surely, sex is necessary for the propagation of the species, but lust is not; lust is a disruptive social effect with sometimes dangerous consequences. Even if the orgasm is a product of eons of natural selection, that doesn’t necessarily explain why lust had to exist also. One gets a haircut when one’s hair is becoming long. One doesn’t lust after a haircut or even over the experience of getting one’s hair cut. One gets a haircut when the time is right. Lust then is more than simply fulfilling a biological need; it has a spiritual dimension as well.

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