Sex has received little attention in the history of western philosophy, and what it did receive was not good: Plato denigrated it, arguing that it should lead to something higher or better PhaedrusSymposiumAristotle barely mentioned it, and Christian philosophers condemned it: Augustine argued that its pleasures are dangerous in mastering us, and allowed sex only for procreation City of Godbk 14; On Marriage and Concupiscencewhile Aquinas confined its permissibility to conjugal, procreative acts Summa Wicked straight sex chap focus gentiles III.
The Marquis de Sade a philosopher of sorts went to the opposite extreme, celebrating all types of sexual acts, including rape ; ; Only during contemporary times do philosophers, beginning with Bertrand Russell and including Sigmund Freudthink of sex as generally good see Soble b and Sex raises fascinating issues. Rooted in our biology, pervaded by our intentionality, and normally directed at other human beings, sexual desire is complex and not confined to specific mating seasons.
Its pleasures are powerful and have ruined many lives. Men and women seem to exhibit, desire, and experience sex differently e. II; Margolisesp.
Why this is so, is debatable Soble Four broad lines of thought are prominent regarding sexual desire: Wicked straight sex chap focus discuss 4 in the third section. Definitions of sexual desire in terms of sexual pleasure seem to understand sexual desire as basically an appetite.
The second definition avoids the conceptual involvement of another person, understanding sexual desire instead as desire for sexual pleasures, period. These views have in common the idea that sexual desire is desire for brute bodily pleasures, possibly implying that sexual desire is merely a biological appetite. If so, they face the objection that they mischaracterize the nature of sexual desire, which should instead be understood as intentional through and through Morgan b.
So whenever X sexually desires someone or something, X does so under a description: X desires Y because something about Y appeals to X. On the intentional view, sexual desire is no mere appetite but thoroughly infused with meaning. On one version, Wicked straight sex chap focus desire involves multiple levels of awareness: On another version, sexual desire should be directed to love Scruton Both these variations might raise doubts, however, because they layer a normative view of sexual desire, dictating its aim e.
Other such views burden sexual desire with too much inter-personality Russon Is the pleasure view of sexual desire committed to understanding sexual desire as mere appetite? The intentional view is plausible in that sexual desire can be quite complex and that its complexity is not Wicked straight sex chap focus well or at all by the pleasure view, given that human mentality infuses our most basic urges and appetites. But whether the intentional view is at odds with the pleasure view depends on our goals.
Given that definitions are not usually meant to convey the complexity of what they define, we should not expect a definition of sexual desire to be a full-blown theory sexual desire, while agreeing that it is a complex phenomenon.
This does not mean that the pleasure view of sexual desire is correct, only that its aim or strategy need not be misguided. Indeed, depending on how it is stated it might be wrong.
For example, if the pleasure view conceptually ties sexual desire to sexual pleasure obtained through the touch of another personit would be dualistic and might implausibly render many sexual desires as nonsexual, such as some masturbatory desires, voyeurism, and exhibitionism. Even a non-dualistic pleasure view might face difficulties stemming from understanding desire in terms of what it seeks sexual pleasure.
But there might be additional problems.
First, not all sexual desires are for sexual pleasure: Second, our sexual partners would in principle be dispensable if there are other ways to attain the pleasure. This objection is not moral—that we use our sexual partners as mere instruments—but ontological: Since this is not true, sexual desire is Wicked straight sex chap focus solely for sexual pleasure Jacobsen Because this state is enjoyable, we often induce Wicked straight sex chap focus in ourselves: This allows the feature-based view to avoid being confined to the false binary of my desire for someone being either sexual or not, a problem that the object-based approach might face.
The feature-based view, however, might pass the buck: The objections to the object-based views merit scrutiny. First, even if the goal of sexual desire is sexual pleasure, unless we assume that sexual pleasure is uniform across different contexts an assumption with which the feature-based view saddles the object-based oneone might not be indifferent to how the pleasure is produced.
Second, although the couple in the example want to have sex from procreative motives, this might not show that their sexual desire if it exists in this case is not for pleasure.