Saturday, September 22, 2007

Casual Sex

I thank all the people who took time to comment about my question regarding casual sex. I think most of the contention and confusion in the comments arose from interpreting the hypothetical situation, which I an now sorry I brought up. One has to assume an average context to a hypothetical. If one starts dreaming up wild scenarios like, "Okay, say it's the last day of this guy's life..." then one defeats the purpose of the hypothetical. But still, there are too many variables to make that hypothetical question useful.

I have some uncertainty about casual sex, which is why I asked the question. My tentative answer is most like the fourth commenter, Anonymous, who brought up the virtue of pride. Promiscuity shows a lack of pride. Before the rise of the egalitarian New Left, discriminating was understood as a virtue. A discriminating man does not sleep with any slut who will say yes after 10 seconds of conversation.

To understand a lack of pride as immorality, one must get rid of every vestige of Christian or traditional morality, for they hold humility as a virtue. I think even some Objectivists struggle with the idea that lacking pride is immoral. Remember, morality is not primarily about what you do to other people, but about how you should deal with reality. Pride is a virtue because it means you strive to live as well as you can.

Sex between a man and a woman involves the woman submitting to the man. The man pursues the woman, wins the woman, conquers the woman, takes the woman and other verbs that make romantic love sound like a battlefield. The man penetrates and the woman is penetrated. If a woman submits too easily, then the victory is not as satisfying.

But I also sympathize with Tom Rowland's position. Casual sex might be inferior and not as satisfying as romantic love sex, and certainly a habit of casual sex -- promiscuity -- is wrong, but is occasional casual sex always wrong? I can't say that it is.

Don't tell me my position is like "If I only rob banks on Tuesday, then I'm still moral." Casual sex is not a crime. A better analogy would be, "I know that great art offers the more enriching, soul-satisfying experience, but sometimes I like to watch detective shows on TV." Or "I enjoy fine dining, but sometimes I only have time and money for McDonald's."

I think those of us who are not religious still have to watch for remnants of puritan hatred of sex in our thinking. Sex is a good thing. With a serious, committed romantic partner it is great; with anyone less serious it can still be pretty good.

Those are my thoughts. I am open to persuasion if I am wrong.

48 comments:

madmax said...

"I think those of us who are not religious still have to watch for remnants of puritan hatred of sex in our thinking."

I agree with this. On Objectivist forums I have encountered many young Objectivsts who approach sex in what I would describe as a puritanical way. For example, you constantly hear that if you sleep with a woman that does not represent your highest values then you are immoral. I think that is rationalism.

"Sex is a good thing. With a serious, committed romantic partner it is great; with anyone less serious it can still be pretty good."

Well said. Besides, didn't Ayn Rand herself say that casual sex could be proper in the right context?

Inspector said...

I like how you put that, Myrhaf. It is certainly about Pride.

"Sex is a good thing. With a serious, committed romantic partner it is great; with anyone less serious it can still be pretty good."

I agree with this, which is not to say that there are not reasons why a man might have higher standards for himself in a lot of contexts - especially, in pursuit of that true romance.

I only have one point of dispute:

Note that there is a world of difference between "less than one's totally ideal romance" and "casual."

I see a lot of accusations of "puritan" thrown around on forums, but mostly they are not directed at people who actually resemble that religion. For the most part, that word is bandied because the New Left has so thoroughly destroyed standards that anyone who displays them is thought to be puritanical.

The idea that once you deviate from the top value, that it may as well be casual and "anything goes;" THAT is the remnant of puritanical thinking. So if anything, I think sympathizing with Tom's position more represents puritanical thinking than anything that has been mentioned so far.

Non-puritanical thinking does not require the endorsement of or sympathy with promiscuous casual sex. And no, apart from weird scenarios like if the aliens land and force us to breed, there is no such thing as non-promiscuous casual sex.

Myrhaf said...

Well, Inspector, so far I've disagreed with you on tipping, hunting and f**king. There's probably a joke in there somewhere.

Inspector said...

Heh.

Which part do you disagree with?

This:

there is a world of difference between "less than one's totally ideal romance" and "casual."

This:

For the most part, ["puritan"] is bandied because the New Left has so thoroughly destroyed standards that anyone who displays them is thought to be puritanical.

This:

The idea that once you deviate from the top value, that it may as well be casual and "anything goes;" THAT is the remnant of puritanical thinking.

This:

Non-puritanical thinking does not require the endorsement of or sympathy with promiscuous casual sex.

Or this:

And no, apart from weird scenarios like if the aliens land and force us to breed, there is no such thing as non-promiscuous casual sex.


?

Because I haven't really stated the major part of my disagreement with you - not enough to say that we "disagree" on the whole. I actually kind of missed it. (oops)

This is the point that I take exception to:

"A better analogy would be, "I know that great art offers the more enriching, soul-satisfying experience, but sometimes I like to watch detective shows on TV." Or "I enjoy fine dining, but sometimes I only have time and money for McDonald's.""

One's choice of sexual standards is not comparable to one's culinary standards. The food does not choose you (except perhaps in the Soviet Union) or judge you on your culinary standards and you do not select food based on its moral worth. Your romantic partner, however, can and ought to evaluate you on your sexual standards. What kind of woman would be interested in a man who "eats at the McDonald's," sexually speaking, when nothing else is in easy reach for the immediate moment? What does that say about the esteem he places sex in? And what would you think of a woman who is willing to stoop to such levels as to treat sex as casually as satisfying a hunger urge or scratching an itch? Would you think she is sharing something special with you or that you are just one more in a long line of meaningless, standardless promiscuity?

Such a debased (literally!) attitude eliminates even the possibility of ideal romance. Psychologically and existentially. This is not a matter of merely going for the best available, as in food. It is a matter of lowering one's standards for, and esteem of, sex.

That is why, even if you must give up on true romance and lower your standards - which is not immoral; merely unfortunate - I should hope that you never lower them to the level that it could be considered anything as disgusting as "casual."

You can always say that something isn't blanketly, commandment-style immoral; this is obvious from the contextual nature of the Objectivist ethics. But it would be a mistake to say that this justifies "casual" sex, even occasionally, outside of the wildest exceptional circumstances.

In fact, I can't even imagine it, for a rational man who esteems sex. I can't picture such a man engaging in sex "casually." Even if his standards were lowered to the level of mere "looks," there would still be nothing casual about it. He would still take it, as well as his (albeit limited) choice of partner quite seriously.

Further, it would be a decision he would make rather gravely, as it would mean that he was denied one of life's great joys - and his enjoyment, which should have a been profound one, will instead be nothing more than a physical act - a going through the motions, really. And that is if the woman, who he presumably has no respect for outside of looks, can keep her mouth shut long enough that he does not shrivel (literally) in disgust.

Such a life - where that is the best possible to a man - is so tragic for me to contemplate that it is difficult to have this kind of discussion. No, I will not say that a man in that circumstance is immoral.

But someone who reduces himself to that - on purpose, with relish and a wink, simply because that is the best he can or wants to do in the range of the moment - that is not only immoral, it is disgusting. I both pity and am revolted by those who know not what they do. And I have a slew of four-letter words for anyone who thinks that makes me a goddamn puritan puke. I spit on that idea.

I don't know, Myrhaf. Perhaps we have very different ideas of how casual "casual" is. What I picture is no specter or speculation - it is out there in the culture practically everywhere you look.

Tom Rowland said...

It turns out that I have quite a bit to say on this and I hope I can find the words to express it clearly. Since this issue comes up in writing fiction, I'll be posting it at A Writer's Way. I touched on this issue in my post Remembering Frank O'Connor. Another very good piece is The Unselfish Objectivist by Don Watkins. It's at Noodlefood.

Inspector, I think what you see in the culture is vulgarity, not casual sex. And I have this question for you: is it sex we want to approach with a "breathless reverence for a sublime greatness" or is it the woman we are making love with? Indeed, is there no room for an action movie of the soul?

Take it from a 64 year old man you has made love to a few woman, sex is not always -- even with one's life partner soul mate -- a scene out of an Ayn Rand novel. Sometime's, praise Galt, it's "just" fun.

Myrhaf said...

I define casual sex as sex with someone with whom you have no intention of forging a lasting relationship.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

From a practical point of view: there's no such thing as completely "safe sex" with someone you haven't known for a while and "safe sex" is pretty sterile and unsatisfying. I lost 14 friends to AIDS in the first 3 years of the plague. Casual sex with strangers is not worth the risk.

Inspector said...

Oh, lord, Myrhaf, that is a totally different use of the word.

I define casual in this context as, "with no more interest or consideration than one might give to scratching an itch." That is, without concern for any but the most superficial of values such as mere appearance alone.

