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Happy 11th Birthday Erosophia!

by Jason Stotts

Happy_Birthday!

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 11 years already! A lot has happened in the last year, so let me give you an overview of what’s been going on. If you want to stay current with things, you can subscribe to Erosophia or for a more personal touch, subscribe to my new quarterly newsletter.

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Last year I said I’d be done with Eros and Ethos by December of 2015. Well, that was optimistic. On the other hand, there has been a lot of work done in the last year and it’s a much better book now. It currently stand at just over 188,000 words and approximately 600 book pages. I’ve listed the current chapters below and how complete they are, with respect to the number draft they are currently on and the total number of drafts anticipated. At the rate I’m going with my current editor, I expect to have a completed penultimate draft by January and to complete the final revisions by this time next year.

Part 1: The Theory

Chapter 1: Ethics (Ver. 3/4)

Chapter 2: Emotions and Sentiments (Ver. 3/4)

Chapter 3: Love (Ver. 3/4)

Chapter 4: Relationships (Ver. 3/4)

Chapter 5: Sexual Attraction & Fantasy (Ver. 2/4)

Chapter 6: Identity, Orientation, & Self-Understanding (Ver. 2/4)

Chapter 7: Sex, Union, & Intimacy (Ver. 2/4)

Part 2: Applications

Chapter 8: Erotic Decadence (Ver. 2/4)

Chapter 9: Faith, Mysticism, & Religion (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 10: Family & Progeny (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 11: Sex for Sale (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 12: Children & Sexuality (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 13: Polysexuality (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 14: Kink (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 15: Public & Private (Ver. 1/3)

Chapter 16: Society, Sex, & the Law (Ver. 1/3)

Conclusion (Ver. 1/3)

Epilogue: Selected Philosophic Essays (Ver. 1/3)

 

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Last year I announced that I’m working on my first fictional work called The Wizard’s Tower. I have spent most of the last year working on Eros and Ethos, but I am pleased to announce that The Wizard’s Tower is nearly done in first draft! If you’re interested in more news about The Wizard’s Tower, sign up for the newsletter to be the first to find out what’s going on with it.

If you’ve enjoyed Erosophia these last 11 years, please consider sending me some love.

You can donate via PayPal:




You can buy me a birthday present from my Amazon Wishlist.

You can email me and tell me that my work has had some impact in your life: Jason(at)JasonStotts.com (I could really use this one right now).

Or, you can like Erosophia’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ErosophiaBlog.

Finally, I want to thank all of you, for a great 11 years and I look forward to many more years to come.

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Newsletter

by Jason Stotts

I’m creating a special newsletter for people who are interested in keeping track of what I’m doing and the progress of my various projects, like Eros and Ethos or The Wizard’s Tower. If you’re interested, head to http://jasonstotts.com/newsletter and sign up there. The first edition will be going out soon and will include some exclusive content not found anywhere else.

 

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Reading, Antihistamines, and Aphantasia

by Jason Stotts

This post isn’t like most of my posts. In fact, it came together quite by accident. You see, just a little over a week ago, I watched a friend defend his dissertation and earn his Ph.D. (congrats, Dr. Moore!). What’s interesting about this is the subject of his dissertation, which was a phenomenological investigation into how we experience reading. This got me thinking about how I read and I eventually wrote him this letter titled “On Reading”:

I’ve been thinking about my own experience of reading recently and have some interesting insights I wanted to share with you. First, some back-story.

A couple of years ago I developed a pretty bad allergy to something that blooms in the Spring here. As a result, this year, I’ve been on antihistamines all Spring. At first I just felt tired and “out of it” and that was all the more I could describe it as. I’ve been changing antihistamines and finally settled on Allegra. Now, that’s not very interesting in itself, but it’s important to understand for what follows.

