If you’ve been reading Erosophia for a while now, you know I’m working on my first nonfiction book currently titled: Eros and Ethos: The Ethics of Modern Sex. It has been going painstakingly slow for quite some time, but I’m happy to announce that the speed of writing has improved and great strides are being made now! Not only that, but Part 1, the first part that contains the primary theory of Eros and Ethos, is now complete in early draft! It’s 110 single spaced pages and 58,000 words. Seeing it all together was such a thrill for me. Now that the book is really taking shape and writing is going much faster, I’m really thrilled with things and can’t wait to get a complete draft so I can go and start editing and bringing things together really tightly. At the rate I’m going now, I hope to be completely done in a year. Perhaps even sooner if I can really push myself.
I hope you guys are as excited about this as I am!
Incidentally, if you are part of the admissions committee in a PhD program in philosophy…feel free to drop me a line. Or the Kinsey Institute, which would be awesome. Or a joint PhD in philosophy at IU with work at Kinsey. Dream spot.
I made the decisions today that I will not be speaking at ATLOSCon this year. Let me say only that it is not an issue of personal animosity between myself and the organizers, nor is it that I have some sort of issue with the conference itself. ATLOSCon is a great conference and I do recommend that people check it out.
My friend Marc Baer asked me to post an announcement of a new organization he is starting with Bach Ho. I am doing so here purely for informational reasons and not as an endorsement: I have not read all of their claims yet or had a chance to evaluate them. On the other hand, the more people out there providing high level training in Objectivism, the better.
“Marc Baer and Bach Van Ho would like to make the following announcement:
Due to the lack of an organized and serious effort at professional training of Objectivist intellectuals, we will be forming a new non-profit organization to address just this need.
Marc Baer earned his B.A. in philosophy from UCLA (1994), studied philosophy at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (1996-99), and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine (2002, 2006). He studied philosophy at the Ayn Rand Institute for many years, taking Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s undergraduate seminar in 1991 and the first undergraduate course on Peikoff’s Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, in 1994-95, as well as graduate courses with Dr. Harry Binswanger from 1995-2006. In 2006, he completed the Institute’s graduate program. He was an Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship fellow at the University of Texas, Austin, in 2005. He has taught philosophy at: the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the University of California, Irvine; California State University, Long Beach; Concordia College (Bronxville, NY); and Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa, CA). He is a referee for the academic philosophy journal The Journal of Value Inquiry. He lives in Orange County, CA.
Bach Van Ho earned his B.S. in Information and Computer Sciences, with honors and cum laude, from the University of California, Irvine (2004), and his M.A. in philosophy from Arizona State University (2007). He won the Ayn Rand Institute’s 2002 AtlasShrugged essay contest, graduated from ARI’s Objectivist Academic Center undergraduate program (2007), and studied in the graduate program until ARI closed it in 2009. From 2007 to the present, he has been enrolled in the doctoral program in philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate; his dissertation argues for the individual’s life as the source of moral values. He teaches contemporary moral issues, medical ethics, and environmental ethics at California State University, Fullerton. Mr. Ho lives in Orange County, CA.”
Apparently during the Super Bowl (I say apparently because I don’t care about sports and didn’t watch it) there was a commercial for Atheism:
[UPDATE - apparently this was a video for scientology (another nonsense religon) that someone edited to be for atheism.]
I think it’s great that religion is losing it’s grip on people and fading away. I sincerely think that faith is the single most evil thing ever thought by humans.
Another example of the fading away of religion is “Atheist Churches” that attempt to salvage the good parts of organized religion with the irrationality of religion. There is a great value in gathering together in friendly groups to enjoy each other’s company, to learn and think with each other, and to experience a sense of community and belonging. After all, we are, as Aristotle says, political animals (he means “social”).
Although I applaud these efforts, one major problem still remains: atheism is the lack of a belief. As I argue in “The Irrationality of Atheism,” being an “atheist” just means you don’t believe in a god. It is not itself a belief. The problem with this, as I argue in “Shattered Illusions,” is that atheism is a cognitive void. People can’t just lack beliefs, they need to believe in something. This is one reason why when we, as Objectivists, argue against religion, we must do so in a positive way that replaces that anti-life ideas of religion with pro-life ideas and values that will help people live good and happy lives. This point can’t be stressed too much and is the same point I made in “Inspirational Philosophy“:
If we don’t take a positive tack, if we don’t take the moral high-ground and argue on moral terms, if we merely attack and never build, then we lose. In order to win, to truly win, an argument or a culture, you must present positive reasons why your course of action is the better one, how it is the moral one, and give people something to believe in and to fight for.
