Archive for March, 2010

Sexual Intelligence Awards

by Jason Stotts

On his blog Sexual Intelligence, author and therepist Dr. Marty Klein, hosts a yearly round up of those people who “challenge the sexual fear, unrealistic expectations, and government hypocrisy that undermine love, sex, and relationships—and political freedom—today.”  This is called the Sexual Intelligence awards and this year Dr. Klein honors some very interesting thinkers.  Definitely go and check it out and, if you’ve never done so, take a look at the rest of his blog.  There is a lot of good information there.
Sexual Intelligence Awards

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The Office

by Jason Stotts

If you like The Office, you’ll be sure to love The Japanese Office.

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Very Dissatisfied

by Jason Stotts

In case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work for a telecom company, see this video.  It is exactly like my experience working for a certain cell company (cough…Verizon Wireless…).  The problem is that they institute principles at the senior management level that might make sense, but by the time it filters down to the customer-facing level, it has become a concrete rule with not even a quantum of reason.

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Relationships: A Continuum of Permissiveness

by Jason Stotts

In this essay, I want to explore the concept of permissiveness and exclusivity as they relate to relationships.  I want to explore the idea that relationships exist along a continuum of permissiveness with a completely jealous relationship at one extreme and an open relationship at the other, with exclusive relationships and swinging relationships in between.

To start, let’s define our subject.  Permissiveness, as used in this essay, is an agreement between partners for what actions they allow in their relationship.  We will leave aside the issue of partners who break their commitments and are dishonest as being outside the scope of this essay.  The basis of their agreement is how much they are willing to allow their partner to do before they could not stand the relationship anymore or consider there to no longer be a relationship.

At the completely non-permissive side of the continuum, where the partners are not permissive of any sort of outside relationships (up to and including friendships) with their partner, is what we will term the “jealous relationship.”  This relationship is characterized by an extreme kind of insecurity where one or both of the partners feels insecure in their relationship and so cannot trust their partner to remain loyal to their relationship.  It is frequently, and perhaps properly, characterized as a relationship where at least one of the partners considers his partner to be property and then tries to jealously guard his property.  In the extreme versions of the jealous relationship, at least one partner is forbidden from any sort of contact with others: even close friendships are beyond what the jealous partner can tolerate.

Moving to a somewhat more permissive position, we have the classic “regular relationship” which we will call the “exclusive relationship.”  This relationship is characterized by an agreement between the partners that outside obligations are fine, as long as they are not of a sexual nature or involve romantic love.  Some partners make agreements about how much time can be committed to activities outside of the relationship and some do not.  However, the important point is that each partner has the freedom to do as they please as long as they don’t have sex with others or fall in love with them.

Moving to an even more permissive position, we have the non-sexually exclusive romantic relationship or what we will call the “emotionally exclusive.”  This relationship is characterized by a couple who is much like the exclusive relationship from above, except they do not reserve sexual action for only between the partners.  That is, they are emotionally exclusive, they do not allow the partners to form other romantic love relationships, but they are not sexually exclusive.  In the classic case of “swingers,” the partners act together to engage is sexual relationships with other people besides their partners.  This is not to say that they are always literally with each other, but that they act in concert.  Alternatively, the partners could act individually and have sex with outside people at their own discretion without the need to discuss this with their partner.

At the far extreme of permissiveness, we have the completely permissive couple to whom very little is barred, or what we shall call the “open relationship.”  This relationship is characterized by a relationship that is neither sexually nor emotionally exclusive and in which partners may have sexual liaisons or form romantic relationships with people besides their “primary partner.”  The concept of primary relationship is very important in this kind of relationship and serves as a focus around which people operate their activities.  Typically, although not always, primary partners function as any other relationship: they live together, consult each other for important decisions, etc.  However, they need not consult each other in order to have sex with others or to develop emotional connections.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the subject we’ll be working in, we can see that these relationships do indeed operate along a continuum of permissiveness.  However, we still need to understand the key term here: permissiveness.  Permissiveness implies permission for action.  They key to understanding it is to understand in what realm one is permitted to act.  Obviously, in the subject at hand we are talking about permission in sexual action and forming emotional connections.  We need to be careful not to limit emotional connections to just love, because some people can be jealous of any kind of emotional connection.  Now, obviously permissiveness and exclusivity are inversely related; the more one is permissive, the less one is exclusive.

The degree to which a relationship can be permissive is a function of at least two things: one’s security in oneself and one’s trust in one’s partner.  Leaving aside moral concerns for a moment, it is clear that the couple who is insecure or does not trust each other could not be permissive.  Their very permissiveness would cause their relationship to disintegrate.  The less secure the relationship, the less permissive it can be without falling apart; the more secure the relationship, the more permissive it can be without falling apart.  This is simply a practical matter that we can note if we leave aside the moral issues; however, when do we ever leave aside the moral issues?

The problem with the moral issues is that they are exceedingly complicated here.  There are a number of moral concerns at play and we don’t yet have a complete theory of sexual ethics by which to judge the applicability of the competing principles.  For this reason, I will continue to withhold judgment until we can complete the account of the differences in relationships and their impact on a person’s life and happiness.

As a final thought, I want to point out that there is at least one serious counter-example to the above-proposed framework.  That is the case of the person who thinks that he owns his partner and so is willing to share her sexually.  It is true that one can only share something that one owns.  This means that if a person shares his partner sexually, it means he owns his partner sexually.  The error is that the statement “one can only share something that one owns” uses the word “something” (some+thing) and people are not things.  Indeed, in the above-described examples, one is only “sharing” one’s partner in a very loose sense as both partners are making the choice, as agents, to engage in sexual and/or emotional activities.  The very paradigm of thinking about “sharing one’s partner” is founded upon an error and loose thinking.  However, this does not mean that people do not think and act this way, and so it could be considered a counter example.  Nonetheless, I want to insist that it exists outside of the proposed spectrum because it cannot be held without error.