There's a quote, from the Journals, it goes like this:

"I am a little shocked at your supposing that Roark would "indulge commercially." How could he? His whole nature is in the fact that he has a tremendous reverence for himself. That means—for anything pertaining to his life, actions and personality. And since sex is a most personal, most important matter, how could he degrade himself with a woman he despised? He would consider it a degradation. It is Keating and Toohey, in the book, who were cheap and promiscuous about their love lives. Incidentally, so it is in real life too. A person betrays his own valuation of himself in his attitude on sex. If the attitude is cheap and sloppy, the person has no real self-respect, whether he knows it or not. He usually does know it. As to Roark, I can imagine him having other mistresses, beside Dominique, but they would have to be very high types of women and his relation to them would never be casual. Since he could not find many such women, he simply didn't care—and didn't have time to care."

As I said, there is a world of difference between simply settling for less than one's ideal and degrading oneself to the level of "casual."

Inspector said...

Tom,

I agree with you in principle that life does not always offer the ideal (and I don't mean just in the immediate moment) and as I said, it is not immoral if a man decides he must settle - merely unfortunate.

I don't know who you are used to dealing with on this kind of discussion. I do believe you that there are "puritans" of Objectivism out there and probably you've seen your share. I am not that, however, as I hope the above illustrates.

But you take it too far. If a man has reverence for himself and for sex, there is a level below which he loses more than he would gain from the endeavor. And the man in Myrhaf's example, selecting on looks alone with no concern for character, is definitely below this line.

Tom Rowland said...

Inspector,

My argument is not with people who think that we ought to take sex seriously, it is with the idea that there is anything in this mans actions that indicates that he is not doing so, any more than there is in laughing at a blue joke. I'll be filling this out in my blog piece.

Tom Rowland said...

Wait, there's more.

I didn't read in its entirety your post above the one you wrote to me. In it you quote Rand re: casual. She used the same word in her interview in Playboy. I believe there is a difference in the way she is using the word hich you and Myrhaf have already caught. More on my blog.

Ergo said...

Context is certainly everything. And a point to remember is, one should not try to justify an action to a moral level beyond what it actually is.

By that I mean, casual sex must not be defended as perfectly okay (as hedonists do).

Having said that, I hold that casual sex (as Myrhaf defined it, i.e., sex with a person you have no intention of forging a romantic relationship with) is morally permissible within that person's context.

Rand was properly against the justification of all sex as permissible (hedonism) and of all sex as degrading (religious moralism).

No one is denying that sex with one's soul-mate is the best expression of one's values. However, casual sex (as defined above) is not immoral by default.

My personal context as a gay man living in India might shed some light on this discussion. In my recent post titled "Being gay in India", I conclude with the following:

"I have yet to encounter a gay man in India who can even mildly captivate my interest. The slightly more interesting and psychologically healthier ones are mostly expats who don’t intend to stay in this country for too long. Further, being that I am an Objectivist–which means that I hold strong, radical, and unyeildingly rational principles with an intense passion–and an atheist, the likelihood of me finding a partner who can be my intellectual companion as well as be worthy of being “my highest value and the object of my passionate worship” is most certainly non-existant."

Given the above, I do indulge in casual sex with men I find attractive but have zero interest in purusing a relationship with.

It would be hypocritical on my part--and a colossal waste of time and energy--to pretend to pursue a relationship with someone I know I could never hold up as the object of my admiration, a reflection of my deepest values, an equal of moral worth, only so that I can rationalize my having sex with him. That is a worse immorality than having casual--but honest--sex.

So long as I realize that my casual sex is less than ideal and I do not let casual sex lead to wanton sexual promiscuity (which is what Rand railed against when she spoke of discrimination), my sexual behavior is not immoral given my context.

However, were I not in such an irrational culture, perhaps given a change in context, my acts would then become immoral.

For someone to preach celibacy to me at this point in my life with knowledge of my context is a terrible rationalizer, and yes, a dogmatist. He might as well worship at the altar of Randism.

http://ergosum.wordpress.com/2007/08/31/being-gay-in-india/

Inspector said...

"I believe there is a difference in the way she is using the word [w]hich you and Myrhaf have already caught. More on my blog."

I'll only caution everyone that it is a bad, and destructive, misuse of the term "casual sex" to refer simply to any sex in which there is not an intention of a long-term relationship. This is not what the term means, not how Ayn Rand used it, and when you put out phrases like "casual sex is okay," this will be interpreted as an endorsement of New Left Hippie Hedonistic depravity.

Anyhow, Tom, I'll watch for your writing on the example, but I'm perplexed by your conclusion about the man in the example, since Myhaf has confirmed that yes, the example was meant to say that the man was indeed seeking sex with strangers with no discrimination or concern for any other value than appearance. (and it was not meant as some kind of one-month-to-live thing)

Ergo said...

Inspector, I'm honestly not able to understand your objection to the term "casual sex" and the definition Myrhaf provided. That's quite a reasonable definition: casual sex is opposed to serious or committed sex--the former is with people you are not serious about or committed with and the latter is with people you are.

What you seem to be against is promiscuous sex, or lasciviousness, or sexual hedonism, or debauchery, or something like that. And I'm confident that we all agree on the fact that these are immoral.

Casual sex--the way we have used th term--is quite a common understanding. Maybe you could repeat or clarify your objection one more time.

Inspector said...

"Casual" is the opposite of "serious," and no matter what one's plans for long term relationships, one should always take one's sexual choices seriously.

The correct, as well as the common, usage of this term means most definitely that one is not. I do not know of any common understanding that uses it in your way, and suggest that you check that premise. What are the people who you hear using the term really endorsing?

Just take Tom as an example. He used it, and he morally endorses the man in Myrhaf's example who - in Myrhaf's words: "sleep[s] with any slut who will say yes after 10 seconds of conversation."

As I said, Ayn Rand condemned "casual sex" quite clearly. She knew her definitions quite well and was famously careful about how she said what she said.

By openly endorsing "casual sex," you are - whether you intend it or not - feeding the filth. Which is something that I cannot stand; I find your and Myrhaf's posts here quite upsetting for that reason. I have to remind myself that this is not what you mean, but this is still very stressful. I am not kidding around here... stop it. I implore you.

They know what this term means.

Ergo said...

Ah. So I am right. You are agreeing with us that promiscuous sex, or lasciviousness, or sexual hedonism, or debauchery is immoral, and that is what you are railng against; you are terribly concerned about the use of the word "casual" by us because of its obviously immoral (and loose) connotations to some people.

Fine. So, given the definition Myrhaf provided, what word would you prefer be used to refer to the specific kind of sexual act indicated by that definition. Note, this sexual act is *not* immoral--albeit nowhere close to ideal--because of reasons already outlined in my previous comments.

Also, since your argument against the word "casual" is because of its loose connotations, the word you propose to use must at least to some extent be unambiguous in connotation.

Inspector said...

Ergo,

"So I am right."

Yes, what you said is an accurate description of my position, although I would point out that within certain contexts sex absent the intent of a long term relationship could be immoral. It is neither necessarily moral nor necessarily immoral, it would depend.

I do disagree, however, that promiscuity is merely connotated by the term. It is in fact denotated by the term. It is what the term refers to.

Perhaps, as a first guess at a proper term, I would posit: "serious love affair" or "romantic love affair." But if you want to be perfectly clear - and clarity is much more important in this kind of thing than brevity - I would suggest you fully enunciate what you mean: "sex where one is still serious about the high value of one's partner but is not necessarily seeking a long term relationship."

Ergo said...

But inspector, you have imported a whole host of concepts that are not properly represented by the definition Myrhaf provided (and with which I agree). Again, his definition of casual sex is:

"sex with someone with whom you have no intention of forging a lasting relationship."

You've introduced the concept "love" in your suggestions of "serious love affair" or "romantic love affair" (not to mention, "serious"--which is the opposite of casual).

So you wish to say that only "sex where one is still serious about the high value of one's partner but is not necessarily seeking a long term relationship" is still moral although not ideal.

But I am not referring such such "serious love affair" sex. I am properly referring to casual sex--but not *promiscuous*, hedonistic sex.

Read my quote (in comment above) from my post "Being Gay in India." I explicitly said that I have not found anyone here as of yet worthy of being regarded by me as a "high value partner." In other words, I haven't even found anyone here worthy of going on a date with! (Not that I haven't gone on dates; just that I have, and it has a been a emotionally/intellectually draining experience!)

I really think you need strongly consider contexts.

On my part, I'll define my terms: casual sex is already defined by Myrhaf.

Sexual promiscuity is a habitual disposition toward an indiscriminate indulgence in rampant sexual activity with one or many people (at once or at different times).

Sexual hedonism is the attitude that considers all sexual acts fully and wholly in terms of physical gratification devoid of any spiritual, psychological, and philosophical content or import.

Inspector said...

"(not to mention, "serious"--which is the opposite of casual)."

Which was intentional, by the way.

"I explicitly said that I have not found anyone here as of yet worthy of being regarded by me as a "high value partner." In other words, I haven't even found anyone here worthy of going on a date with!"

Are you saying that you have sex with men who you don't consider worthy of going on dates with?

If so, then we do indeed have a difference of opinion here and this is not so much a question of definition (although that is still technically an issue).

Ergo said...

"Are you saying that you have sex with men who you don't consider worthy of going on dates with?"