Usually when I read fiction, I do not experience the words on the page and, instead, experience pretty vivid mental imagery. In fact, I know that my mind has wondered when I start seeing the words again and then I go back and pick up the thread again. I experience reading fiction as a meditative experience or trance where I am not aware of my surroundings at all and I am immersed in the story and its images.

On the other hand, when I read nonfiction, I don’t experience the words imagistically. Indeed, I don’t usually find my mind populating the concretes subsumed under concepts when I think of the concepts (e.g. when I hear “table,” I don’t immediately start picturing all of the tables I have ever seen or even any of the things I know to be tables). When I do philosophy and read nonfiction, my mind stays in a purely conceptual frame, without images. When I think of arguments, I think of them as “flowing” or perhaps as links in a chain (although not with images), but rather they have a “feel” of one thing flowing or leading to another. (Partly, I’m sure, this is also my subconscious telling me whether things cohere with my own antecedent belief structure or what people call “intuition”.)

Anyway, my question at your defense grew out of thinking about my own experience of reading. I realized that the act of reading must first involve perception of the words on the page. However, concepts cannot be understood perceptually and words are simply symbols to stand in for concepts, so we must process the words conceptually. For me, then, when I deal with nonfiction, my mind stays in this conceptual area that doesn’t involve imagery. However, when I read fiction, my mind converts the concepts back into perceptual data based on story (e.g. reading “the moonlight shone softly across the water, highlighting the snow along its banks, and transforming the scene into a softness that enveloped them in its embrace” would give me the visual experience of this.) Now, you might be right that this isn’t a per se perceptual experience. Certainly, it’s what we would call the imag-ination in Aristotelian philosophy of mind, or the faculty of the mind that is capable of having visual experiences that are not immediately tied to our senses.

All of this, though, is partly a pre-amble to something I just realized: my ability to read is not the same right now as it usually is. Because of the allergy I’ve been on antihistamines. I’ve read several fiction books during this time, but even though they were well written and I enjoyed them, I couldn’t quite “see” them in the way I usually do. I realized that it started when I started taking the antihistamines. It seem that something about them prevents me from visualizing fiction in the way I usually do. To double check, I reread a passage from a book I’ve read several times and with which I usually visualize. It was the same: I was stuck seeing the words and not seeing the action.

Moreover, I also realized it’s deeply affected my ability to be creative while I’m writing. Even when writing nonfiction, I’m struggling to access my creativity in a way I don’t usually and I’m having a much harder time writing.

Because of his defense, I had been thinking about my own cognitions since then. So, imagine my surprise when I saw this essay “Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind” by Blake Ross on Facebook. Let me give you a small sample:

I just learned something about you and it is blowing my goddamned mind.

This is not a joke. It is not “blowing my mind” a la BuzzFeed’s “8 Things You Won’t Believe About Tarantulas.” It is, I think, as close to an honest-to-goodness revelation as I will ever live in the flesh.

Here it is: You can visualize things in your mind.

If I tell you to imagine a beach, you can picture the golden sand and turquoise waves. If I ask for a red triangle, your mind gets to drawing. And mom’s face? Of course.

You experience this differently, sure. Some of you see a photorealistic beach, others a shadowy cartoon. Some of you can make it up, others only “see” a beach they’ve visited. Some of you have to work harder to paint the canvas. Some of you can’t hang onto the canvas for long. But nearly all of you have a canvas.

I don’t. I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on ten minutes ago. I thought “counting sheep” was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamned mind.

[…]

What did you do today?

I don’t know. I don’t know what I did today.

Answering questions like this requires me to “do mental work,” the way you might if you’re struggling to recall what happened in the Battle of Trafalgar. If I haven’t prepared, I can’t begin to answer. But chitchat is the lubricant of everyday life. I learned early that you can’t excuse yourself from the party to focus on recalling what you did 2 hours ago.

[…]

And if you ask about my day, there’s a good chance that—having had no time to prepare—I’ll lie to you.
It is hard not to feel like a sociopath when you’re lying about how you spent your Monday and you don’t even know why. And there is a sadness, an unflagging detachment that comes from forgetting your own existence.

