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Why Are the Targets of Temperance “Appetite and Sexual Desire”?
Temperance controls an excess of pleasure. In modern society, the targets of temperance are vices such as drinking, smoking, drug addiction, and gambling. In general, temperance is related to many sorts of pleasure. However, fundamentally, the targets of temperance are “appetite and sexual desire,” as in the works of Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas (who did not encounter smoking, drug addiction, or harmful gambling in its modem form). Why are the targets of temperance limited just to these two desires?
Temperance restrains pleasures. However, if a pleasure is only small and is harmless, it does not require restraining, and if a desire for pleasure is very harmful and unnecessary for life, it should be forbidden rather than restrained. Worthless desires, such as addictions to drugs or gambling, should be controlled by being banned, not by temperance. What should be controlled surely by temperance is the desire which is necessary for life, has a strong pleasure and includes possibility to be controlled. I think that these criteria are met only by appetite and sexual desire. They can both give great pleasure-of all physiological desires, only these use particular physical sensory organs to give pleasure and these two desires can be stopped or promoted by the rational will of the individual. Thus, fundamentally, the targets of temperance are only appetite and sexual desire.
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Graduate School of Letters