I'm saying I have had sex with men I find attractive, whom I have met (I wouldn't even call it a first "date"), and whom I would not choose to date or pursue a serious relationship.

It would be hypocritical of me to lead them on when I am not the least bit captivated by anything they have to offer--okay, perhaps besides their attractiveness.

Consider this:

As Objectivists, we know that moral virtue cannot be practiced under unfree or repressive societies. The more repressive and irrational a culture, the more difficult it becomes to be morally virtuous. Indeed, you could be jeopardizing your life by trying to be morally consistent and virtuous in such societies.

For example, under a communist society, you would have to work for the government even if you know how morally repugnant it is to be an employee of a communist government; you have to do it to live.

If this is the Objectivist approach to all moral virtues, then why are some of us reluctant to regard the virtuous act of sex under the same light: Context is *everything*!

A free man in a free society engaging in casual sex (the way Mryhaf defined it) is more likely acting immorally than a gay man living in a society where homosexuality is illegal. In India, since it is virtually impossible for a gay man like me to have sex virtuously with the object of my highest admiration and value, I must regard my actions as the best actions permissible under the kind of conditions I am living in.

Just as we would not argue that Kira should not have taken the government job in Communist Russia, we must not argue that all gay men in India must remain celibate all their lives or until they find their ideal partners (or high value partners).

Know that the need for sex is a very basic human need that cannot be denied; the denial of the sexual need is as immoral as wanton sexual hedonistic gratification.

While we can certainly import philosophical significance to the act of sex, we can only do it under the *proper moral contexts*, i.e., in a free society, among free men, with their ideal partners. In other situations, the philosophical imports become more dogma than enlightened understanding.

Inspector said...

I'm fully aware of your context and I have considered it. With the exception that I didn't know it was illegal to practice homosexuality there. (How horrid! You should leave!) However, even in light of that fact I still do not agree with what you have said.

"Know that the need for sex is a very basic human need that cannot be denied"

My disagreement is that "sex;" sex as such - is not a value apart from the person one is having sex with. It is a value dependent on the value of that person. Sex is not an unlimited value; as we both agree there are higher and lesser forms of it, and within certain contexts, its value can diminish to the point that one would lose more than one gains.

Your argument would be correct if one needed other people and sex with them. One does not - happily, sex is possible without others: through masturbation.

Given that masturbation can fulfill the physical need of sex, the only need that remains to be sought from sex with others is the spiritual/emotional need. But this latter is not something that one can gain from people that you are "not the least bit captivated by anything they have to offer [mentally]."

If you say that sex with others is a higher value than masturbation then I say check that premise because the only value that sex adds is the value of the person. If one's partner is not in fact valuable as a person, but one does appear to experience value from sex with them over masturbation, I would caution strongly to search one's soul. Because sex is not so valuable as to be worthy of purchase at the price of evasion.

We do not import philosophical significance to sex; that significance is in the nature of what we are, as rational beings. The "importation" comes from our rational nature itself and unless you propose to drop your rational nature, there is no escaping the significance. The consequences of doing so are just as significant as the gains from mindless sex are insignificant.

Ergo said...

Inspector,

"(How horrid! You should leave!)"

I'm trying! But it's awfully difficult now given the current global-political climate.

What is your basis (principle or concept) for subsuming masturbation under sex? Nothing in the Objectivist literature that I have read so far (including the dicussion of sex in OPAR) mentions anything like this.

As far as I know, sex is biological *and* spiritual in man, although the spiritual aspect gains more dominance in sex because the sexual exprience is predominantly an *emotional* experience--and emotional summation of philosophical and moral values.

Peikoff says, "Sex is a physical capacity in the service of a spiritual need. It reflects not man's body alone nor his mind alone, but their integration. As in all such cases, the mind is the ruling factor."

Masturbation cannot be subsumed under sex because it is purely physical and it does not carry philosophical or spiritual significance like sex does, i.e., it is not an emotional summation of ones moral values.

Masturbation, at best, is amoral and not worthy of philosophical thought. It is like having a mundane meal to satisfy a momentory need for hunger.

You said: "Your argument would be correct if one needed other people and sex with them. One does not - happily, sex is possible without others: through masturbation."

Given Peikoff's statement and my explanation, your view is incorrect then. I hold that sex is inseperable from the context of two people, because sex is the medium of expressing and experiencing moral values.

With regard to casual sex, this type of sex between two people is lacking in moral worth (although not always totally empty). However, given certain contexts, such type of sex--while it may not be *morally ideal*--it is certainly *not* immoral.

Peikoff explains that dominant experience of sex is an emotional experience flowing from intellectual premises. That is, only with the presence of another can you emotionally experience the intellectual values you hold and cherish. However, devoid of the context that could give rise to such an emotional experience (that is, without a partner who's attributes elicit your emotional appreciation and desire), the sexual act becomes physical but not necessarily immoral.

Peikoff describes this type of casual sex as chewing a piece of meat in a cave somewhere: you are nourishing yourself physically and you are eating in shelter, but your emotional experience is bland or completely lacking. In contrast, eating a fancy dinner amid crystal and tapestries in a fine restaurant becomes more than just the mere fulfillment of a physical need--it becomes a spiritual and emotional experience of satisfaction.

This is *not* to say that eating in a cave somewhere is immoral and dining in a fancy restaurant is only moral. This is but to say that the former is far from ideal and the latter is the fullest and best expression (morally ideal) of a satisfying physical need of eating.

To have sex with someone you despise is grotesque and a betrayal of your self-esteem and values. It is akin to eating rotten food picked from the garbage just because you are hungry, while ignoring the deliberate harm you are inflicting upon your health.

To have sex with someone you know you do not value highly or particularly admire or choose not have a serious relationship with is NOT ideal but permissible and certainly NOT immoral. It is like eating regular, mundane, food knowing that it doesn't taste great but is certainly nutritious and important for your health and well-being.

To have sex with your highest value, the person whom you cherish the most in this world is a moral obligation.

Inspector said...

"Masturbation... does not carry philosophical or spiritual significance like sex does, i.e., it is not an emotional summation of ones moral values."

And neither does the kind of sex that you advocate. I highly suggest that you consider this fact and check your premises.

To answer your question about where I get my definition from, I get it from Leonard Peikoff, in his lecture Love, Sex, and Romance:

"Q: Is masturbation sex…?

A: Yes it is Sex; sex is any contact with and pleasure from the genitals. It does not say what form of contact – despite our president [Clinton] – and it does not say who or whether it’s you yourself. If you get pleasure from scratching your back, that is not sex… but if it’s the right area, it is!”

The argument of your post, Ergo, is valid some places, but what validity it contains does not apply to casual sex as I define it (and as Ayn Rand defined it!) and it does not apply to some of what you advocate. To say that one can morally engage in less-than-final, lifelong, top romance is not, in other words, to prove your point.

Where I disagree with you is that I hold there is a limit of value in a sexual partner below which sex becomes a non-value and/or a dis-value and that some of the sex you describe as moral is below that limit.

You do speak, albeit very briefly, against hedonism, so you do agree that such a limit is at least theoretically possible. But I wonder if you have really accepted this idea fully; have considered what it means and where that limit is.

I will attempt further explanation below:

Regardless of whether masturbation is or is not sex, the value of sex comes from the value of the partner as a human being. The added pleasure of sex over masturbation comes from our emotional and psychological mechanisms, which are connected to our evaluation of the other person.

There is no reason to have or want sex, apart from wanting a person; a specific person. There is not simply a desire for "sex;" i.e. sex as such, sex apart from a specific partner; as in a part of us that says "I need sex!"

There are actually several needs in play.

First, men have a physical need for biological release but this can be fulfilled by masturbation. It is not a need for "sex." (I am not sure about women, but this would apply to their need if there is one)

The other need one has as regards sex is for the spiritual, values-based connection to another person. I.e. sex in its exclusively human capacity. (i.e. in what is is for us that it is not for animals)

Taking the example of sex with someone who one does not respect mentally even enough to date, what exactly is to be gained from this activity?

Nothing from a purely physical standpoint. Masturbation is certainly easier and more accessible. And all of the additional physical pleasure is caused, as I noted above, by non-physical factors.

That leaves only the question of the spiritual value of the act; of the heightened pleasure from an emotional connection to another person. But if the partner doesn't have spiritual value, then there is nothing to be gained.

A is A. There is no escaping the fact that for sex to be a value, one must have a partner worthy of the act in the human sense.

It is the temptation of those in unfortunate circumstances to ask, "but don't I get sex, too? Am I denied this, also?" Yes and no. No, inasmuch as masturbation is sex. Yes, inasmuch as without a worthy partner you are in fact denied sex-with-other (by your unfortunate circumstances) and trying to substitute an unworthy one will not work.

Attempts to get around this fact and still enjoy the value of sex-with-others is a futile endeavor and will fail. Evasion and pretense can net the pragmatist's pleasure in the short term, but reap the pragmatist's ruin in the long.

Ergo said...

Given your quote from Peikoff, I'm now confused. How can one agree with this:

"Peikoff says, "Sex is a physical capacity in the service of a spiritual need. It reflects not man's body alone nor his mind alone, but their integration. As in all such cases, the mind is the ruling factor."

