Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is lust really a deadly sin?

My column last week at Spot-on took on Simon Blackburn's Lust.

Does the "page 69 test" work for Lust?

As it happens, page 69 is the start of Chapter Seven, "What Nature Intended."
We pause to reflect here on the argument that sex is for procreation, and hence that any sexual activity or desire that does not have reproduction as its aim is immoral. Here, philosophy can come to the rescue. The dry way of doing it would be through teasing out various different senses of "natural," and then worrying quite how the move works from what is there, in nature, and what ought to be there, in human activities. The quick way of realizing that something must be wrong is through humor.

The novelist and playwright Michael Frayn, himself trained in philosophy in Cambridge, nicely parodied the argument some years ago when the Roman Catholic Church was debating the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which ended up reaffirming the....
And that's where the page ends. (If you must know, the end of that last sentence is "...opposition to contraception.")

--Marshal Zeringue