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.