Masturbation cannot be subsumed under sex because it is purely physical and it does not carry philosophical or spiritual significance like sex does, i.e., it is not an emotional summation of ones moral values."

And with this:

""Q: Is masturbation sex…?

A: Yes it is Sex; sex is any contact with and pleasure from the genitals. It does not say what form of contact – despite our president [Clinton] – and it does not say who or whether it’s you yourself. If you get pleasure from scratching your back, that is not sex… but if it’s the right area, it is!"

Speaking for myself, I'll say that I don't agree with Peikoff's later view on masturbation but I agree with his earlier view in OPAR.

Further, I don't agree with the idea that sex is merely any contact with the "right area", i.e., the genitals.
If sex is to represent an action bearing great emotional and intellectual significance--a validation of moral values and an affirmation of man's physical existence--then sex has to be MORE than a mere stimulation of genitals; it has to properly involve the ENTIRE body, because the ENTIRE body is engaged in the affirmation and validation of existence: our values and existence are not emotionally validated by our genitals (or by our partner's genitals) but by our ENTIRE being.

So, no. Given my frame of understanding right now, I refuse to agree with Peikoff's view that sex is only pleasure with the genitals and therefore even masturbation is sex.

As to the rest of your comment, I'm getting a sense that you are advocating celibacy for every individual regardless of their contexts if they haven't properly found the right partner to have sex with--a partner who has values that one admires and looks up to.

But give me some time to think through your latest comment; I'll re-read it carefully and think before I reply. This comment was mostly to express my immediate rejection of the masturbation point.

P.S. Myrhaf, hope you don't mind we're carrying on this discussion among ourselves on your blog.

madmax said...

"As to the rest of your comment, I'm getting a sense that you are advocating celibacy for every individual regardless of their contexts if they haven't properly found the right partner to have sex with--a partner who has values that one admires and looks up to."

I am getting that sense too.

Myrhaf said...

Myrhaf, hope you don't mind we're carrying on this discussion among ourselves on your blog.

I don't mind.

Inspector said...

Ergo, you may have mis-copied your own text into your first quote of LP.

These are your words, are they not:

"Masturbation cannot be subsumed under sex because it is purely physical and it does not carry philosophical or spiritual significance like sex does, i.e., it is not an emotional summation of ones moral values."

---------------------

"As to the rest of your comment, I'm getting a sense that you are advocating celibacy for every individual regardless of their contexts if they haven't properly found the right partner to have sex with--a partner who has values that one admires and looks up to."

No, not regardless of context. I'm sure someone could come up with some esoteric context in which an exception would be possible.

But absent "a partner who has values that one admires and looks up to," yes I do advocate celibacy in most every context. As I said, "if the partner doesn't have spiritual value, then there is nothing to be gained." And plenty to be lost; man does not function well on the animal level.

Asking if I advocate celibacy absent a worthy partner is like asking if I advocate starvation absent food. I'm not advocating starvation; it is simply the only option in reality. If there is no nourishment present, then eating the non-nourishing won't help you. And attempting to fake reality is harmful.

As I said, man is capable of fulfilling his physical needs by himself. That leaves only the spiritual needs, which are not satisfied by sex with the wrong sort of individual.

One does not necessarily need a partner who is worthy of lifelong romance, but one certainly does need "a partner who has values that one admires." (Although for many people it is worth it to hold out for the former anyhow)

(Oh, and thanks for the venue, Myrhaf)

Myrhaf said...

(Oh, and thanks for the venue, Myrhaf)

No problem. More hits for the 'haf.

Ergo said...

It's a long one. So beware! :)

Inspector,

I think we both agree that masturbation is not sex. If you don’t, well you should think about it further. Sex is inseparable from the context of two persons; it is only within this context that we can even have a meaningful discussion of the morality of sex and the morality of different types/contexts/acts of sex.

If masturbation were to be considered sex—sex with yourself—are you going to judge it as the highest moral ideal of sex because it is with yourself?? Obviously, a man of self-esteem and earned pride regards his own physical existence as very valuable; thus, having sex with this very high value of his own self would need to be considered a very admirable and ideal form of sex. I think it leads to ludicrous conclusions to therefore say that masturbation is an ideal expression of one’s emotional summation and existential affirmation of one’s self—because it is sex with the most ideal partner: yourself!

Further, the argument could also go the other way: if sex is predominantly an emotional experience and the value of the physical act is heightened by the conceptual and philosophical significance the act symbolizes, then masturbation—by definition—would have to be fully immoral (just as you consider casual sex as immoral) because it is purely physical: one hardly/rarely thinks about the philosophical significance of masturbation while masturbating!

Further, if sex is the stimulation of the “right” area, i.e., one’s genitals, and if masturbation is sex, then while masturbating, one would have to consider the philosophical significance of the act of sex (stimulation of the genitals)—since sex is predominantly emotional and conceptual.

But all of this sounds really absurd, and funny!

I’m going to drop this right here because I’m not inclined to entertain the idea that masturbation is sex only because any stimulation of the genitals—even by oneself—is sex. Further, we haven’t even alluded to the evidently real experience of self-induced orgasmic pleasure without even touching the genitals, and the female orgasmic experience which can be induced by stimulating other erogenous zones besides their genitalia.

I hold that sex is inseperable from the context of two individuals, and that the act of sex involves one’s entire physical and mental presence! It cannot be reduced to merely the stimulation of genitals. It is an indisputable fact that areas in addition to the genitals are erogenous zones that can be stimulated to be very pleasurable during sex.

I therefore hold that masturbation, i.e., the stimulation of your own genitals by yourself, is essentially amoral and not worthy of philosophical thought. It becomes immoral if one becomes a slave to the act—like an addict—just as a promiscuous man is a slave to his passions and a hedonist does not even care about being a slave to his whims.

Your analogy of celibacy with the absence of food is false, and Peikoff alludes to this analogy in OPAR.

You said: “Asking if I advocate celibacy absent a worthy partner is like asking if I advocate starvation absent food. I'm not advocating starvation; it is simply the only option in reality. If there is no nourishment present, then eating the non-nourishing won't help you. And attempting to fake reality is harmful.”

The proper analogy should be what I drew in my previous comment, which was derived from Peikoff’s analogy of food and sex.

Celibacy is starvation.

Wanton sexual hedonism is like indiscriminate and unrestrained eating behavior
Sex with prostitutes or people one actually despises is like deliberately seeking out rotten, foul, and harmful foods to eat.

Sexual promiscuity is gluttony.

Casual sex under appropriate contexts (like, no romantic attachments, no deception, a mutual and consensual understanding of the act, or in a society lacking sexual freedom, in a context where one does not feel philosophically—or at a “sense-of-life” level—bonded to the partner) is like eating normal, regular, mundane food for the purpose of survival and to fulfill a need (note: I’m functioning on the premise that sex is inseparable from the context of two people, and that masturbation is not sex, and that masturbation is amoral).

Sex with a partner whose values and company one admires and enjoys is like eating a special meal cooked thoughtfully at home or dining out at a decent restaurant or having fun out in the city.

Sex with one’s ideal, romantic, soul-mate is like an all-out GOURMET dining experience with candle light, tapestries, crystals, fine China, etc.! 

I think of casual sex precisely as fulfilling man’s physical need—not cravenly and wantonly, but in a responsible measure (as I outlined in my analogies), when his given circumstances do not permit him the opportunity or even the possibility of finding admirable sexual partners.

Indeed, I would also argue that such kind of sexual acts (that is not hedonistic or promiscuous) also fulfills a pertinent and undeniable psychological need: it keeps man healthy (not a celibate and frustrated pressure cooker held back by the platonic bonds of his moral abstractions!).

Casual sex (defined as above) can also give man a value of existential affirmation—from himself derived from his actions with his partner; it can reinforce his sense of masculinity, virility, efficacy, potency, attractiveness, and thereby give him a well-deserved psychological boost of self-esteem. Note that Peikoff begins his discussion of the values of sex in OPAR *primarily* from the perspective the individual’s selfish benefit in the act; only later as a derivation does his discussion move on to the characteristics and value-judgments of the partner.

Thus, I argue that casual sex can also provide the rational man with a rational set of selfish values, derived from his own actions in the act. A man who is able to attract a sexual partner on his own merits (not first random one that he indiscriminately picked up on the street or bought for 50 dollars) should rightfully feel a sense of pride in his physical appearance or personality that evidently were the values that attracted his partner and which he exchanged with his partner. In this rational and mutual exchange of values, the man should be proud of his sexual ability, attractiveness, and efficacy to bring something of worth to the “table.”

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the intellectual and philosophical values emotionally experienced with an ideal romantic partner; nonetheless, sex as a definite human need should not and cannot be denied. Advocating celibacy is a worse stance of immorality for a rational man.

Inspector said...

Ergo,

Your use of definition in this discussion has confused the argument so much that I am nearly unmotivated to respond. You stretch the definition of "casual sex" so much that you can include positive values in it - which you then subsequently use to justify sex absent those very same values.

