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Lust: The Seven Deadly Sins (New York Public Library Lectures in Humanities) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195162004
ISBN-10: 0195162005
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Public Library Lectures in Humanities
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195162005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195162004
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.7 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By ewomack VINE VOICE on April 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lust is a topic about which it is very easy to accuse someone of having had too much to think. Being an inherently and inevitably illogical and rationally evasive subject, it provides mounds of frustration for intellectuals and psychologsts, who, more often than not, seem to be helplessly pounding on the head of a gargantuan behemoth. Lust's reputation, both historic and current, does not help. There is a long tradition in the West of rigid control, of not giving in and becoming a slobbering porn shop denizen. In this sense, lust has become another bad habit, like smoking or gambling, and the term "sexual addiction", with its implied hopes of convalescence, has entered the public discourse. Lust thus has been put on the naughty shelf with the nudie mags and skin flicks. To some extent, because of the inevitable correlations, sex has been put there as well, and, along with religion and politics, it has become the third most important thing that one should not discuss with others in public. Of course we do talk about it nonetheless, because lust has a power to overcome both morality and propriety. Two thousand years of Christian shame have not subverted its powers. Legal restrictions and sodomy laws seem like squealing moralzing rodents next to its lumbering bulk. The West seems incapable of acceptance on an intellectual and moral basis that lust, and what it leads to, is inexplicable from human nature. The only peace seems to come from acceptance, which of course suggests anything but peace (those who have been entangled by lust likely know this). Various reviews of this book promised a saving of lust from intolerant traditions, or what implies an intellectual acceptance of the West's most maligned pleasure. Given that, how could one not pick up and read this tiny book?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Simon Blackburn has given us one of the top two of the 7 Deadly Sins series - hugely enjoyable, highly informative and one of those rare things: an intelligent book that neither patronises nor bores the reader to death. (For the record, I think the other one is Envy)

Most philosophy books fall into two deadly and sinful categories. They tend to be either simplistic, so that anyone with a serious interest beyond degree level becomes frustrated and dissatisfied; or they're way too 'academic' and technical, forcing the reader to tear his (or her) hair out by the roots and retreat to the sports channels on television. Blackburn avoids both hellish places here, giving an intelligent overview of his allocated sin while keeping the reader pinned to the pages as though reading a novel.

His amusing and often almost poetic writing style not only grips, but leads you down alleyways of the history of ideas that both entertain and get you thinking. But that's his chief problem, because once you think a little about what you're reading, you realise the flaw in his method of argument. He's simply enjoying himself too much.

This shouldn't hurt, and really it doesn't; on the other hand it leaves you with the feeling that he's missed something along the way. Sin is, after all, quite deadly, and rather than condemning as prudes or psychologically scarred misfits those people who have historically told us that it's bad, it would have been helpful to have been taken along the darker streets of lust for a change.

Hell, it's fashionable these days to defend things like lust.
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Format: Hardcover
There are seven classic deadly sins, and most of them are deadly dull. I couldn't read a book about gluttony, for instance, and pride, envy, anger, sloth, and greed are all either humdrum or so obviously bad for you that there would seem no point in studying on them. Oxford University Press, however, in conjunction with the New York Public Library, has brought out a volume on each of them, none of which I will read. But lust, well, that's another subject altogether. There's a deadly sin that I really like, and refuse to see as sinful. Lust is worth participating in and thinking about, and the Oxford volume _Lust_ by philosopher Simon Blackburn provides an encouraging set of essays that will not please those who insist that lust is just as bad as gluttony or greed. "It might seem, then," writes Blackburn, "quixotic or paradoxical, or even indecent, to try to speak up for lust. But that is what I shall try to do." Try, nay - he succeeds.
Lust has gotten plenty of bad press, a short history of which Blackburn enjoys giving. Plato put a shamefulness upon lust that it has never subsequently shaken. It was an axiom, however, that shame was inherently connected to lust, and that although there was no shame in enjoying a good meal, there was in enjoying a good coition. Saint Augustine has the reputation of demonizing lust for all Christians thereafter, but Blackburn points out that by the time he came along, "the cult of virginity was in full swing." Augustine insisted that it was regrettable to feel pleasure when one impregnated one's wife, but coitus just for the sake of pleasure was incomparably naughty.
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