Is All Desire Worth Seizing?

Aug 1 2011 @ 1:32pm

Melissa Matthes pushes back against the thesis of Mark Oppenheimer's piece on Dan Savage. She believes the demands of monogamy can be "what actually make us fully human":

Desire is not made in isolation. And we know (at least since Augustine) that humans need a community of virtue in order to desire rightly. Yet, Savage makes it seem as if any sexual desire one has (unless it involves feces, children, pets, incest and the dead) is legitimate. And, while I appreciate these caveats, they are insufficient. Not because I think we should be policing sexual desire in some draconian, puritan way, but because it is still worthwhile for each of us to explore in more detail how desires are cultivated, why we want what we want, and, perhaps, what is the difference between “real” and “artificial” wants. Or perhaps more accurately, it is still worthwhile to consider which wants, desires, urges are themselves symptomatic of other more foundational desires — perhaps for power, intimacy, or recognition. Again, it’s unclear why sexual desire is privileged. Isn’t sexual desire, itself, sometimes (often?) epiphenomenal?

Earlier discussions of monogamy and marriage flexibility here, here and here.