As we have been over, we are not discussing merely "sex with someone with whom you have no intention of forging a lasting relationship;" we are discussing sex absent, as you put it, "admirable sexual partners."

What we agree is that masturbation is not the same exact thing as sex with another. However, I do not agree with your blanket assertion that it is not sex - for some purposes, it is. I provided a direct quote from Leonard Peikoff.

As to your continued assertion that it cannot have philosophical significance, this is also incorrect, and has consequences. On its philosophical significance, I will quote again, directly, from Dr. Peikoff's lecture:

“Masturbation [is] the means of self-sufficiency in a world where you couldn’t find the right person…”

I note that, you define sex absent masturbation so that you can cherry pick a few quotes out of Objectivism that "man needs sex," and thus justify sinking to any level of valueless sex simply because you "need" it. But the quotation above provides direct evidence that Objectivism is against your position: that man can be self-sufficient and is not a slave to sex. (As if the other quotations I provided on "casual sex" had not already done so)

I have already explained that there are TWO needs man has for sex - the bare physical aspect and the spiritual need. The former can be fulfilled with masturbation and so casual sex is not needed. The latter cannot be fulfilled with casual sex and so casual sex is a fool's errand.

All that which man "needs" from sex, he cannot and will not find without, as you put it, "admirable sexual partners." All of the psychological benefits, affirmations of masculinity, and everything else you cite require an admirable partner - or the evasion and pretense that you have one. (and I shouldn't have to cite the consequences of values bought at the price of evasion)

Casual sex serves no purpose but the destruction of one's Pride and one's values. The attempt to smear my position with the brush "celibacy" is an inaccurate and, as my (correct) analogy illustrated, misleading. It reminds me of how hedonists and Empiricists will see any call to principle as necessarily Puritan, despite the fact that Objectivism's existence proves this is patently untrue.

Anonymous said...

"I have already explained that there are TWO needs man has for sex - the bare physical aspect and the spiritual need. The former can be fulfilled with masturbation and so casual sex is not needed."

This I *adamantly* disagree with. Ergo's discussion of this is far healthier and less repressive. Casual sex as ergo defines it is *far* superior to masturbation.

I'm not going to really go into more because this subject is complex and I don't trust my formulations at this point but I just want to register that, to me, much of Inspector's analysis when you get down to it seems to advocate celibacy and privation (and I'm not saying this from the perspective of empiricism or hedonism).

As I see it, casual sex (in the sense Ergo means it) or what is commonly referred to as "friends with benefits" is a moral approach to sex given the context of many people's lives. Inspector makes sex sound like "feast or famine". That is far too restrictive.

Objectivist Lurker

Inspector said...

While I think the whole "friends with benefits" idea is pure hippie hedonism, it is not that which Ergo defends: he is talking about sex with people who do not qualify as "friends."

The rest of what you say, I can't defend against as it seems you are just offering your opinion and not an argument, as such.

Ergo said...

Inspector,

First, what Peikoff offers is not Objectivism, only interpretations of Objectivism.

Second, you have failed to defend the view that masturbation and genital stimulation (even by yourself) is sex and all its logical implications. You have merely re-quoted Peikoff's position, which is ofcourse the *point* of contention here! I disagree with Peikoff's later formulation and agree with his earlier formulation.
My reasons for this have been provided in detail. You haven't defended your belief in Peikoff's later position, only re-asserted them.

I'm sorry you have such a sad view of Objectivism's moral prescriptions. It strikes me overly abstract. I have yet to properly grasp your prescription for what would constitute a morally permissible action for me given my own context I outlined earlier. At first, I had the impression that you were agreeing that people in my context are compelled under the given circumstances to live the healthiest way possible to them; i.e., that me having sex with partners I meet is the best course of events possible to me, and hence it's okay.
Then, I got the impression that all you can permit someone like me to do in my context is to stay in the loneliness of my room and masturbate away! And for some reason, you happen to think that that the act of masturbation wholly addresses the physical need for sex, which is wholly exclusive of any mental or pychological need--in other words, you are able to neatly dissect sex into purely physical and purely mental (I can't help but pointing out that this dissection is just what the hedonists and the religious moralists do).

Masturbation is not sex because it does not address the need for sex (which is NOT purely physical like the hedonists wish to believe).

Objectivism is to show you how to live and flourish on this earth, not shrivel up and die.

I must state that your formulation is detrimental for healthy living on this Earth: by demanding that man can only genitally stimulate himself in most lowest form of pure physical pleaure in the loneliness of his own life to be moral, and that he never have any possibility of gaining any value from intimacy with another partner unless the partner is morally virtuous to some degree.

I'll end this discussion now, since we seem to be going nowhere. I suppose the least benefit we both can derive from our discussion thus far is to re-read each of our comments and honestly ponder all the premises and all its logical implications, keeping in mind man's full context of existence in this world.

Ergo said...

"Friends with benefits" sounds very lascivious and purely physical to me--so it's very hedonistic. This is not what I have in mind when I defend consensual sex among partners who are not intending to pursue anything romantic.

Ergo said...

I'm also interested in hearing other voices in this discussion, to give some added perspectives.

Inspector said...

"Second, you have failed to defend the view that masturbation and genital stimulation (even by yourself) is sex and all its logical implications."

It's not really essential to my argument, and it's complex enough that it would distract from an already long discussion. Perhaps some other day. You started out a part of the discussion by claiming a lot about what OPAR said about Objectivism, and I was simply providing the best sort of evidence against that claim. Additionally, you made no comment which of the quotes you provided were your own words, and which were LP's. Because there would be no contradiction or reversal of position (indicating an earlier position and a later one) if you had.

"I'm sorry you have such a sad view of Objectivism's moral prescriptions."

Then, if we're going to go there: I'm sorry that you have such an evasive and degenerate view, that amounts to nothing more than a rationalization for hedonism. I try to stay polite about these kinds of things, but if I'm going to be called "sad," then I will respond in kind. It is your view I consider "sad;" where man is a slave to a sexual desire and will sink to any level if that is all that is available; presumably for the moment.

If you are considering responding to that, then I suggest otherwise. You started it, and now we have both aired our opinions of the other. It would be pointless to continue in this vein and the best solution would be to simply drop the matter.

"I have yet to properly grasp your prescription for what would constitute a morally permissible action for me given my own context I outlined earlier."

I haven't been specific because it ultimately is something you must judge via the details of your context that I cannot be privvy to; I can't tell you exactly how much you must admire your partner, as an out-of-context commandment.

But, I can say that you must admire them to at least some degree to gain value other than the purely physical from a sexual relationship. And that, since man is a conceptual being, his arousal mechanism is inextricably tied to his thinking mind and its values. To even maintain physical arousal in the face of someone that you do not find to be "morally virtuous to some degree" is only possible by evasion of that fact.

No, I don't need to give you a prescription for your context to be able to say with confidence that your current idea - that your partner need not be morally virtuous and admirable to you to at least some degree - is incorrect.

"Then, I got the impression that all you can permit someone like me to do in my context is to stay in the loneliness of my room and masturbate away!"

First off, sleeping with people you do not admire at all will not make you less lonely. It will make you more lonely as it will be nothing but a physicalistic act. I am utterly flabbergasted that you continually assert that I am asking you to be deprived of spiritual joy when you are asking to engage in a type of sex that will bring you no such thing!

"And for some reason, you happen to think that that the act of masturbation wholly addresses the physical need for sex, which is wholly exclusive of any mental or pychological need--in other words, you are able to neatly dissect sex into purely physical and purely mental (I can't help but pointing out that this dissection is just what the hedonists and the religious moralists do)."

Then you have not read a position that I have asserted clearly now more than once. I said that man has both a physical and a spiritual need for sex, which I separated for the purpose of analysis. No, masturbation does not address the spiritual need of connection to another human being. But - and I said this repeatedly but you have shown no sign of having read it - the the kind of sex you are advocating does not address the spiritual aspect, either!

I am saying that, if you lack a partner that is admirable to at least some degree, NOTHING will fulfill your spiritual sexual needs. The only needs that can be addressed - with either casual sex or masturbation - are the purely physical. (And, that "casual sex" is for other reasons impracticable for a rational man.)

"Objectivism is to show you how to live and flourish on this earth, not shrivel up and die."

I am sorry, but there are circumstances in life in which it is not possible to address certain needs. If there is no nourishment around, then eating the non-nourishing will not help and will only make you sick. Pretense is no escape from unfortunate circumstances, and evasion of reality is not a price at which life on this earth, or the values of life, can be bought.

If you can prove the helpfulness and disprove the harmfulness of "casual sex," then do so. But pleading about unfortunate circumstances will not change the basic nature of a thing, and is not helpful to this discussion. Being really, really hungry may justify lesser foods but it will not make poison into food so trying to chastise me for cruelness to the hungry is pointless emotionalism.

It does not belong in a reasonable discussion and will not sway the minds of any man of reason who is listening.

