Both are deadly to the moral life but they push or pull in opposite directions. Lust leads to dispersion into sensuous multiplicity. Pride leads to fixation on the false unity of the ego. These are two different ways to lose your soul or true self.
Apropos of fairly recent usage of the word 'sublunary' on the MavPhil blog,
and the entry on sexbots, I offer you C.S. Lewis' take on both in this
paragraph from That Hideous Strength.
"On this side (of the moon, facing the earth - DB), the womb is barren and the marriages are cold. There dwell an accursed people, full of pride and lust. There when a young man takes a maiden in marriage, they do not lie together, but each lies with a cunningly fashioned image of the other, made to move and to be warm by devilish arts, for real flesh will not please them, they are so dainty (delicati) in their dreams of lust. Their real children they fabricate by vile arts in a secret place.” (First Scribners Classics ed., 1996, p. 271)
So what can we teach the Muslim world? How to be gluttons?
Another sign of decline in the Spenglerian gloom of Der Untergang des Abendlandes is the proliferation of TV food shows, The U. S. of Bacon being one of them. A big fat 'foody' roams the land in quest of diners and dives that put bacon into everything. As myself something of a trencherman back in the day, I understand the lure of the table. But I am repelled by the spiritual vacuity of those who wax ecstatic over some greasy piece of crud they have just eaten, or speak of some edible item as 'to die for.'
It is natural for a beast to be bestial, but not for a man. He must degrade and denature himself, and that only a spiritual being can do. Freely degrading himself, he becomes like a beast thereby proving that he is — more than a beast.
An earlier post addressed the nature of gluttony. One important point to emerge was that gluttony cannot be identified with the consumption of excessive amounts of food or drink. But what is wrong with it?
There are the worldling's reasons to avoid gluttony and there is no need to review them: the aesthetic reasons, the health reasons, and the safety reasons. These are good reasons, but non-ultimate.
The best reason to avoid gluttony, one that applies both to gluttony as excessive consumption and gluttony as inordinate concern for food, is that gluttony and other vices of the flesh interfere with the exercise of our higher nature, both intellectual and spiritual.
If you eat too much and die before your time you have merely shortened your animal life. Much worse is to blind your spiritual eye.
Before we can ask whether there is anything morally wrong with lust we have to know what we are talking about. What is lust? Here is a start:
The inordinate craving for, or indulgence in, the carnal pleasure which is experienced in the human organs of generation.
But this won't do as it stands since it mixes desire and satisfaction in the same definition. It also fails to distinguish between lust as an occurrent state and lust as a disposition or propensity. Suppose we distinguish:
1. Desire for sexual pleasure 2. Inordinate desire for sexual pleasure 3. Satisfaction of the desire for sexual pleasure 4. Satisfaction of the inordinate desire for sexual pleasure 5. Habitual satisfaction of the inordinate desire for sexual pleasure.
Virtues and vices are habits. Habits are dispositions of agents. As dispositions, virtues and vices can exist unexercised. Agents are persons. So virtues and vices are properly and primarily attributed to persons. But a secondary mode of speech is allowable: lustful or lecherous acts (whether types or tokens) are such in virtue of their being the acts of persons who are lustful or lecherous in the primary sense.
If lust is a vice, then it is a habit, and (5) appears adequate as a definition. We can then define a lecher as one whose characteristic vice is lust, just as a glutton is one whose characteristic vice is gluttony and a miser is one whose characteristic vice is avarice.
Thus we may assign lust to the category of habits. It is something dispositional in nature. The lustful person is disposed to satisfy inordinately his or her desire for sexual pleasure. 'Inordinate' is a normative term in that it implies that there is a proper or correct ordering of sexual desire.
But a habit need not be a vice. A habit could be a virtue or neither a virtue nor a vice. There are morally indifferent habits, e.g., the habit of shaving after showering, and not vice versa. Presumably, lust is a vice if it is a habit that vitiates, or weakens. Does lust weaken? Distinguish physical from moral weakening. The exercise of lust needn't physically weaken, except temporarily; but it arguably does morally weaken inasmuch as it makes it more difficult to control the appetites generally. The 'rational part' then gets swamped and suborned -- which can't be good. But at the moment I am mainly concerned just to define lust, not to condemn it.
Is a vice a sin? Sin is a religious concept. One cannot properly speak of sin outside the context of religion. Indeed, it seems one cannot properly speak of sin outside the context of theistic religion. Not every religion is theistic. Or are there sins in Buddhism? In a slogan: no God, no sin. But even if all religion is either false or meaningless, virtue ethics can still be a going enterprise. So I suggest that we not conflate the concepts of vice and sin. The fact that 'sin' can be used and is sometimes used to refer to any old transgression of any old rule, as in talk of 'sins against logic,' proves nothing.
Vices vitiate while virtues empower. Vices are weaknesses while virtues are strengths. But there has to be more to it than that because of the normative element.
'Lust' can be used to refer to strong desire or craving. But this is an extended use of the word. Thus if I say that Hillary lusts after power, I am using 'lust' in an extended or analogous way: I am not suggesting that Hillary's desire for power is sexual in nature. There is nothing wrong with extended uses of terms as long as one realizes what one is doing. There is nothing wrong with speaking of a lust for money so long as you realize that that way of talking gives no aid and comfort to the notion that avarice is a species of lust.