Imagine how I felt reading this! My mind was blown (but don’t actually form images of my mind being blown, or else we’ll be in different places). His account goes a long way in explaining the way I experience the world, although it’s not quite to the same degree as Blake. As a matter of course, I do not remember things imagistically. I can form mental images and hear music and such, but it’s very hard and comes with effort, I don’t simply do it (except for music, which comes easily). This has led me to have a very bad memory for what I’ve done in a day as well (or what Blake calls “experiential memory”), but a very good memory for philosophy and arguments: I can recall philosophic texts I read more than 10 years ago pretty clearly.

Just like with Blake, this leads me to forget things that I’ve done, even with people I care about, unless there was also some cognitive content with the experience to tie it all together. This is one of the reasons I like taking pictures so much: I really won’t remember how things looked without them.

It’s weird to think about how different my experience is from other people’s. I already knew, for example, that I am nearly indifferent to other people’s emotions: unless I already care about you, your emotions will not affect me in the slightest. Even then, I don’t always know how to handle other people’s emotions. This, however, may be tied to the same issue of visualization: I can’t actually imagine myself in your shoes (which I now assume might be literal).

Now, to bring everything together, I’ve noticed that since I’ve been on the antihistamines, my visual experience has been even more paltry, closer to Blake’s, than it usually is. I would have never noticed this, except that I noticed it in how I read and my friend’s dissertation defense got me thinking about the experience of reading. So, I’m wondering if there isn’t some connection between some part of the brain that antihistamines affect and our ability to form mental images. Undoubtedly, I would be a bad test subject, because I’m already bad at it. But, maybe by standing just on the cusp of being able to do it, I was able to notice the effect of the antihistamines in a way that others don’t, because they only have a small change.

Anyway, I will definitely be thinking more about this and its impact on my life, now that I have a clearer idea that its going on and how it is divergent from others’ experiences.

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News and Other Interesting Things

by Jason Stotts

1. Would the Candiru Fish Really Eat Your Genitals?

We’ve all heard the stories of “that fish” in the amazon that can even swim up your stream of urine and lodge itself in your urethra. But, is it true?

2. Are You Guilty of “Virtue-Signaling?”

Some people use moral outrage as a signal of their own virtue. This is a very interesting inquiry into this phenomenon and raises some very good questions.

3. The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

This is something I’m definitely guilty of: I don’t always work hard enough to try to understand my interlocutors. It’s something I’m working on.

4. The Man Who Studies the Spread of Ignorance

Sometimes people try to purposefully spread misinformation to confuse issues. This is an interesting analysis of the phenomenon as well as a more general discussion of how people get information and form beliefs.

5. Objectivism vs. Anarchism 

Many people often assume that Objectivism is closely related to anarchism or is compatible with it. Harry Binswanger has an excellent article discussing why this isn’t the case.

6. The Rites of Manhood: Man’s Need for Ritual

Ritual is a way that we create meaning in life. When combined with a rational philosophy, it can help you to feel more meaning in your life.

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Tea and Consent

by Jason Stotts

Consent can be a tricky subject to understand, but this video gets it precisely right.

(Except the part about putting milk in tea.)

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2015 Retrospective

by Jason Stotts

Usually, in early January, I do a big “Best of” the year post that highlights my best essays from the year. This year, however, there weren’t many essays on Erosophia. Nevertheless, it’s been a really big year for me! (Older best of’s: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009)

First, Erosophia turned 10  this year! I’ve been blogging for ten and a half years now. It’s funny, because I started blogging on a lark. At some point I started to really enjoy it and people kept reading it, so it’s just worked out that I’m still doing it.

Second, I graduated with my Master’s in Clinical Psychology in 2015 and started work as a MFT Intern specializing in sex therapy in Palm Springs (more details here).

