Archive for January, 2008

Sexual Perfection: Overview

by Jason Stotts

Sex is one of the most important aspects of a human life and, unfortunately, also one of the least understood. Beliefs about sex range from the belief that it is one of the best things in life, to the belief that it is the vilest of acts; from the belief that sex should be consensual, to the belief that women are property; from the belief that sex should be intimately tied to love, to the belief that promiscuity is optimal. In fact, the beliefs about sex range the entire spectrum of possibility. Indeed, all of us will recognize some of these beliefs as our own, while others we would decry as immoral. But what is the basis of our beliefs about sex?

Most people have never introspected on their beliefs about sex and do not know their origin. Worse, though, is that these people would not be able to justify their beliefs either to themselves or others; they view these beliefs as a primary. If we were to analyze these beliefs on their behalf, we would find an amalgam of random platitudes, half-formed ideas, and incorrect conclusions, formed subconsciously as they developed and never questioned. Depending on how bad these ideas are, the person could experience everything from trouble maintaining relationships, to emotional repression, alienation from his lover, guilt and shame about sexuality, or even sexual dysfunction. He won’t be attracted to the kind of person he thinks he should and he will be attracted to the kind of person he thinks he shouldn’t. His sex life will be unsatisfying and he will engage in sex in order to feel less bad for a time, not in order to experience the greatest joy in life that comes from unifying with a good lover. The problems magnify sharply when these inimical beliefs about sex are held in common and acted upon socially.

Indeed, the widespread belief that sex is dirty leads directly to the belief that the sexual organs themselves are dirty. From this springs the practice of genital mutilation in order to “cleanse” the genitals: both male and female circumcision is common throughout the world. The belief that due to their “sexual superiority” men are better than women has led, throughout human history, to the subjugation of women. The belief that only heterosexual relations are moral has led to the marginalization and even slaughter of those who dare defy this “natural truth”. Unfortunately history gives us no end of further examples from the burning of un-submissive “witches”, to the dark-age practice of chastity belts, et cetera. Clearly, sexuality itself has been under attack for much of human history.

But what can be done? The solution is a critical philosophic analysis of sexuality. This will provide us with two vital pieces of information: the essential nature of sexuality and how one should incorporate sexuality into one’s life. The analysis must be comprehensive: it must include a study of ethics, friendship, romantic relationships, love, the nature of sex, different sexual acts, and ultimately how to incorporate sex into a good life. It must be a theoretical work designed to create knowledge, for knowledge must come before its application.

I want to write Sexual Perfection because these problems are pandemic. Sexuality is one of the most beautiful aspects of a human life: our lives are made better through good relationships, love, and sexual intimacy. Indeed, I’d argue that someone who does not know the joy of a true relationship, or who has never known the ecstasy of sexual union, cannot live a happy life. If you think like I do, then you would assume that love, relationships, and sexuality have been thoroughly studied and that clear principles exist in order to help people incorporate sexuality into their lives properly. You would find, however, nothing but a quagmire of ignorance, evasion, and repression. Although some research exists in the field of psychology about relationships, studies of love are not to be found. Worse, though, is the fact that sex has been historically considered to be impervious to reason. So, not only do no principles exist to help guide us in our sex lives, but it is also believed that such principles are, in fact, impossible.

Principles about sex are not only possible, but necessary in order to live the best kind of life. What good does it do me to know different sexual positions if the very idea of sex evokes intense feelings of shame? What good is advice on how to find people for a threesome if I don’t know whether or not I should do such a thing? Yet the current literature on sexuality deals with nothing but these points. There is not a single work that deals with sexuality from a philosophic perspective.

In order to understand sexuality we need to understand very abstract metaphysical truths: we need to understand the nature of masculinity, we need to understand the nature of femininity, we need to understand the nature of sexual attraction, and we especially need to understand the nature of sexual intercourse. Indeed, knowledge of all of these things and more is needed just in order to answer some of the simpler questions relating to sexuality. But, how does one discover the truth about sexuality?

The answer lies in Sexual Perfection.

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Triskaidekaphobia

by Jason Stotts

Although it is strange, it is a fact that many skyscrapers lack a 13th floor. It is not that these structures are limited to only 12 floors, since clearly many building are much taller than this. Rather, these buildings suffer from the irrationality of superstition. One would think that with all of the knowledge of mechanics, metallurgy, plumbing, etc., that go into making a super-structure like a skyscraper, irrationality would be left out. Indeed, it’s not as though there is only a void where the 13th floor would exist, but rather the floor is either not used or is merely renumbered to be the 14th floor. The entire phenomenon is an instance of the “primacy of consciousness”. In this case the people assume that if they don’t call the 13th floor the 13th floor, then it’s not.

In reality 13 is just a number and irrationality is deadly. Although this is a minor instance of irrationality, it’s surprising how many “little instances” one can find in everyday life. One thing that a rational person can do in order to improve their own life is to watch for little quirks like this triskaidekaphobia. The ability to pick out irrationality quickly, even from innocuous phenomena, can aid one is eradicating vestiges of irrationality from one’s own life. This, in turn, improves one’s life.

So, be on the look out for both internal and external irrationality!

(Also, feel free to post other little examples in the comments.)

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Subtle Love

by Jason Stotts

It’s surprising how much being in love with a worthy lover can change you.

I find it’s primarily the little things that have changed for me. For example, the other morning I was moved watching a beautiful sunrise. In fact, I’ve recently begun to notice how prevalent beauty is in the world. Everything now seems more meaningful than before, or at least I appreciate it more.

I think it stems from love’s reaffirmation of the benevolent universe principle. The principle is most easily stated in its negative form: the universe is not out to get you, evil only exists as the result of evil people. Positively, it reads: the world is a beautiful place where you can succeed if you but try.

All too often, though, people begin to think that the world is a hostile place, that people are “out to get them”, that they are unable to achieve any values. The problem here is bifold, but both rest with the person himself. The first problem is that people don’t exert themselves and want to be handed things instead. When this preposterous course of action fails, as it must, they lament this and wail that the universe is unfair. The second problem is that people fail to employ their reason to understand the world around them and consequently find the world inexplicable. Yet it is only their own failure that has made the world inexplicable; in actuality the world is a very reasonable place.

Love, true love, reaffirms the benevolent universe principle and shows us that we can have everything we want, if we only work for it. True love makes life better in innumerable ways and lets us experience the beauty of life directly through our lover. Those of us who have found true love should take the time to reflect on the subtle ways in which it has enhanced our lives and through this further appreciate our lovers.

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