"I must state that your formulation is detrimental for healthy living on this Earth: by demanding that man can only genitally stimulate himself in most lowest form of pure physical pleaure in the loneliness of his own life to be moral, and that he never have any possibility of gaining any value from intimacy with another partner unless the partner is morally virtuous to some degree."

(emphasis mine)

I submit that healthy living, sexually speaking, is not possible, period, unless you have a parter that is "morally virtuous to some degree." I submit that there is no value to be gained from intimacy with someone who is not "morally virtuous to some degree." To claim otherwise is to blank out just what one is being intimate with; in this case with someone who is not valued by you spiritually at all - who is just a warm and willing body to fulfill only the physical aspects of sex. I don't know why you lament the spiritual values that I am supposedly seeking to deprive you of, when no such value could possibly be gained from such an encounter! (except by means of evasion, which is too high a price to pay for any value)

You seem to assert that sex - not sex with a valued partner, but sex as such; sex with anyone, no matter their value or lack thereof is a human need which cannot be denied. And that this need must be sated at any price, by stooping to any kind of person, even if they are not morally virtuous to any degree, provided that this kind of person is the only available at the moment. Your vision of man is not that of a rational, independent being, but of a rutting animal in heat that must mate with anything that its options are confined to.

If there is some level of depravity in a sexual partner that you will not tolerate in fulfilling this "need," (provided of course that they are the only level available) then you have not specified it, other than a few undefined abstract statements against "hedonism." And if you did attempt to define them, then they would be contradictory to your premises - by your own words sex is a "need," and anything that prevents one from 'fulfilling' it is a proscription unsuitable for living "on this earth" under which one must "shrivel up and die."

If you do reverse position on your premises and assert any moral minimums of your own, then all of your criticism of me along these lines (shriveling, etc) amounts to nothing but empty, unproductive, emotional, and emotionalist, name-calling.

Inspector said...

One correction to the above: I have re-read his position on sex with those whom he actively despises. He does condemn that, and thus it is not hypothetical that his criticisms of me are nothing but emotionalism. He is in contradiction of his own position, since he does in fact advocate a denial of his supposed sexual "need," something which he called "a worse stance of immorality for a rational man."

So either he is a hypocrite who is just as guilty of what he accuses - or his accusation is empty name-calling. Either way, it is meaningless and invalid.

""Friends with benefits" sounds very lascivious and purely physical to me--so it's very hedonistic. This is not what I have in mind when I defend consensual sex among partners who are not intending to pursue anything romantic."

To anonymous:

Again, this is him switching his definitions. He does not merely advocate "not intending to pursue anything romantic;" he advocates sex with those who are not "admirable sexual partners," and those who he does not admire, morally, to any degree, and those who he does not care to even date. As I said, he advocates sex with those he is not capable of even friendship with - "benefits" or not.

His repeated attempts to characterize his position as merely being that sex does not require "lifelong romance" are bordering on absurd at this point.

Ergo said...

Inspector, Are you equating not having sex with an "admirable sexual partner" with having sex with a partner one despises, hates, or is repulsed with?

It seems like you are. But you should not that the two don't logically entail each other. Besides, you are misunderstanding my use of that phrase.

In my earlier comments:

1) I provided definition of casual sex.
2) I provided definition of hedonism.
3) I provided definition of promiscuity (which I demarcated from hedonism).
4) I provided definition of celibacy.
5) I gave illustrated analogies for *each* of the above with the context of one's need for food (as Peikoff does in OPAR).
4) I defined sex as inseperable from the context of two people, and the morality of sex and inseperable from this context.
5) I defined sex as an inseperable union of the physical and the spiritual, and masturbation is purely physical.
6) "Admirable sexual partner" was intended to refer to the sexual partner that you admire for some intellectual, moral, or philosophical quality.


Therefore, when you say:

"If there is some level of depravity in a sexual partner that you will not tolerate in fulfilling this "need," (provided of course that they are the only level available) then you have not specified it, other than a few undefined abstract statements against "hedonism."

You are either lying in the above or you haven't been careful in reading anything I wrote and deliberating upon it.

Casual sex does not need to include the philosophical or moral admiration but does not entail hatred, repulsion, or disgust with your sexual partner; neither does it have to be a total absence or lack of *any* non-philosophical quality.

One can have sex with someone with whom one has no intellectual or philosophical connection, but whom one could admire and desire as attractive, pleasing personality, well-groomed, decent, etc. So many qualities!

For example, you notice someone in a bar (or on the internet). You both find each other physically attractive; then, you walk up to him to strike up a conversation: you realize he's just not too smart, that you cannot project a relationship with him because you won't have anything interesting and lasting to talk about or share significant moral values; you believe you shouldn't even lead him on by giving an impression that you might like to date him, because you don't want to romantically date men (and spend time, effort, and energy in dating men) you can't share significant philosophical values with.

But you see that he is an attractive, decent young man, with a great sense of humor, good manners, etc., and you find all of this attractive enough.

In this situation, if both are willing and if the context is clear to both, then it is permissible for you to invite him over to your place for the night.

I would agree that you should never have sex with those who can not possibly elicit any positive assessment from you:

For example, you must not have sex while in a drunken stupor with no knowledge of who your partner is. (This is an example of hedonism.)

You must not have sex with some random fling on the street whom you have not known even more a minute before your sex act. (This is an example of promiscuity.)

(The examples are not exhaustive. Now, I am led to think about the sexual possibilities for people who are simply not even the least bit attractive. People with unfortunately hideous appearances for purely *natural* reasons, i.e., excluding reasons like accidents, self-destructive habits like drugs, gluttony, addictions, etc.
So, for people who are genetically just very very unattractive, are we right in morally condemning them only to masturbation until they can find some other person who will be willing to be their ideal romantic soulmate? It is a fact that not everyone will find an ideal soulmate. The highly unattractive ones are are more likely to never find a long-lastic, deep, romantic soulmate (I assume.))

I'm finished with this argument. You are far too rationalistic for me to sanction any more of this discussion; and your latest comment has made the most ridiculously false charges of emotionalism and evasion against me (even though you have been hinting at evasion all along, which I chose to ignore for the benefit of being generous to your position). In fact, I have been the one providing all the definitions for every concept I discussed right from the get-go. This is clear for *all* who are reading this discussion to see and validate.

Inspector said...

Ergo,

I believe it was clear for "all who are reading" which one of us started in with the name-calling (you). That you are now so offended by it as to end the discussion... well, what exactly did you expect?

I have already re-examined and clarified my assessment of your position vis a vis hedonism, and posted it, which is visible above. While I see the distinction you are making between your position and hedonism, it nevertheless leaves you in the position of actually advocating the "shriveling" stance of "celibacy" yourself in some circumstances. Thus your characterization of my position is reduced to empty name-calling and appeal to emotion (i.e. emotionalism).

And now you've added "rationalistic" to the list of baseless insults. This one more completely baseless, since there is no evidence at all for it, other than the fact that - to an Empiricist, anyone who makes moral pronouncements is a Rationalist.

Now, in your final post, you hasten to add that while you advocate sex in the absence of any moral, philosophical, or intellectual value in a partner (yet still claim - inexplicably - that such a sexual relationship can offer spiritual fulfillment), that there are other values (besides physical appearance) which you had in mind all along.

Examining these, I see that you smuggle in philosophical concepts - "decent" is a moral evaluation, and "sense of humor" is also deeply rooted in philosophy and sense of life.

This leaves me with a dilemma: either you were incorrect to claim that the person in question had "no value" of the spiritual variety, in which case I will not blanketly condemn such an affair* (and I am quite frustrated that you did so, causing us to talk past each other for so long), or you didn't mean to include those values and are once again confusing the argument.


*For the example of those who are borderline cases spiritually speaking, I will advise extreme caution as evasion is still a prime danger in that sort of thing. That kind of person is just on the edge of being despicable, and is usually only one conversation away from uttering something loathsome. If you seek to not know them well, and thus not encounter this quality in order to maintain attraction, then how is this not a evasion of the facts? And furthermore I will still advise that minimum spiritual values in a partner offers a minimal experience, one which still requires one to lower one's standards, Pride, etc. Such encounters should be avoided unless one is fairly certain that such is the best one's life has to offer, (i.e. if one is disfigured as per Ergo's example) and not simply in a "dry spell," (or temporarily stuck in a bad country) as it is not usually worth it.

Notice that for such examples, I offer caveats and concerns, but not blanket condemnation. It's something you the individual are going to have to decide based on the context of your life. But remember that sex is not some kind of unlimited value or enslaving need, that trumps rationality, independence, honesty, integrity, justice, and pride.

Ergo said...

P.S. I was re-reading all the comments in this post, and I apologize for the oversight in copy/pasting my own comment about masturbation along with Peikoff's--they were written alongside each other. The impression given is that what I quoted is wholly Peikoff's, but it is not. Inspector properly points that out in the subsequent comment.

Ergo said...

Inspector accuses me of "smuggling in" some philosophical concepts in my last comment, thus implying that I have been dishonest.

He said: "Now, in your final post, you hasten to add that while you advocate sex in the absence of any moral, philosophical, or intellectual value in a partner..., that there are other values (besides physical appearance) which you had in mind all along."

