The Power of Love: An Analysis of Sexual Desire
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In Part I of this essay, I will explore the philosophical history of sexual desire, beginning with an analysis of Plato’s Symposium. We will inspect the classical polarity in the moral evaluation of sexual desire, for it is here that the question of whether to indulge or ignore the desires of one’s body is initially raised. Afterwards, I will present Christianity’s adoption of the ascetic principles presented in the Symposium, namely, the renunciation of sexual desire, showing the level of control entailed in the guilt associated with one’s body. In Part II of this essay, I will present three phenomenologies of sexual desire by three different philosophers. Initially, I will show the nature of the control inherent in sexual desire on the individual level by explaining Jean-Paul Sartre’s theory of consciousness and its relation to the Other. We will see how the encounter with another individual necessarily calls for conflict and how the resolution of this conflict is sought through sexual desire. Then, we will examine the relationship between the individual and mankind with the philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer as our guide. Here, the control of the human species will be presented as the illusion of love. This illusion is forced upon each individual, tricking them to pursue illogical aims. Finally, we will look at how the individual is controlled by modern society by analyzing the philosophy of Herbert Marcuse. We will see how we have been de-sexualized by a society structured to satisfy the individual so as to ensure his maximum productive capabilities. This satisfaction will be shown to be an inhibitor of human freedom as it contributes to a leveling of the human will.
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