5.21.2010

Meditations on Desire, Part 2

want
1. to feel a need or a desire for; wish for:

Want. I want to go ride my jet ski. I want to go get ice cream. I believe that there are many misconceptions about what "want" is truly defined as. Want is intangible. It is a feeling. To want something is not to require it, although something required may indeed be wanted. I want to go see Iron Man 2, but I don't require this. I require proper hygiene to maintain my physical body, and I want to brush my teeth after I finish writing.

You may be immediately jumping to the comparison between want and need, but let me ask you to stick with me on wanting a little longer. To want is not inherently evil. I am not a Stoic. I am not of the philosophic system that decrees all desire as inherently bad and unnatural. Epictetus, a Stoic, stated:
"Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire."
Now I do not seek to explore the concept and definition of freedom in this post, but a brief comment is called for. If a man is to be completely removed of desire, will this man have any true soul? How can a human being with a volitional nature operate without forces that press them on in all directions of life? To strip a man of desire is not to free him, but to effectively turn him into a functional piece of fleshly machinery. Want - desire - is not evil. Lest I leave many confused, the wants of man have indeed become totally depraved and affected by the evil which is sin, but desire in itself is of no evil. I digress...

It seems to me that I certainly have some manner of "freedom" as Epictetus would mention, but I do still conflictingly have desires. I can somewhat identify with this ancient Stoic in the sense that desire can often bring confusion and frustration within one's mind. I think this is perhaps a more natural reflection of the human state. If we had no desire, how pitiful the human race would be.

Next entry in the series: I will address a specific example in my life where desire frustrates and confuses and try to explore this and offer some thinking points...especially for my own sanity.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, desire is not only inherent in our makeup, but integral to the soul, and the nature of the soul's desires shows what it is. The stoics made a foundational mistake in their thinking, believing the natural world to be inherently evil, and arguing that if man could only be made free from his desires for anything external that he could, by extension, be free from what was evil. Jesus however, makes it clear to us that what goes into a man does nothing to make him more or less holy, but what comes out of a man's heart shows what he is, and that defiles. (Matt 15:17-18) The end of sanctification is not the elimination of human desires, but their alteration. Freedom then, is secured by nothing less than the fulfilling of one's desires, providing that one's desires have been made primarily the manifestation of the glory of God in one's life!

    ReplyDelete