In the future, I will be using this continuum in order to try and understand the different ways in which people structure their relationships and whether any of these seem to be better constituted to achieve a person’s rationally selfish long-term happiness.

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Open Audition for New Authors

by Jason Stotts

Are you a blogger on a small site without much traffic looking to increase your presence?  Are you a good writer, but have never tried blogging before and want to see what it’s like?  Are you just looking for a good blog team to join?

Erosophia is expanding and we’re looking to bring one one or two new writers to help contribute pieces.  The expectation would be 1-3 pieces per week, on any topic of your choosing.  The only stipulation is that the pieces must be philosophic in nature: they must explore the deeper issues of whatever subject you pick. Furthermore, the philosophic foundation should be Objectivist, although Aristotelians are welcome to apply.

Now, obviously this is not going to be paid (HA!), but Erosophia does get around 7,500 visitors per month now and it’s constantly increasing, so you will get exposure for your writing and ideas.

To apply, all you need to do is email me [erosophia.blogspot (at) gmail.com] and tell me a little about yourself.  You’ll also need to submit at least one sample blog post, which can be of any length.  If you pass through the initial inspection, then you’ll go into a probationary period for 10 posts or so where each will be moderated by me.  After that time, you’ll be free to write whatever you want and will be granted writer status at Erosophia, allowing you to log in and post by yourself.  You can either publish under your own name or a nom-de-plume if you prefer.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

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Sex Day USA

by Jason Stotts

There is a new movement going on now called SexDayUSA and their goal is to have Congress declare 3/3 to be National Sexual Awareness day.  I was approached by the organizers and agreed to write one of the first essays and to be an occasional blogger for them.  The essay is now up on their website, which just launched yesterday (3/3), at SexDayUSA.  Here is a teaser for the essay, but you’ll have to link over to get the whole thing:

When people use the terms “sexual knowledge” today, they mean things like knowledge of technique, anatomy, and positions.  These are indubitably important and can certainly help improve our sex lives.  However, they are far from exhaustive of the field of sexual knowledge.

When I think of sexual knowledge, I think of things like: understanding what sex is, what role sex has in a human life, whether we can identify what sex acts are moral or immoral, etc.  At an even more fundamental level, the very words we use to think about sex can influence our thoughts about it.  These more fundamental senses of sexual knowledge are necessary to really understand sex: after all, you wouldn’t go out and try to play baseball without first learning the nature of the game and its rules, would you?  It’s not that we don’t need to know sexual technique, we do, but if we cannot understand sex at the more fundamental levels, then all sex can ever be for us is just a source of physical pleasure, when it has the potential to be so much more as well as more pleasurable… (continue reading)

The purpose of the organization is to promote healthy sexuality and knowledge about sex.  They also want to stress that being sexual is a fundamental part of being human.  Below is the first draft of the resolution they want to send to Congress.

The Preliminary Text:

1.  Whereas, sexuality and gender are indisputably inseparable from human experience in shaping individual identity, eros and culture;

2.  Whereas, the arts, education and adherence to civil rights are fundamental to understanding, enriching and upholding the inherent sexual nature within our humanity;

3.  Whereas, individual sexual expression contributes to the pursuit of happiness;

4.  Whereas, the Comstock Act, adopted by Congress on March 3, 1873, unjustly restricted sexual education, culture and individual freedoms, causing immeasurable harm to educators, artists and countless individuals and families, who in turn, were implicitly denied from benefitting from them;

5.  Whereas, honoring sexual awareness furthers personal education and societal wisdom, helping to prevent sexual abuse and victimization, supporting familial cohesion, and empowers democratic discourse, embracing the very definition of the fabric of our nation, as a whole;

We herewith, ask Congress  to recognize March 3, 2010 as National Sexual Awareness and Free Speech Day.

I think that sexuality is important and I want to endorse what SexDayUSA is doing.  Of course, let me add the caveat that I may not necessarily agree with everything that they say and that only I speak for me.  However, I certainly agree with the spirit of the enterprise and will be blogging there for some of my posts on sexuality and sexual ethics.  Rest assured, dear readers of Erosophia, that I will put up a notice here whenever I do so that you won’t miss even a word of my writing.

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TED: Temple Grandin

by Jason Stotts

In one of the most epistemologically interesting videos I’ve ever seen, Temple Grandin talks about what it is like to think as an autistic person.  From the description:

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

The implications for epistemology that different minds can think differently is astounding!  In fact, it could completely change the way that epistemology is done today.  Instead of assuming that one human nature means that there is one right way to think, it might mean that there are multiple valid ways to think.  This means that we may have to have an epistemology that is capable of accommodating these different thinking styles.  For example, “pattern thinkers” have a distinct advantage for mathematics and music.  As an abstract cognitive thinker, I find music and art impossible, but Philosophy very easy.  Epistemology should be able to integrate all of these different ways of thinking and be able to give a cogent account of them.

I’m going to be getting her book soon and I’m planning an essay on this subject for sometime in the near future, after I learn more about it.  Until then, take a look at her video from TED.

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McDonlad v. Chicago

by Jason Stotts

In case anyone wants to read history as it happens, the oral arguments of the Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago on Second Amendment Rights and Incorporation is now available on the SCOTUS website: here.

I read the entire thing and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it.  I actually laughed out loud at a couple of points when the Justices grilled the lawyers and said lawyers (especially for the City of Chicago) walked themselves right into a corner.  Definitely check it out.

As an informal poll of Erosophia readers, what do you think of incorporation and the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”?  (Leave comments)

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