About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadPage 0Page 1Page 2Forward one pageLast Page


Post 0

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 3:19amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris, Regi,

I respect both of you gentlemen enormously (of course, I'm secretly in love with Regi :-)!!}and I acknowledge that I haven't been following this debate in great detail, BUT, surely the whole issue of sexual preference rest wholely on the fact that, as long as whatever is practised is consensual and no sort of force or coercian is used in any way, then whatever happens between four walls is no-one elses concern and the rest is just a matter of opinion??  I can't see why this is developing into such an issue.
Cass 




Post 1

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 5:00amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
i think the issue here is not wether homosexual sex is criminally wrong. it clearly isn't, as it violates no one's rights.

the issue is wether or not it will bring happiness to the gay person involved in it.

since objectivism is supposed to have man (and his happiness) as an end in himself, as his primary purpose, the issue of wether or not homosexuality is helpful or harmful to oneself is not unimportant.

regi seems to think it is harmful, because... it's not what he would call the "normal" function of the genitals?

I'm undecided on the issue, since i have no clue, but i disagree with regi that the "normal" function of something is what we should limit ourselves to (especially since he has no apparent standard for calling it the normal function, other than what primitives and other animals use it for).



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 2

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 5:53amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ultimately, Cass, I think there is one issue on which virtually all the participants in this dialogue can agree:  The government has no business regulating adult consensual relationships.  On this issue especially, Regi and I are in complete agreement. 




Post 3

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 8:31amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Cass said:
...whatever happens between four walls is no-one elses concern and the rest is just a matter of opinion??  I can't see why this is developing into such an issue.
Chris responded:
The government has no business regulating adult consensual relationships.  On this issue especially, Regi and I are in complete agreement.
I interpreted Cass as suggesting that "whatever happens between four walls" is none of Regi's business and is just a matter of his opinion.  I didn't interpret her as addressing the legal issue.  If I misunderstood then Cass can state what she meant. 

However, that is my position.  Why is Regi spending so much time and effort in trying to use Objectivism (which he doesn't subscribe to) to prove that a particular behavior (which, I presume, he doesn't participate in) is morally wrong?

If only he would use his gifts for good instead of evil!

Thanks,
Glenn




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 8:41amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
objectivism isn't concerned solely with politics. there are different aspects to it.

there are actions which shouldn't be illegal, but which one should still not do, like giving nazi speaches, or going to church.

something can be wrong without being criminally wrong(a violation of someone's rights is what i'd call criminally wrong). in the case of homosexuality, the only possible victim of the act is oneself, but it could still be wrong, if it serves to reduce your overall happiness.

i haven't read anything that shows that homosexuality is detrimental to one's happiness. Regi tried to show that it's contrary to one's nature, but i don't know what the hell that means, let alone how it's a bad thing.


edit: oops, typo...
(Edited by eli sacks on 9/12, 8:43am)




Post 5

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 8:50amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Glenn,

In your response above, you make quite a bold remark about Regi:

"If only he would use his gifts for good instead of evil!"

As the essence of evil is deception of self and/or others (Peck called it "militant ignorance"), would you please politely back-up what you have to say about Regi with a modicum of material evidence regarding Regi's alleged self-deception or deception of others? That would be awful kind of you.

Thanks in advance.

Ed



Post 6

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 9:27amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris,

Eli has brought forward a point that was touched on in your response:

" ... i disagree with regi that the "normal" function of something is what we should limit ourselves to (especially since he has no apparent standard for calling it the normal function, other than what primitives and other animals use it for)."


I find it imperative to distinguish between the 2 available senses of "normal" here. In fact, I would say that the whole of Regi's argument rests on this distinction. Of these 2 senses, you've had the following to say:
-----------------------
"Rand herself used the term “normal” on occasion; in different contexts, she might mean “average” or “thoroughly conventional” or “natural”  (as in “the nature of things,” akin to Firehammer’s usage).  At one point, however, she actually distinguishes between the “sub-normal” and the “above-normal” individual, arguing that it is the latter who is more deserving of help.  She even protests when somebody characterizes an unconventional or extraordinary person as “a ‘normal individual’? I think he’s much more than that. As you must have guessed,” she explains in her letters, “I am not very enthusiastic about such conceptions as ‘normal’ or ‘average’.”

