Deep Desires

Religious Studies 55 (3):389-403 (2019)
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This article seeks to get clear on an important feature of a theistic way of life: namely, the appeal to ‘deep desires’ as part of an ethical and spiritual life-orientation. My main thesis is that such appeals should primarily be seen as pertaining to our acquired second nature and the space of meaning it makes possible, rather than first nature or innateness. To appeal to the ‘depth’ of a desire, on this account, is to say something about its normative importance: it is something of profound significance for our human fulfilment about which we ought to be concerned, and it correlates with the normative ‘height’ of the object of desire. Thus, our deepest desire correlates with what is seen as the highest or most worthy object of our desire (or love), which the theist claims is God. This view is contrasted with subjectivist accounts where desires are seen as ‘deep’ in that they structure our identity. My account affirms that deep desires structure our identity, but they do so because of their perceived objective normative importance. I also seek to show how we should affirm Alasdair MacIntyre's claim that ‘the deepest desire of every [human] being, whether they acknowledge it or not, is to be at one with God’.
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