Thursday, December 8, 2016

Love vs Lust

What is love and what is lust? How can we distinguish between the two terms? Which one have we felt in the past? These are interesting questions. Defining ideas and words are a first step in order to understand them and try and achieve the ideal, our objective in life and in our actions. Philip Sherrard in his interesting book Christianity and Eros, he explains the difference of love and lust. He begins by giving St Augustine’s definition of lust, whereby it’s ‘essentially a desire for self-satisfaction.’ (p.45). The author continues his explanation:

[Lust] is a desire to possess something, to make it serve our own purpose and become part of us. In lust, it is the self which is the centre of attraction, and the object which stimulates it is simply an object and nothing more. That is why lust dies when it is satisfied: it ends with self-gratification, and then disappears until it is rekindled again by its object. In this it is to be distinguished from love. In love, it is not the self but the object which is the centre of attraction. One can go even further and say that the object of love ceases to be an object and becomes an ‘other,’ a particularised being, and it is this ‘other’ that is the centre of attraction. And love is fulfilled (not satisfied, which it never can be) not in an act of appropriation in which nothing is given; it is fulfilled in a total act of giving. It is the activity in which the self goes out of itself in the most complete way. This is not to say that lust and love represent an absolute duality in human life. Lust is not love. But if love is centred on the self and not on what is loved it becomes lust. (pp.45-6). 

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