I think Firehammer wields the term “normal” as a moral sledgehammer:  “Normal means that which is appropriate to the body and its organs, determined by the requirements of their nature, that is, their identity. … Pica is a desire to eat abnormal things, like dirt, ashes, chalk, hair, soap, toothbrushes, burned matches, or coins …”  Well, okay.  But I can’t resist:  Is it “normal” to want to “eat” your partner?  Does this go beyond the “proper use and function” of the tongue and mouth, which are “normally” used for eating food and speaking words?  Forget gay sex!  Is it “normal” for heterosexual couples to want to use their mouths and tongues on each other’s erogenous zones?  Where does “normal” end and “abnormal” begin?

I just don’t think much is achieved by reifying what one person regards as “normal” as if it constitutes the whole of human experience.  Yes, of course, it is anti-life to put poisonous things in one’s mouth."
-----------------------

Chris, what it appears that you done here is to call into question a specific application of the word "normal." Regi has outlined, and staked a claim to, a specific sense of normal (normality of functioning). But you have called his distinction into question. If this power of questioning-the-use-of-a-specific-sense-of-a-word is indeed granted to you, then I have trouble with your apparent turn-around, which follows immediately in the next section of your response - where you outline, and stake claim to, the sense in which you use the word, dialectic:

-----------------------
"It is true that I found it necessary to explain my definition of “dialectics” so as to distinguish it from what others have meant by that term in the history of philosophy.  Why is this so abnormal?  If Rand had operated with “normal” or conventional notions of “selfishness” or “capitalism”— “guilt by association” with images of club-wielding brutes and fascist robber barons, respectively—without carefully distinguishing her own conception from previous ones in intellectual history, she would not have been the revolutionary thinker that she was."
-----------------------

If we are to judge the products of your thought while looking through the observation lens you've defined (in defining "dialectic"), then you must judge the products of Regi's thought while looking through the lens (normality of functioning) that he has defined. This argument will be won - or lost - when a specific justification of an application of the word normal is either ruled-out, or ruled-in.

Perhaps because of my background, it is easy for me to see and distinguish the specific sense of "normal" used by Regi in this context. It is the same sense that the Natural Law advocates use in order to distinguish acts contrary to nature, etc. An example will be illustrative. Here is Maritain talking about "normal" ...

-----------------------
"When I said a moment ago that the natural law of all beings existing in nature is the proper way in which, by reason of the specific nature and specific ends, they should achieve fulness of being in their behavior, this very word should had only a metaphysical meaning (as we say that a good or normal eye "should" be able to read letters on a blackboard from a given distance). The same word should starts to have a moral meaning, that is, to imply moral obligation, when we pass the threshold of the world of free agents."
-----------------------

I see this - the perspective we adopt toward the contextual use of the word "normal" - as the central issue to be debated (am I mistaken?).

Ed



Post 7

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 9:42amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ed,

You said to me:
In your response above, you make quite a bold remark about Regi:

"If only he would use his gifts for good instead of evil!"

As the essence of evil is deception of self and/or others (Peck called it "militant ignorance"), would you please politely back-up what you have to say about Regi with a modicum of material evidence regarding Regi's alleged self-deception or deception of others? That would be awful kind of you.

Thanks in advance.

That sentence is a standard line that has been used over the years in connection with the "evil genius" and has become such a cliche that it is now only intended to be humorous.  At least that's the way I intended it and thought it would be interpreted.  If you or Regi or anyone else took it seriously, please be assured that I did not intend it to be.

On the other hand, I hope the rest of that post is taken seriously.

Thanks,
Glenn




Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Post 8

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 9:36amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Eli writes:

"the issue is wether or not it will bring happiness to the gay person involved in it.

since objectivism is supposed to have man (and his happiness) as an end in himself, as his primary purpose, the issue of wether or not homosexuality is helpful or harmful to oneself is not unimportant."

Eli,thanks for your post, very points you made. I can tell you, that, as a gay man myself, I would be most unhappy going AGAINST my orientation! I did not choose to be gay, and for me to attempt to be a heterosexual would be to go against my nature.

