"It is solely to the Christian impostors we are indebted for having puffed lust up into crime". So wrote De Sade at the end of the 18th century, when the "lights" of Reason were falling before the "lanterns" of Terror. One may agree or not with the divine Marquis, yet lust appear to be more of a pulsating force of nature than a mere sin. It may well be a bad vice, but we are also perfectly aware that from private vice there springs forth public virtue. Lust is not only a manifestation of Eros, artistic creativity, and even the pleasure of scientific discovery. It is also and above all passion for knowledge, in the widest sense of the term, which comprises the focus of an open and libertarian society that tolerates no dogma. So, as the author of this book points out, lust has unexpected allies, including Dante, Boccaccio, Giordano Bruno, Picasso, Buuel, and Mozart. But the true prophet of lust remains Don Juan. This text depicts lust in its many facets, including power, pleasure, deception, and above all freedom.
Giulio Giorello teaches Philosophy of Science at the University of Milan.