Is lust the root of all evil?

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BenK64
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Lust is typically defined as strong sexual desire. Not all desire is bad, eg the desire to live free from fear is a 'good' desire. Augustine defined lust as 'the love of things one can lose against one's will'. This is a similar i think to the bhuddist idea that all suffering is caused by the desire for permanence in a world where nothing is permanent. The pursuit of material and impermanent things and satisfactions is immoral because it causes suffering for yourself and those around you.

So you can judge the morality of any action by looking at the motivation for that action. If lust is the underlying drive then the act must be immoral. All adultery would then be immoral. Theft of material things is immoral, because it is driven by lust for things which can be lost against your will. Theft of food by a starving boy is not immoral because it is driven by a desire to live free from the fear of hunger.

Most murder is immoral because it is done out of a desire to gain something. Murder to live free from fear can happen, eg a slave killing his master. This is not driven by lust and therefore not evil. However, you must question whether this is only to enable themselves to gratify their lusts in the future. So maybe the slave is wrong to kill his master?

What do you think? Can lust cause anything other than suffering in the long term? This also suggests that it is not the consequences of an action that make it moral/immoral but the motivation. Do you agree?
Last edited by BenK64; 1 year ago
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ZombieTheWolf
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What about if you are forced into doing immoral things? So you don't die. That isn't lust is it?


I know, highly hypothetically situation but it has definitely happened before.
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username4368582
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Money is
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BenK64
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(Original post by ZombieTheWolf)
What about if you are forced into doing immoral things? So you don't die. That isn't lust is it?


I know, highly hypothetically situation but it has definitely happened before.
Yeah that’s a good point. Depends how far you go. If life itself is something that can be lost against ones will then murder in self defence for example is driven by lust. So it’s immoral? Idk, intuitively it seems fair enough to me.
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Tootles
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(Original post by BenK64)
Lust is typically defined as strong sexual desire. Not all desire is bad, eg the desire to live free from fear is a 'good' desire. Augustine defined lust as 'the love of things one can lose against one's will'. This is a similar i think to the bhuddist idea that all suffering is caused by the desire for permanence in a world where nothing is permanent. The pursuit of material and impermanent things and satisfactions is immoral because it causes suffering for yourself and those around you.

So you can judge the morality of any action by looking at the motivation for that action. If lust is the underlying drive then the act must be immoral. All adultery would then be immoral. Theft of material things is immoral, because it is driven by lust for things which can be lost against your will. Theft of food by a starving boy is not immoral because it is driven by a desire to live free from the fear of hunger.

Most murder is immoral because it is done out of a desire to gain something. Murder to live free from fear can happen, eg a slave killing his master. This is not driven by lust and therefore not evil. However, you must question whether this is only to enable themselves to gratify their lusts in the future. So maybe the slave is wrong to kill his master?

What do you think? Can lust cause anything other than suffering in the long term? This also suggests that it is not the consequences of an action that make it moral/immoral but the motivation. Do you agree?
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
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gjd800
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The Buddhist idea of attachment is much, much further reaching than that of lust even on Augustine's definition.
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Leviathan1611
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no, the love of money is the root of all evil.
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TommyDH
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No. I don't think lust is inherently evil, nor do I think it necessarily makes you do evil things. A lust for power can make one do evil things, and often does, but it's not the lust for power that makes that person evil, the person him/herself is simply evil. If a person is greedy that person will do evil things out of greed, because the person him/herself is evil.

I'd certainly put 'greed' above 'lust' in terms of things that makes one 'evil'
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Picnic1
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No. I have thought about this previously.

The so-called deadly sins are a starting point to think what a root of all evil might be:

Pride
Envy
Gluttony
Lust
Anger
Greed
Sloth

It should be noted that some, or all, of these would be positives to some people. For instance, many successful businessmen who provide livelihoods to many people have understandable pride. Many people who had done a lot of good in life are understandably envious of someone who doesn't appear to have done so who has some things they don't. An erudie restaurant critic might be regarded as a glutton by those who don't care about his industry etc. All of those 'sins' can have positive effects, depending on what the actual action is and people's perceptions of it. The root of the 7 deadly sins should probably be one that ties them all together.

And that is Ignorance- so-called 'accidental' or deliberate. Ignorance of how some others might perceive your actions or - even more insidious and cowardly- lack of actions. Ignorance of people's thoughts or actions. Some people who would regard themselves as 'good' people are actually very ignorant- they think they're good and they think that the world is mostly good because they have blinkers on. Ignorance because many are blissfully (literally) dismissive of 'high falutin' things like philosophy, and, in the so-called 'modern' world (which actually resembles a medieval world in many ways in my view), they are solipsistic, having been fully indocrinated by Thatcherism / neo-liberalism and, perversely, welfarism for all in addition to it.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". - Edmund Burke

Now add all of the so-called 'good' men/women who do 'nothing' (metaphorically) to all of the clearly bad and/or regularly indifferent men/women and you get a cancerous society that, eventually, no longer resembles what it once was.

Ignorance is the root of all evil.

I do not overstate matters when I say that the great mass of people are potentially far more evil in their collective effect (or terrible lack of effect) than the worst dictator could ever be. Democracy rubberstamps types of evil in the name of so-called 'progress'.

Only people secretly obsessed with money think that money is the root of all evil. If there was no money, we'd barter goods instead- the same people would find ways to say that the business that kinds the gears of the world grinding is 'evil'. Sexual abuse/ rape does not depend on money to exist. Sexual abuse/ rape does not even depend on lust to exist. It depends on opportunity. And, for every opportunity, there is a potential ignorance that people have as to full extent of their, or others, power for good or bad depending on view.
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