What I think is an even more important question is whether or not it is healthy for a heterosexual to sit around speculating on the psychology of homosexuals, since they do not share our orientation and will never be able to fully experience what goes on in our minds directly. They seem so busy worrying about our psychological health...shouldn't they be selfish and worry about their own? Shouldn't they be breeding or something?

Thomas Szasz points out that homosexuality used to be a criminal offense, until sympathetic psychiatrists decided to think about us poor gays, and labled it a sickness. After decades of criminal charges, electroshock therapy, and broken lives, homosexuality was removed from the illness list. HMMM...
The moral of this story? Please, heterosexuals...if you want to help us,

LET US ALONE!
We don't need that kind of "help."





Post 9

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 11:37amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Glenn,

If only he would use his gifts for good instead of evil!
 
I've tried to reform, but it just does not feel right. I think I was born this way, so its really not my fault.

Regi






Post 10

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:47pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"Eli,thanks for your post, very points you made."


you're welcome :)



Post 11

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Cass,

I had more or less intended not to respond to this thread. I intended to give Chris a free-hand, so to speak, because he deserves it. I have no qualms about his arguments, because he is always both honest and well-reasoned. I am the first to admit, if this issue were cut-n-dry, good minds would not so much disagree on it.

Chris and I have both had fun, while seriously arguing our opposing views, and we are both hoping those on both sides of this issue will see this debate does not have to entail animosity, regardless of the personal and emotional nature of the subject. Chris, at least, has been exemplary in this effort, and I have tried.

It is the last part of your post that has prompted my response. "I can't see why this is developing into such an issue."

The debate over the true nature of homosexuality is not the major issue, it is an example of the larger issue. On this thread, and on the others, that major issue is being lost, or not recognized at all, and I want to state what it is.

The issue is actually human nature itself, particularly volition and the nature of human emotions (including desires, feelings, passions, etc.).

In her introduction to The Passion of Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden wrote concerning the paucity of information about Rand's youth, "There was a second, equally important cause of her silence about her early years: her commitment to the idea that human beings are in no sense inevitably the creatures of their environments; we do not have to be influenced or formed by the people and events around us, she believed; we are free to make choices, to evaluate, to come to our own conclusions. "Man," she wrote, "is a being of self-made soul." It would have seemed to her pointless to talk about her childhood with the implication that its events had something to do with the woman she became; parents, friends, the experiences of youth, all were irrelevant to the being whose spirit and values she had molded."

The central issue is whether or not Ayn Rand's contention that what we are we are by choice is right or whether what we are is determined by something else, such as genetics or early influences. The whole of the homosexual argument is based on the latter. To me, that is a great philosophical mistake.

The second related issue is the matter of desires and feelings. Ayn Rand's contention, with which I agree, is that feelings are non-cognitive. We can know about them, what things cause which feelings, how to appropriately respond to them, and how to use them to fully enjoy our lives, but the feelings themselves provide us no information at all about what is right or wrong or how we ought to react to them beyond the fact that we have them.

Of course, that is also contradicted by the arguments for the normalization of homosexuality, because it includes the argument, one cannot help the desires they have. But if the desires are non-cognitive, it is irrelevant. The question of, well if it does no one any harm, who cares, would be true if the issue was one that did not rest on philosophical principles.

I ride a motorcycle (big 'ole hog). Lots of people hate both motorcycles and those that ride them. While I would never bother arguing about it, if I did, my argument for why I ride a motorcycle would be because I enjoy it and I have chosen to do it, and to me the risk is worth the sense of having so much power in my complete control and at my service for my enjoyment. If homosexuals would argue, the reason they do it is because they enjoy it and they are willing to take the risk, instead of arguing it is their nature, I doubt if there would be any debate at all.

You cannot get to the argument, "it is normal," without getting to the argument, "they are born that way." See Linz' argument on the other thread. That's the issue. If one's behavior is justified by whatever inexplicable feelings they happen to have because they were "born that way," there is no kind of behavior at all that cannot be justified. Ultimately, that view, when reduced to simplest terms is hedonism, hardly Objectivism.

Regi




Post 12

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:58pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ed,

You've said some good things, I think, and intend to get back to you.

