Sunday, November 6, 2011

All for Lust?? - Part 1

“The world runs on lust”, Alex said. At this point I put down the book Resident Dormitus which I have been reading since yesterday (and which will be my next review candidate) and started thinking whether Alex’s theory is really true--  do people really do everything only for lust.. This post is a product of this particular mental aerobics session of mine. (This post became quite long, so putting up the first part here. Part 2 coming soon! And ya, I know I don't usually write adult stuff and this might not go well with some of my readers- you can still read on.. This post is very much in the style of "Love is in the air"... )

 Ok. So the theory here is that everything that men (or women) do is with the intent of finding a better partner to bed. Actions like trying to find a better job (better job = better salary= higher chance of finding a more desirable spouse), or having spikes in your hair (looking cool= being more desirable to opposite sex) quite obviously substantiate the theory. But what about actions like becoming the CEO of a company? In the book, the guy argues that wanting to become a CEO is a product of the desire to earn respect, which is itself born out of the desire to find a better partner. He goes on to argue that in every action a person does, he/she seeks to differentiate him/herself from the majority in order to increase his/her chances of finding a better partner.

Looking at it from an evolutionary standpoint, this theory
looks like it makes sense. As all animals, humans started out as a species whose ultimate goals were to find food and to reproduce, while staying alive, where there was always competition in finding food and sex; evolution would naturally lead to a set of humans whose every action would optimally lead them to both. To some extent, the act of reproduction is more important to a species in evolution than finding food, once the animal has passed on its own genes to an offspring (selfish gene point of view*), and hence we could hypothesize that the incentive from food eventually wanes out and all actions are intrinsically motivated by lust.

You could think of it as a game and some actions you do increase your HP (Hotness points!), where HP is a measure of your desirability/eligibility in terms of finding a partner. If the goal of the game is to get maximum HP and keep yourselves alive, and if you had a time limit or an energy cost for doing any action, with time you would end up doing only those actions that increased your HP, such that you might reach a time where all your actions shall increase your HP in some small way or the other. (Rather, you would stop doing anything that doesn’t give any HP). So with a game theory-like argument, it is quite logical that humans might have ended up as a species whose every action is essentially motivated by the prospect of finding a partner.

If you are like me, you would stop here and ask- wait, isn’t there a catch? Yes! Yes! Of course! :)

Imagine a society of people who value celibacy. The most desired man in such a society is the one who can resist the most irresistible of temptations and who remains single throughout his life. This is purely hypothetical, of course, but there is nothing to stop such a society from existing in this world. Men in such a society might still go after power and money, and they might also style their hair into spikes, but their motivation might be to become the best looking celibate ;) From an evolutionary standpoint, one might argue that such a society will cease to exist since of course, no one is reproducing. Again, not quite true. Such a society could have a small subset of its population, say about 10-20% of people who are not “allowed” to be celibate, and who “must” reproduce. The children might be adopted by the rest of the population. If anyone wonders how this arrangement would work, one can imagine it as a type of caste system with the upper caste being celibate and prestigious, and the lower caste delegated to the menial task of sustenance! This kind of arrangement can survive for centuries, if backed by the proper belief systems and religious approvals. Again, all this hypothetically.

But I hope you do see there is a catch in the “All for lust” theory we talked about. So, forgetting the hypotheses, what’s the catch in reality? Which loophole in evolution allows humans to develop into a society that values celibacy?

(To be continued...

 Part 2 here. )

*Selfish gene point of view: Not going into the theory, here I mean that all organisms act in a way to ensure their genes' survival. Since after reproduction and sufficient growth of the offspring the gene does not require the organism to survive, the effect of food can be ignored.


  1. Nice post.

    A society that values celibacy but doesnt allow its best celibate people to reproduce will only advance "mediocre" gene. No? So such a society is doomed to die over time?

    You could argue that ant societies like that - very specialized with one queen ant and a few studs and all others performing their specialized tasks. But the catch is that they probably do not value celibacy per se and still allow for their best genes to move forward :-)

    As a human being (arguably), I find it very disgusting to be told that all my actions are to get me laid. But, I think you are trying to seggregate what we feel from what we do (driven by our genetic urges). So, depending upon which horny prehistoric gene survived in us (it doesnt look like it is ant's), we may be after lust or then again not.

    Now, that rambling of mine wasnt very helpful but hopefully contributes to the debate.

    Look forward to your next post and "the catch"!

  2. @Anon:
    To answer your first question, mediocrity doesn't die that easily. In fact, because it is neither too good nor too bad, it is bound to survive for longer!
    For the second, yes even I wouldn't want to think that the world really runs on lust- it is a little demeaning on human beings. However, from a purely biological point of view, it is quite a strong argument- which is why I took it up in the first place! :)

    I hope you get more answers in Part 2 of this post! :)

  3. I have one question... If I am doing something to find a better partner, why is that I feel like doing more interesting stuff with myself even after I found a better partner?


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