Third, I started my first full-length fiction book “The Wizard’s Tower”. It’s about half done now and I hope to release it in the next year or two. As I get closer to releasing it, I’ll give out more details about the book and maybe even put up the first chapter here on Erosophia.

Finally, 2015 was a huge year for Eros and Ethos: A New Theory and Practice of Sexual Ethics, my forthcoming book on sexual ethics. I started writing it in January of 2008, so I’ve been at it 8 years now! I finished the complete first draft of E&E in 2014 and spent 2015 working on revising it and making it into a much better book. I’m about halfway through the third draft now and then there will only be one last quick copy-editing draft. I’m expecting to complete it and offer it for sale this year (hopefully!!!).

As we get a little closer, we’ll be setting up a website for the book launch at www.ErosandEthos.com (it’s not live yet). We’ll also announce a firmer publication date and set up a pre-order system. I’m also planning on doing a limited print of 50 or 100 books that are numbered and signed. They will be available through the Eros and Ethos website. The print version will follow the digital by a couple of weeks.

There is, however, one potential problem. Eros and Ethos is long. The present word count is a little over 170,000 words, which makes Eros and Ethos 20,000 words longer than both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets combined. Depending on the words per page calculation, publishing it as a single volume will be between 680 pages (at 250 wpp, which is what Amazon recommends), to 566 pages (at 300 wpp, which is average nonfiction), to 378 pages (at 450 wpp, which is pretty small print on large pages). Given that most nonfiction books clock in around 200-250 pages (at between 300wpp and 450wpp), this is a problem as it might disincline readers, who will think it’s simply too long to read.

So, one option I’ve been kicking around is separating Part 1 from Part 2 and publishing them separately as Volume 1 and Volume 2. This would yield two regular sized books. The problem is that both ways have pros and cons, which I’ve tried to list below (you’re welcome to add to the lists in the comments).

Publishing Together

Pros:

– The reader can start with either the theory or the applications

– One unified volume

– Won’t have to separate out references to missing parts

– Won’t have to edit to disentangle Part 1 and Part 2

– Won’t need new covers

Cons:

– Less $, since selling 1 books vs. 2

– Longer time to completely publish (need to wait between volumes)

– Too long of a book might discourage readers (some people may never read who might have read a shorter book)

– Fewer published books (author’s vanity)

Publishing Separately

Pros:

– Publish 1st book sooner (less time to edit it all)

– More overall $

– Shorter books, easier to read and more likely people will read

– More total books published

– Build reputation for subsequent releases (maybe)

Cons:

– Will need new covers

– Potential continuity issues

– Only get 1 shot to impress readers and people might prefer theory to applications or vice versa (This is my biggest worry)

What do you think of the publishing issue? Realistically, I think that it’s full of good and interesting stuff and everything that’s in it is in it for a reason.

Either way, 2015 was a great year for me and I’m hoping that 2016 will be even better and see the publication of Eros and Ethos.

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“None of That”

by Jason Stotts

Take a look at this very well-done little video. I think it perfectly captures the religious inclination to destroy all that glorifies man in order to appease their resentiment and hatred of human life.

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News and Assorted Articles

by Jason Stotts

1. FDA Overturns 30-year Ban on Blood Donations by Gay Men

Well, sort of…

Yesterday, the FDA decided that gay men (or any men who have sex with men) are allowed to donate blood IF they have not had sex with a man in the last 12 months. I guess this is a step in the right direction, but given that tests can screen out any sort of STI’s (which not only men who have sex with men have, obviously), this is still a pretty thin attack on men who have sex with men.

2. Breasts No Longer Considered ‘Nude’, says AGLC

In Alberta Canada, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)  has ruled that breasts are no longer considered “nude”. Interesting.

3. Playboy’s Science Fiction

Did you know that Playboy magazine has a long history with the science fiction genre? Neither did I. This is a really interesting look at it.

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