For now, just thanks!

Regi




Post 13

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

[Reposted in correct article discussion!]

 

On first glance, I agreed with Ed that Chris and Regi were using the term “normal” differently. Chris, quoting Rand, referring to normal in the sense of “average” or “unexceptional” (e.g. “a man of normal intelligence.”) Regi in the sense of “standard” or “regular,” maybe even “natural” (e.g. “it’s normal for humans to move about on two legs.”) 

 

But then I realized the two uses are integrated. What nature “gives” us is unexceptional.

 

It’s man’s nature to adapt the “standard” or the “regular”, the “natural” for his own gain and happiness. He can take the unexceptional or the average and enhance it to make his life better.

 

Observe how animals mate. It’s functional and quite unexceptional. Observe how humans are capable of making love. It can be a complex, nuanced, conceptual, sublime experience, incorporating the sophisticated “ritual” of courting, romancing, flirting, ad then kissing, foreplay, etc. None of these were intended by nature, these are man’s creations, transforming a functional act of procreation into something much greater.

 

So Regi’s “normal use of sexual organs” has few if any implications. What’s the normal use of our hands? What’s the normal use of our mouths? (Was it “meant” to chew gum or savor fine wine? Forget about oral sex, what about just regular kissing? Is that the normal use of our mouths?) Why adopt a monistic, “intended-by-nature” approach, ruling out creative, new, pleasure-inducing alternatives?

(Edited by Glenn Lamont on 9/12, 5:17pm)




Post 14

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 2:55amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"If homosexuals would argue, the reason they do it is because they enjoy it and they are willing to take the risk, instead of arguing it is their nature, I doubt if there would be any debate at all."


Msr. Firehammer-

What if I agreed with you wholeheartedly that (whatever the developmental complications or nonbinding inherited proclivities of sexual preference), sexual desire *is* at root an expression and consequence of value, something that we might make of as we will... and therefore argued that to the degree we choose to question the sexual aspects of human flourishing, heteronormativity is indefensible?

If sexuality is essentially a matter of values, in the same manner as in art, surely it has the same range of complex and riveting expressions as does the immense spectrum of artistic excellences. Precisely because art is a realm of choice and goal-directed action, there are a great many works of art of the highest quality involving extremely different concretes and rival schools of abstract purpose. Precisely for that reason encourage innovation, dissent from received wisdom, and recognize the broad range of concretes and abstractions in artistic variety. We should do the same with a free agency theory of sex, including the aspect of sexual object known as sexual orientation.

If we had to posit a normative standard for sexual orientation, should we not honor *bi*sexuality, which allows for the possibility of the broadest appreciation of sexual excellence? If sex is, like art, essentially a spiritual experience of values, then will not sexuality demand a cultured appreciation of the broad sexual possibilities developed in both gay and straight subcultures, and others besides? Should we not immediately begin studying rival schools of this sphere of volitional choice, and experience various schools of sensation as we do the schools of art's history? And ultimately should we not synthesize the best that has been thought and said, as respective to our purposes as individuals of different experiences, interests, and talents?

I must say I fully agree with the good Doctor Diabolical Dialectician's, and Joe's, *conclusions*, but I also would endorse (with qualifications) your anti-determinist and philosophical position on sexual preference. But what is really the conclusion of a philosophical approach to sex? I think the least likely result is the survival of the conventional wisdom. If sexual orientation can be altered or learned, why should we not be sexual innovators and develop *new* sexual orientations, or recover the sexual experiences of the pre-Christian world, where a complex and significantly non-procreative or hetero- culture of sexual variety existed side by side with high intellectual culture?

I think the very possibility of bringing sex into the *conscious* realm is a death blow to heteronormativity. Ancient monuments erode in the the brisk blue winds of the intellect. If people can alter and expand their sexual orientation, then the Howard Roarks of sexuality are more dangerous to traditional heterosexual convention than timid gay liberals or neoconservatives. And what, pray tell, would a sexual-voluntarist Howard Roark look like?