In order to win the world, you must give people a morality worth living for: you must help them find meaning.
Ultimately, I’m glad “atheism” is growing, but we need to exploit this while it’s happening and show people that they can still have moral and meaningful lives without religion and its antiquated morality.
I was recently interviewed by the Radically Candid Podcast team on all sorts of topics in sexuality. If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred, uncensored, whirlwind tour of my sexual theory, this is the interview for you! (LINK)
Radically Candid scrapes dangerously close to legitimacy as we welcome Jason Stotts, philosopher and blogger at Erosophia, who raises both the guestitude and intellectual value of the podcast far beyond previous levels. We kick off with one of history’s most trite interview questions – what are Jason’s highest performing search keywords? – and that takes us right to the topic of pegging. So our listeners can be reassured that we don’t stray far from the usual tenor of the podcast.
The bulk of part one of our discussion with Jason centers on concepts of masculinity and femininity – what Jason called the “sexual essences” – and of what these concepts actually consist.
Ayn Rand’s books are full of depictions of sexuality that are well outside the norm. These depictions range from general BDSM, to extreme dominance and submission, and even to consensual non-consent. The question then, is whether these alternative sexualities can be compatible with a rich conception of a good life as advocated by Ayn Rand. This essay will analyse these issues in depth and argue that they very much can be compatible with a good life and in some cases are even necessary for a good life.
It can also be purchased directly from me for $8.00 for a pdf version by emailing me at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com or using the donate button to the right (if you do this, put a note with the email you want the essay send to) if you don’t want to go through Amazon. The price will be the same until the first of the year, then it will be $9.99.
I’m also offering a free copy to someone who can help me make a decent looking cover for it. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy, just look nice and have all the relevant info.
For a little preview, here’s the introduction:
When I was first reading Ayn Rand’s fiction, one thing that struck me was that there seemed to be a number of instances of BDSM type sex. For those who don’t know, BDSM stands for Bondage/Disciple, Domination/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism or B/D,D/S,S/M, if you omit the repeated letters, you get BDSM. While not every story of hers has this, many do: there are unambiguous instances in The Night of January 16th, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. When I first read these scenes, years ago, I was rather shocked at the violence that was involved with the sex. It seemed as though the things that the characters were doing could only be painful and that no rational person could desire these things. Certainly, the kind of person who could do these things had to be morally corrupt.
It has been some time since I first read these and in that time sex has become something of my area of expertise. This, however, raises more questions in my mind than I even knew how to ask before. For example, I now I understand that Ayn Rand thought that, at least in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the violence flowed naturally from the context of the story: the culmination of a long and arduous struggle could hardly be celebrated with dispassionate sex. However, the burning platinum dress from The Night of January 16th is not an instance of build up, since they do it years after they’ve been together, so at least not all of the BDSM type sex can be explained away as a simple literary device. Furthermore, even the BDSM that is used as a literary device raises some questions: it’s definitely not clear that someone with no experience of, or desire for, BDSM type sex would be able to come up with something like the burning platinum dress from The Night of January 16th.
If you didn’t already understand that sometimes pain can be pleasurable, you certainly wouldn’t write that kind of psychology into your protagonists. Now, whether this means that Ayn Rand was kinky herself is not my question here. While I do think it’s true that an author often reveals himself through his writing, I think it’s generally ill advised to speculate too strongly based on weak evidence. Instead, I want to look at instances of this BDSM type sex, or kinky sex, and try to understand why a person would desire this and why Ayn Rand might have included it in her most important fictional works. After which, I want to ask the more fundamental question: can one incorporate alternative sexualities like kink or homosexuality into a rich conception of a good life like Objectivism advocates?
A friend of mine is an independent film maker and is looking for funding for his next movie. Check out the link and show him some love if it sounds interesting:
Filmmaker Stewart Wade (Margolis), who previously challenged ideas about sexual identity in “Coffee Date” and “Tru Loved” is working on a new independent feature called “Such Good People.” Starring Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty” and the new “Partners” on CBS) and Randy Harrison (“Queer as Folk”), the movie also features Sandra Bernhard, Lance Bass, Jon Polito, Alec Mapa, Bree Turner, and Drew Droege. It’s a fun screwball comedy like they used to make in the 1930′s — but with a twist. The couple at the center of the zany action is two men, rather than a man and a woman.
I think it’s great the the movie will feature a gay couple, but that that won’t be the focus of the movie, that being gay will be treated as just something normal about the couple. To me, that seems like the next step in the progression of making homosexuality something normal and not aberrant.