Philosophy of Desire
Posted by aogThursday, 19 November 2009 at 20:51 TrackBack Ping URL

Orrin Judd cites an article on liberalism which I find a bit of a miss. Here is the key paragraph —

By liberalism I mean the view that equal freedom is the highest political, social, and moral principle. The big goal is to be able to do and get what we want, as much and as equally as possible.

That view comes from the view that transcendent standards don’t exist—or what amounts to the same thing, that they aren’t publicly knowable. That leaves desire as the standard for action, along with logic and knowledge of how to get what we want.

But this isn’t even coherent — is not the view stated in the first sentence a transcendent standard? What else is it, since it transcends every other consideration?

Perhaps he addresses this elsewhere, but modern liberalism is certainly not about all desires being equal. Beyond the race / gender / cultural categorization of desires (i.e., a desire is good or bad depending the properties of the person with the desire), I think the view that modern liberalism has even more fundamentally two types of desires —

  • sex : it’s all good, there should be no restrictions and no consequences
  • everything else: must be regulated for the good of society / person / the masses / the environment

I think classical liberalism was about maximizing consent, which is what I continue to hold as the primary value.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Friday, 20 November 2009 at 16:03

Liberalism is the idea that the desires of liberals should be satisfied. It is a successful political program only because so many share the same primitive desires: the desire for unlimited sex, other people’s money, and a hierarchically ordered society like baboon troops and chimpanzee bands.

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