Ad 1. Lust is not desire for sexual pleasure. The latter is both natural and morally unobjectionable. Lust, however, is morally objectionable. (Yes, I know I haven't proved this. But can it be proved? From which premises? And can they be proved?)
Ad 2. To be lustful, a sexual desire must be inordinate. This is a normative term, obviously. An inordinate desire is one that exceeds what is right and proper. It is not just a powerful desire, or a desire that is excessive in some nonnormative sense. Now suppose I have a powerful, and indeed an inordinate, desire for sexual pleasure, but I resist the desire. Strictly speaking, I am not lustful. Lust is morally objectionable, but my resistance to inclination is morally praiseworthy.
You say this goes against ordinary usage? Then I say so much the worse for ordinary usage! My concern is not to define words of ordinary language, but to delimit a phenomenon. You might say I am doing moral phenomenology. I am trying to capture the essence of a certain deleterious propensity widespread among human beings. I am not tied to the apron strings of ordinary langauge.
I am saying: Look at this phenomenon. How can we best describe its essence? I am not primarily interested in how 'lust' is most often used in ordinary English. Ordinary language has no veto-power over philosophical results. Appeals to ordinary language cut no ice in serious philosophy. This is not to say one can ignore ordinary language. Sifting through ordinary usage is often an indispensable proto-philosophical exercise.
Ad 3 and 4. Lust must therefore involve the satisfaction of inordinate sexual desire. But even this is not enough. Someone who satisfies his inordinate sexual desire once or a few times is no more a lecher than one who overeats once or a few times is a glutton. Similarly, one who pursues an exercise regimen for a week and then relapses into sloth is still a couch potato.
Ad 5. The satisfaction must be habitual. Lust is therefore a habit, and indeed a vice. It is a disposition to behave in a certain way. As such, it can exist even when unexercised. A lustful man is lustful even when he is sated or sleeping. A lustful thought or deed is lustful because its springs from a lustful character.
I like food. From the time that I was in the food and beverage industry, I found much of it a delight. There was a beauty to the craftsmanship of creating and serving food and drink. One of my very favorite things to do is to cook a fine meal paired with a great beer and see my wife enjoy both. I consider myself a novice in cooking, so I like to browse through cook books and food magazines. On my breaks from my academic reading, I like to watch videos about food and cooking. So then came a question to my mind: What distinguishes me from the glutton?
I have always been a slim man, so I'm clearly not physically gluttonous. But is that what really constitutes gluttony? Would it not rather be the undue preoccupation of food and its enjoyment that would make one a glutton? Where do you think the balance lies in enjoying food and the sensations it brings because the Lord has made creation and made it good and we can partake of it without being gluttonous?
Being of Italian extraction, I am also attracted to the pleasures of the table. I too like food and I like cooking. I can't quite relate to people who wolf their food without savoring it or think of eating as a chore. And it surprises me that so many men (and contemporary women!) are clueless when it comes to the most basic culinary arts. You can change a tire or fix a toilet but you can't make a meatloaf? I had a housemate once who literally didn't know how to boil water.
Let me begin with the reader's claim that being slim rules out being physically gluttonous. I don't think that is the case. But it depends on what physical gluttony is. Spiritual gluttony, the pursuit for their own sakes of the quasi-sensuous pleasures of prayer and meditation, is not our present topic. Our topic is physical gluttony, or gluttony for short. It is perhaps obvious that the physicality of physical gluttony does not rule out its being a spiritual/moral defect. But what is gluttony?
Gluttony is a vice, and therefore a habit. (Prandial overindulgence now and again does not a glutton make.) At a first approximation, gluttony is the habitual inordinate consumption of food or drink. But if 'inordinate' means 'quantitatively excessive,' then this definition is inadequate. Suppose a man eats an excessive quantity of food and then vomits it up in order to eat some more. Has he consumed the first portion of food? Arguably not. But he is a glutton nonetheless. To consume food is to process it through the gastrointestinal tract, extracting its nutrients, and reducing it to waste matter. So I tentatively suggest the following (inclusively) disjunctive definition:
D1. Gluttony is either the habitual, quantitatively excessive consumption of food or drink, or the habitual pursuit for their own sakes of the pleasures of eating or drinking, or indeed any habitual overconcern with food, its preparation, its enjoyment, etc.
If (D1) is our definition of guttony, then being slim does not rule out being gluttonous. This is also perhaps obvious from the fact that gluttony has not merely to do with the quantity of food eaten but with other factors as well. The following from Wikipedia:
Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
Ardenter - eating too eagerly.
I think it is clear that one can be a glutton even if one never eats an excessive quantity of food. The 'foody' who fusses and frets over the freshness and variety of his vegetables, wasting a morning in quest thereof, who worries about the 'virginity' of the olive oil, the presentation of the delectables on the plate, the proper wine for which course, the appropriate pre- and post-prandial liqueurs, who dissertates on the advantages of cooking with gas over electric . . . is a glutton.
There are skinny gluttons and fat gluttons, and not every one who is obese is a glutton, though most are.
In short, gluttony is the inordinate consumption of, and concern for, food and drink, where 'inordinate' does not mean merely 'quantitatively excessive.' It is also worth pointing out that there is nothing gluttonous about enjoying food: there is nothing morally wrong with enjoying the pleasures attendant upon eating nutritious well-prepared food in the proper quantities.