But the fact is, he has just not been paying careful attention to my comments earlier. I had said:

"With regard to casual sex, this type of sex between two people is lacking in moral worth (although not always totally empty). However, given certain contexts, such type of sex--while it may not be *morally ideal*--it is certainly *not* immoral."

Note the phrase casual sex is "not always totally empty" of moral worth--be it significantly philosophical values that become the emotional summation in the sex act or more minor moral values like decency, attractiveness, well-groomed, pleasing personality, etc.

Then I had also said:

"One can have sex with someone with whom one has no intellectual or philosophical connection, but whom one could admire and desire as attractive, pleasing personality, well-groomed, decent, etc. So many qualities!"

Note how I have always maintained that sex with someone you do not *despise* or one you have some knowledge about (as opposed to being in a drunken stupor) has some kind of value that you can gain, either from your own self in the act or derived from your partner.

Here's another repeatition of the same idea:

"Casual sex does not need to include the philosophical or moral admiration but does not entail hatred, repulsion, or disgust with your sexual partner; neither does it have to be a total absence or lack of *any* non-philosophical quality."

Note the last phrase above.

Here's another example of my early statement of values that can be gained from sex with a person whom one does not despise nor admire for his moral worth:

"...casual sex can also provide the rational man with a rational set of selfish values, derived from his own actions in the act. A man who is able to attract a sexual partner on his own merits (not first random one that he indiscriminately picked up on the street or bought for 50 dollars) should rightfully feel a sense of pride in his physical appearance or personality that evidently were the values that attracted his partner and which he exchanged with his partner. In this rational and mutual exchange of values, the man should be proud of his sexual ability, attractiveness, and efficacy to bring something of worth to the “table.”"

I hadn't "smuggled" anything just out of the blue at the last minute in the last comment. I have just been unfortunate enough to engage in a discussion with someone who's more interested in making his own point in haste rather than carefully deliberating on and analyzing what has been said by the other.

Inspector said...

"Inspector accuses me of "smuggling in" some philosophical concepts in my last comment, thus implying that I have been dishonest."

The implication wasn't that you knew that you were doing it (a dishonesty) or not, simply that you were doing it. When I want to accuse someone of something... I accuse them straight up.

But you have not - even now - addressed that fact that you have done so. Those are philosophical values and thus this contradicts your contentions.

Further, the use of "not always" or "not necessarily" implies that sometimes it is lacking totally in spiritual/philosophical worth and so that is the only part of your endorsement that I need address. I find once again that you are mixing acceptable and unacceptable ideas and in response to my criticism trying to characterize your position by means of the acceptable ones.

Further, I was always careful to phrase my posts so that it was clear what I was arguing against. If Ergo is so concerned about the closeness with which I have read his position (a concern which I dispute), then he ought to look with equal closeness at how much he has payed attention to what I have written.

And also, just because I will not blanketly condemn such things does not mean that they are not fraught with peril of evasion and also completely wrong outside of truly exceptional circumstances.

Since the reasons for this are so tied into what I've said so far, I think that my commentary has been valuable in that regard at least.

And furthermore, there have been a number of points along the way that we disagree about. The way that he sees the "need" for sex is one. I simply do not agree with the way that Ergo characterizes it. One does not "need" sex; one needs the values that give rise to sex. One needs sex only in the context of having someone worthy of sex. One does not simply have this "need" that one must slate, and it is simply a matter of finding the best available (or minimum acceptable). That is the way that animals and hedonists work, not humans. Sex is a consequence of valuing another; not a primary or end. For more on this, see here.

Ergo said...

I've been re-reading these comments, and the link Inspector provided, to figure out the truth of all this. I can't post on the OO forum cuz I don't have an account there; maybe I'll open one soon. So, I'll say this here:

I think we have to return to definitions--cuz definitions are the our safeguards against cognitive anarchy, which is what I think transpired here.

I asked Inspector to provide a concept to refer to the kind of sexual act Myrhaf had defined under "casual sex."

Inspector provided some suggestions which were unsatisfactory and added more complexities (like introducing the very specific concept of "love" into the term). He also offered a definition:

"sex where one is still serious about the high value of one's partner but is not necessarily seeking a long term relationship."

But that definition is most clearly *not* what was indicated by Myrhaf and my use of the term "casual sex."

The best conceptual reference for Inspector's definition is a "dating" relationship, a less than serious (non-soul-mate-type) dating relationship. But this definition misses the point I raised that sometimes, in certain contexts, man can find himself unable to find a person even worthy of dating (even going on one date)--for whatever reasons, including his existential context, his physical appearance, his philosophical values, optional values, etc.

And to pretend to have dates and intellectual exchanges only so you can justify your sex act is a terrible rationalization; I don't think Inspector is advocating that either.

The kind of casual sex act I have been indicating is certainly lesser in moral value than the definition Inspector provided, of a dating relationship. My only contention is that the concept I have been advocating is *not* de facto immoral, and certainly not so long as the person you end up having sex with is not someone you despise, someone you picked up on a whim from the street, or someone you won't remember the next morning after you shrug off your drunken stupor.

Another thing I note is that Inspector does not seem to regard physical appearance as a value, either the physical appearance of one's own self or that of one's partner--when assessed in a sober and rational state of mind. If my impression is correct, then I disgaree with him there as well.

Physical appearance is certainly a very important value for one's self. Dan Edge has some interesting comments about how this comes about, on his blog.

Another thing Inspector seems to be claiming is that the possibility of evasion is inherent in the kind of casual sex encounters I am referring to. I disagree. In fact, the kind of encounters I have been describing makes an explicit admission of the values or lack thereof (both philosophical and non-philosophical) in the encounter, and seeks to forge a sexual union only in cases where the there are atleast some *non-philosophical* (or minor/optional) values--including physical appearance--that elicit a positive evaluation, without any further *expectations* of greater value. This is very very different from feigning ignorance, which is evasion that Inspector wishes to warn against.

For example, it's not a matter of being "only one conversation away from realizing the other person's depravity" and evading the possibility; it is being fully cognizant that this person cannot offer any mental or philosophical value in a conversation then or thereafter, so I'm not evading the possibility because I full expect some nonsense to be uttered. If the nonsense is actually philosophically depraved, then yes, I will respond with disgust, and to engage in a sexual union with someone I despise for their views is wrong.

However, if the mental and philosophical level of the other person only permits topics that are simple, light, decent, conversation on say "American Idol contestants" or the latest fashion craze, then I may well enjoy a light evening--about as much as I can permit myself to tolerate given my circumstances.

I'll agree that nothing is beyond the sphere of some implicit moral evaluation or sense-of-life evaluation, but I'm also not saying that such casual sex is a moral ideal. It is tarnished, it is less than ideal, but it is not depraved immorality.

Also, the whole notion of dating relationships seem strange to me, as an Indian (perhaps). I don't understand the idea of dating someone if you cannot already project an estimation of having a long-term relationship with the person. In other words, I would not date someone who I couldn't see as being my potential life-partner. I would think that to do so is a huge investment in emotions, time, money, effort, social life, etc.

I realize that Americans view dating as "testing the waters"; but I think of dating more seriously as getting involved with the intent to be life-long partners, but not having that ultimate certainty as yet, until one reaches the point of committment in marriage or civil unions or just verbal proposals.

In that sense, Inspector's definition provided early on is not relevant to this discussion on casual sex. But I suspect, he has been operating on that definition all along, which is why he ended accusing me of evasion, philosophical smuggling, and whatever else.

Inspector said...

"But that definition is most clearly *not* what was indicated by Myrhaf and my use of the term "casual sex.""

I wouldn't speak for Myrhaf here. It isn't clear that he wasn't indicating what I was. It wasn't clear at the time that you weren't.

"But this definition misses the point I raised that sometimes, in certain contexts, man can find himself unable to find a person even worthy of dating (even going on one date)--for whatever reasons, including his existential context, his physical appearance, his philosophical values, optional values, etc."

And I still contend that, if they are unworthy of even dating - i.e. that you do not care for their company outside of sex itself - that the contradiction I mentioned is almost certainly present.

"Another thing I note is that Inspector does not seem to regard physical appearance as a value,"

Not so - I did in fact mention your example of physical appearance as valid. Just because it hasn't been relevant to what I've been discussing does not mean that I don't have regard for it. (In fact, I do regard it very much so; but not so much that it should be purchased at the price of ignoring someone's spiritual value - or lack thereof)

"Another thing Inspector seems to be claiming is that the possibility of evasion is inherent in the kind of casual sex encounters I am referring to."

Correct. It is something that is, if not inevitable, one is at least dancing on the razor's edge with in those kinds of relationships.

"In fact, the kind of encounters I have been describing makes an explicit admission of the values or lack thereof (both philosophical and non-philosophical) in the encounter, and seeks to forge a sexual union only in cases where the there are atleast some *non-philosophical* (or minor/optional) values--including physical appearance--that elicit a positive evaluation, without any further *expectations* of greater value. This is very very different from feigning ignorance, which is evasion that Inspector wishes to warn against."