If sex is a matter of choice, then the best sexual preference is that which can allow for the greatest human happiness. If sexual desire can be learned, then surely we should strive to acquire a broad and critical education. Let us have spirited debates for the value of different sexualities! Let us write treatises advocating sexual theses. Let us promote a literature of sexual criticism and make theory of sexuality a branch of axiology next to ethics and aesthetics. I think the issue would very quickly move from "cures to heterosexuality to the real question demanded of an active philosophical approach to sexuality: "can *straights* change?"

I take your challenge. Let's *have* a debate on sexuality as as a volitional choice... and follow the argument wherever it leads. I am not afraid of facing down heteronormativity in the free market of ideas. How long do you think the heterosexual established church would stand up to the light of critical reason?

Saepere Aude.
(Knowledge is Power)

Jeanie Ring

"It's cold comfort
for the ones without it...
to know, how they struggled,
how they suffered about it.

If their lives were exotic and strange...
they would likely have gladly exchanged them
for something, a little more plain;
maybe something, a little more sane...
We each pay a fabulous Price
for our visions of paradise
but the Spirit...
of a Vision...
is a Dream..."
- Rush, 'Mission'




Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 15

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 5:21amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
A few observations in response. 

Regi said: 

Chris and I have both had fun, while seriously arguing our opposing views, and we are both hoping those on both sides of this issue will see this debate does not have to entail animosity, regardless of the personal and emotional nature of the subject. Chris, at least, has been exemplary in this effort, and I have tried.

Well, Regi, I think you've been terrific too.  And this is extremely important to me.  Over the years, I have seen countless discussions of this topic across many forums.  I don't think I remember one that has been so... civil.  I do understand why people get deeply upset over the charges and countercharges that are made.  But the discussion does not have to be that way.  I suspect I'd have a very different attitude if the people on SOLO HQ were in favor of criminalizing certain sexual activities.  Morality---and manners---end where a gun begins.

As Rand said in For the New Intellectual:  "If men of good will wish to come together for the purpose of upholding reason and establishing a rational society, they should begin by following the example of the cowboys in Western movies when the sheriff tells them at the door to a conference room: 'Gentlemen, leave your guns outside.' "   Amen.

Understand that this is not a totally moot issue; governments across the globe continue to criminalize all sorts of personal and private activities that are none of their business.

Now, I suspect Glenn F. is right that Cass meant that it was none of Regi's business either.  I don't want to speak for Regi, but I think that despite his negative assessment of homosexuality, he, himself, would argue that, ultimately, it is none of his business. 

The problem, however, is that it becomes everybody's business if we accept the argument that homosexuality is "abnormal."  On an Objectivist-oriented forum, I should think everybody would know why:  life, Rand said, is the standard of moral values; "that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil."

So, here's where the issue of the "normal" (Ed's point) becomes a bit fuzzy to me.  I remarked parenthetically in the article that I understood Regi's use of the word to mean in "the nature of things."  The problem is that I think there is a very fine line in the way in which that word is used.  If one adheres to the belief that sexual orientation is strictly a product of volition, that men and women must choose the sexual values to sustain their lives as rational beings, and that "normal" choices are thereby healthy, and good, it follows that "abnormal" ones are unhealthy (Regi provides a litany of statistics to attempt to prove this point).  And if life is the standard of moral values, then "abnormal" choices are anti-life and, thereby, evil.

That's why I believe that this identification of the "normal" can become a moral sledgehammer. So, it's not that I'm calling into question the use of the word normal as "in the nature of things."  I'm calling into question the strict application of that word to the realm of sexuality.  Now, I'll grant that if it is proper to question "the-use-of-a-specific-sense-of-a-word" in the case of the "normal," all bets are off in my use of the word "dialectic."  But I go out of my way to explain what I mean and what I don't mean.  The problem with the word "normal" as used by Regi, and as filtered through an objective standard of morality, is that it seems to have implications for the morality of those who are "abnormal."

Now, I know that Regi says it doesn't.  For example, he writes here in another thread:



Can a homosexual change? Honestly, James, I doubt very much someone who has been a homosexual for very long will change, because they are probably never going to reach that place in their life where they want to. Even if that should happen (and it has) the reinforcement of those particular habitualized behaviors is so strong, and changing them so difficult and painful, I must honestly say, I think there is little possibility of change, except under some extraordinary circumstances.

