Synopses & Reviews
Lust, says Simon Blackburn, is furtive, headlong, always sizing up opportunities. It is a trail of clothing in the hallway, the trashy cousin of love. But be that as it may, the aim of this delightful book is to rescue 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."
Blackburn, author of such popular philosophy books as Think and Being Good, here offers a sharp-edged probe into the heart of lust, blending together insight from some of the world's greatest thinkers on sex, human nature, and our common cultural foibles. Blackburn takes a wide ranging, historical approach, discussing lust as viewed by Aristophanes and Plato, lust in the light of the Stoic mistrust of emotion, and the Christian fear of the flesh that catapulted lust to the level of deadly sin. He describes how philosophical pessimists like Schopenhauer and Sartre contributed to our thinking about lust and explores the false starts in understanding lust represented by Freud, Kinsey, and modern "evolutionary psychology."
But most important, Blackburn reminds us that lust is also life-affirming, invigorating, fun. He points to the work of David Hume (Blackburn's favorite philosopher) who saw lust not only as a sensual delight but also "a joy of the mind." Written by one of the most eminent living philosophers, attractively illustrated and colourfully packaged, Lust is a book that anyone would lust over.
"There's more sense here than sensuality, though ultimately [Blackburn] does grant that lust aims simply at 'a good lay.' A thoughtfully burnished essay on a titillating topic." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] witty writer and a canny reader, particularly adept at pitting temporally disparate thinkers against each other....This book is not so much a defense of sexual desire as a comprehensive excuse for it..." Publishers Weekly
"One of the most eminent living philosophers, Blackburn amuses us with his provocative defense of lust....[H]ighly recommended." Library Journal
The author of popular philosophy books Think and Being Good here probes the heart of lust, blending insight from some of the world's greatest thinkers on sex, human nature, and our common cultural foibles.
About the Author
Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1990 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and the best-selling Think and Being Good, among other books.
Table of Contents
Ch. 1 Desire 13
Ch. 2 Excess 21
Ch. 3 Two Problems from Plato 29
Ch. 4 Stiff Upper Lips 41
Ch. 5 The Christian Panic 49
Ch. 6 The Legacy 65
Ch. 7 What Nature Intended 69
Ch. 8 Some Consequences 73
Ch. 9 Shakespeare versus Dorothy Parker 79
Ch. 10 Hobbesian Unity 87
Ch. 11 Disasters 93
Ch. 12 Substitutions 103
Ch. 13 Evolution and Desire 111
Ch. 14 Overcoming Pessimism 127
Ch. 15 Farewell 133