Does that let those homosexuals who have decided it is not an appropriate practice "off the hook" morally, I mean, if they cannot change. Yes, I think it does in this sense. We are morally responsible only for what we know and what we can do. I think it would be wrong for the homosexual to attempt to pass-off his behavior as, "normal," but it is not immoral. And, of course, the homosexual must take all the ordinary precautions in sex to insure no one, including himself, is harmed.


I'm not doubting Regi's sincerity here.  Obviously, he has a much more complex and nuanced view of the tenacity of sexual habits.  But I don't see how one avoids the judgment that the abnormal is the immoral if one adopts Regi's approach.  And on an Objectivist forum, I don't see how one avoids the implication that Objectivism, as defined by Regi, is anti-homosexual.  (Of course, I've challenged that identification, but that's what started this whole debate!)

So, Ed, I'll accept that it is important to acknowledge "when a specific justification of an application of the word normal is either ruled-out, or ruled-in."  My point is that once you accept Regi's specific metaphysical use it has ethical implications as well.  And how could it not, if one understands the connection between the metaphysical and the moral in Objectivism?

BTW, I do think Glenn L. raises some very fine points in this regard as well.

I must confess that I don't see what the hullabaloo is all about.  I have no clue where sexual orientation comes from.  In general, I agree with those who see "sexualities" (plural) rather than a monolithic homo- or hetero- or even bi-sexuality (these are modern constructions that would have been alien to many ancient cultures, including the Greek, upon which so much of our philosophical edifice is built).  I suspect that there is a constellation of many factors at work, in shifting variations over time among individuals, and that these factors include genetics, biology, environmental and situational conditions, and, yes, choice.  Whatever specific mix is manifested in any particular person's life, I think the only area where morality comes into question is in the way in which we live our lives (living authentically, with honesty, integrity, independence, etc.), not who we are or what we feel.

Ayn Rand spoke of love as a response to values; Nathaniel Branden spoke of the unique functions of psychological visibility and of the connections between self-esteem and romantic love.  I see no reason why the more general, exalted view of love presented by Rand and Branden cannot apply with equal dignity to those who seek such love among members of their own sex.

Cheers,
Chris

(Edited by sciabarra on 9/13, 5:53am)




Post 16

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 7:08amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Jeanine,

First let me say how much I enjoyed you interesting essay. You have brought interesting ideas to the table, which I enjoyed very much.

I have only a couple of comments.

You said: "If sex is a matter of choice, then the best sexual preference is that which can allow for the greatest human happiness."

Of course. My whole argument is that homosexuality will not bring the greatest human happiness. If it would, I would not only endorse it, but promote it over heterosexuality. Obviously those who argue that homosexuality is good believe it does, at least for them, bring the greatest human happiness. I do not believe it, but I do not even believe in attempting to argue them out of their position. My argument is that philosophically, the normalization of homosexuality is untenable, not that those who disagree with my argument must adopt it.

Now a word about sex. Your comparison of sex to art was very interesting, but I think misplaced. I often compare sex to eating. Of course Jennifer Iannolo will stamp her foot and call me mean Italian names for suggesting eating is not art (which in her capable hands it no doubt is), but even the least artistic among us eat.

I make the comparison for two reasons. One is the idea of variety. Obviously, the variety of things we can eat is endless, and even the manner in which we eat them, some we drink, some we chew, some we swallow whole, is quite varied. But there are limits to what we can eat and how we can eat them. Some things are poisonous, others have detrimental effects over the long term, and we cannot just consume as much as we want of just anything, like alcohol or foods that contribute to obesity. And we do not consider just any means of getting food into our stomachs normal, like a feeding tube in the nose or injected directly into the stomach.

The thing that determines what we can eat, and how we eat them and what the normal ways of eating are is our nature. If we had a different nature, we would eat different things and in a different manner. Still, within the scope of human eating, the variety is almost endless. My argument about sex is that it is like eating in this sense, there is an endless variety of ways it may be enjoyed, but there are limits, just as in eating, to what practices are normal and will not be harmful, and which are not normal and will be harmful, and it is our natures that determine them.

The other comparison I make is about the difference between sex and eating. It is not possible for an individual to live without eating. It is quite possible for an individual to live without having sex. In our day, people talk about sex as though it were a matter of life and death. It isn't. Many people cannot have sex of any kind and live completely successful enjoyable lives.

Of course there is no suggestion here that this handicap is a good one. It is like any other uncritical abnormality like a missing limb, or eye, or partial paralysis. Just as they can live without sex, people can live completely successful enjoyable lives with these handicaps, which are even more serious than not being able to have sex, because arms and legs and eyes are all needed in the process of producing, and except for, "reproduction," sex only serves the purpose of the reward of pleasure, which is important for ones own enjoyment of life, but not critical, and certainly not a necessity.

Todays exaggerated overblown view of sex, as though it were the sole purpose of life, is at once absurd and revealing. With all the sex education we've had, and all the open discussion, and research, and writing that has been done about sex over the last fifty years, most people have more sexual problems than ever, and more people ruin their lives over this simple pleasure than almost anything else.

So, I would not be interested in a debate about sex. What's the point? Except for the medical aspects, most adults have learned all they need to know to fully enjoy their sex lives by the time they are twenty. Of course there are a great many people who do not, but those same people cannot figure out the best way to use their toilet either. Debating about sex will not help those people figure how what to do with their sex lives any more than debating toilet habits will help them figure out how to use their toilet.

Regi




Post 17

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:01amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Mr. Sciabarra,

As always, your response to Regi was articulate and very well stated. I continue to be impressed with your command of language and debating skills. Well done!

George




Post 18

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 2:32amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Regi, Glenn, Chris;

Firstly, may I clarify what I meant in my first post here: it was that I do not believe that what uncoerced activities people choose to indulge in in private is anyones business but their own - that is everyone including the law, but not restrained to it.

Regi, thankyou for your long and in depth reply.  I do understand now what it is you are "getting at" - and to the extent that it is a perspective on the philosophy and your perception of its "use and abuse", I agree with you.  I have to say, and I think this will become apparant from writings I will post in the future, I do have considerable problems with the tendancy  to use very open interpretative concepts with which to view Objectivisms' appropriate application.  The one brilliant guiding light of Ayn Rands original writings of her philosophy for me was that it was all grounded in and derived from clearly observable provable realities - it was derived from the Biological facts of the kind of entity humans are. Whenever I have a philosophical problem to solve, it is from those first grounding concepts of Objectivism that I start.

Also, I do see that you are wrestling with the concept of whether homosexuality or indeed any character/ personality / sexuality traits are genetic or 100% volitional and therefor freely chosen. I have never seen any sort of good solid evidence to support either, and for me the jury is still out, with two exceptions. 

One is that at the time I spent in two Australian universities I had to become somewhat closer that I would like with the feminism issue, and I did see women - in two cases who had been in very happy heterosexual relationships, "become" lesbians because they perceived it to be more politically correct in terms of their feminism, ie man-hating philosophy.
In one case, as the woman grew away from feminism she went "back" to a heterosexual relationship. I have observed this to happen quite a bit among certain women, and their homosexual behaviour is very much a matter of choice.
In the matter of whether character traits are inherited or otherwise, {sometimes called the "nature v nurture" debate} I was always of the opinion that as no gene for such non-physical or personality characteristics has been found, then no such characteristics are inherited. 
However, I have been very close to a situation which caused me to question that thought. I thought that if a childs' father was a bastard, but the child were brought up away from the father and given the best of childhoods he would turn out to be different person. I was wrong!!  I was able to watch identical character traits to the father developing over the years - and there was no way they were being copied. It has left me with the thought now that perhaps some non-physical personality attributes are genetic - although it is not a thought I'm very happy about!!. 
Cass 




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 19

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 8:12amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Cass wrote
In the matter of whether character traits are inherited or otherwise, {sometimes called the "nature v nurture" debate} I was always of the opinion that as no gene for such non-physical or personality characteristics has been found, then no such characteristics are inherited. 
Since there are still thousands of human genes for which we don't know their functions at all, I don't think we can rule out the possibilities that at least some non-physical traits are genetical.




Post to this threadPage 0Page 1Page 2Forward one pageLast Page
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.