This is his claim... but I think this is a floating abstraction that cannot be concertized in most cases. See this:

"I'm not evading the possibility because I full expect some nonsense to be uttered. If the nonsense is actually philosophically depraved, then yes, I will respond with disgust, and to engage in a sexual union with someone I despise for their views is wrong."

And, without dating them - without getting to know them or seeking to learn or understand what kind of being they are beyond their opinion of American Idol - how exactly does he know that they won't utter something depraved? In fact, even absent that, why the avoidance of their spiritual side? He says he knows ahead of time that he doesn't have any interest in it. That's a euphemism. He would dislike it if he were actively exposed to it - i.e. if he had to take cognizance of it and not blank it out.

Fact is, he's clearly holding his nose with this kind of person, avoiding their (disgusting) spirit in order to engage in a purely physical (or 99.99999% purely physical) act.

It goes to show you that I was right to say that he has the backwards, hedonist's, view of sex that I described in the link I provided. The view that seeks "sex" - sex as such - as an end in itself, and not a means of expressing spiritual value: thus reversing cause and effect.

"In that sense, Inspector's definition provided early on is not relevant to this discussion on casual sex. But I suspect, he has been operating on that definition all along, which is why he ended accusing me of evasion, philosophical smuggling, and whatever else."

I actually hadn't accused him of evading; I had been warning that it was dangerous to what he was proposing. But the more he describes his actions, the more it sounds that way.

As for definitions, naturally I was operating on a definition of "casual sex" that was not immoral; I was being generous and assuming it was a definitional issue.

I see now that this generosity was misplaced. As I have said several times, I believe that Ergo uses that term to subsume some moral and some immoral ideas.

Of course, I maintain my original position - that it is a dangerous mis-use of the term to mean any temporally short sexual relationship. "Casual" refers to the seriousness that one places on the evaluation of the partner. It means that one does not know, does not care, and/or does not care to know the value of the partner beyond the superficial (such as physical appearance). This is certainly immoral and is clearly the definition that is denoted, connoted, and is what Ayn Rand had in mind when she condemned it in the quotes that I provided.

Myrhaf's definition: "sex with someone with whom you have no intention of forging a lasting relationship." is very broad, and can subsume the above, but also subsumes the kind of serious, value-interested affairs that I meant. The correct term for what Myrhaf said is simply, "affair," which by itself is not specific enough to say whether it is moral or immoral.

"Casual sex" is specific enough to say that it is destructive hedonism. (which is exactly why Ayn Rand said just that in the quotes I provided)

Ergo said...

"And, without dating them - without getting to know them or seeking to learn or understand what kind of being they are beyond their opinion of American Idol - how exactly does he know that they won't utter something depraved? In fact, even absent that, why the avoidance of their spiritual side?"

Inspector, you wouldn't have needed to ask those questions if you would have read my early comments carefully. It's increasingly frustrating to have to repeat myself.

CONTEXT is EVERYTHING. How do I know--before dating them--what kind of men I expect to meet in my context? I responded to this earlier in among my first comments, in the context of "Being Gay in India."

There is no avoidance of the spiritual side; in fact, most people do not even have a spiritual side. Most are pragmatic, concrete-bound, directionless individuals; very few are even occassionally rational. Very very few people are not mystical, religious, or superstitious (especially in my own context in India), further few are atheist or atleast scientifically skeptical, and then practically none are Objectivists.

So, it's *not* avoidance of their spiritual side, it's already having a *PRETTY GOOD IDEA* of what to expect given the society you live in... and just steering clear of having to engage in conversations on such topics. It's better to talk about fashion or sports or TV with most of these peple and still have a fun, enjoyable evening!

CONTEXT, Inpector, KEEP THE CONTEXT! It's not all "CHURCH" when it comes to interacting with people.

I pointed out in one of my earliest comments that what maybe morally permissible in one context may not be so in another context. Re-read Rand's essay on How to live a rational life in an irrational society, and think of how her principles can be applied to a foreign context.

For example, (note how Inspector's comments throughout here are so devoid of illustrations and examples tied to reality, but are liberally laced with moralizing and psychologizing): when I meet new acquaintances or family-friends, to maintain a polite evening at dinner, we usually tend to steer clear off conversations that summon our deepest and strongest philosophical values, opinions, or our most significant moral views.

Often, we do this because we *already* have some implicit clue that there may be bitter disagreement. Any intelligent thinker can make such educated estimations given a certain context. (In fact, this scenario actually happened with me and a family friend at a family dinner. We ended up just short of yelling at each other from across the table regarding out vehement philosophical oppositions!)

Inspector loves to psychologize about my psychological motivations, to speculate on what I'm thinking, and then to moralize on that. He does this obviously with no regard for context and evidence or even a reality-based illustration.

This is the problem with such abstract, a-contextual, moralizing--it becomes dogmatic, much like an evangelist sermonizing from a bully-pulpit.

Inspector views "sex as a means of expressing spiritual value." This definition is incomplete. Sex is not only a means of expressing spiritual value, it is also an emotional *experience* of one's own intellectual and spiritual values. The experience of sex is primarily self-directed and selfish, like the apprehension of art is; it is primarily personal.

Nevertheless, given Inspector's definition, I'm not sure how he squares his opinion that masturbation is also sex with the above view. Note how he has skirted explaining this issue all along (knowingly or not), because it is a crucial aspect of his argument: he wishes to hold that masturbation is sex and therefore adequately meets the physical needs of sex. For this, he has to deny that sex is inseperable from the context of two individuals and is a selfish experience of one's own values primarily--an affirmation of one's own efficacy, masculinity, sexuality, and ultimately, one's own physical existence.

In the context of casual sex, the experience of one's own values of physical potency, masculinity, efficacy, health, etc., are properly realizable so long as you are enjoying the sex because you are also enjoying the company of your partner, i.e., you do not despise them and you know who they are. (knowing who they are needn't entail a full knowledge of their core spiritual motivations, their essential identity, philosophic values, etc. This is neither possible even in sex among newly dating couples, and sometimes is not achieved until years into being with someone.)

And finally, Inspector continues to twist Rand's quote to support his point; but it doesn't work. Rand, in that quote, is specifically referring to a "depraved" or *despised* partner; i.e., one who is spiritually depraved and is despised by the other. No one is contesting that having sex with such a depraved and despised partner is indiscriminate and therefore hedonistic or promiscuous.

But Inspector continues to conflate my views with hedonism, thus showing that either he doesn't know his definitions, or does not know the difference between the different types of sexual acts (despite my repeated demarcations of each), and has failed (or is unable) to think without dropping contexts and outside of his dogmatic adherence to undisgested principles (like he does with the case of "masturbation is sex.")

His bleak prescription to be sexually moral constitutes masturbating in the lonely privacy of your home or being a celibate pressure cooker held back from a total mental and psychological breakdown by some moralist abtraction.

Inspector said...

Ergo's tone and insult level has degenerated such that I will assume no holds are any longer barred. You know, I really don't like getting into it like this. I prefer to disagree, and keep the points academic. Manners stay in place and nobody gets accused of anything. But, some people just have to start flinging insults.

He asked for this...

"Inspector loves to psychologize about my psychological motivations, to speculate on what I'm thinking, and then to moralize on that. He does this obviously with no regard for context and evidence or even a reality-based illustration."

Oh, I love to, do I? As if that isn't psychologizing!

Listen: I have not psychologized Ergo - he has been the one who has provided all the claims about his own psychology. I didn't accuse him of evasion; I said it was a danger in the realm of relationship under discussion and provided an explanation as to how it could happen. He is the one who then came out and said that he was doing just that and there was nothing wrong with it.

"So, it's *not* avoidance of their spiritual side, it's already having a *PRETTY GOOD IDEA* of what to expect given the society you live in... and just steering clear of having to engage in conversations on such topics."

It's not avoiding their spiritual side, it's knowing it is awful and wanting nothing to do with it. And then having sex with that person. That is better, somehow.

"Often, we do this because we *already* have some implicit clue that there may be bitter disagreement."

Translation: If I actually talked to people about core values I would no longer want to have sex with them. And that wouldn't do at all, since I neeeeed sex (sex as such) regardless of the fact that I wouldn't want it if I was actually considering the worth of the people involved and not blanking it out.

Oh, but context is everything. Somehow.

"Sex is not only a means of expressing spiritual value, it is also an emotional *experience* of one's own intellectual and spiritual values."

And one can experience one's own value by joining with someone that one does not value?

"Note how he has skirted explaining this issue all along"

"Skirted." Well slap a dress on me and call me Sally, but I already explained that I've gotten way to far into this thing.

"he wishes to hold that masturbation is sex and therefore adequately meets the physical needs of sex."

Physically speaking, that is a biological fact.

"For this, he has to deny that sex is inseperable from the context of two individuals and is a selfish experience of one's own values primarily--an affirmation of one's own efficacy, masculinity, sexuality, and ultimately, one's own physical existence."

Don't have to deny it at all; never did. If one actually reads what I said, that is. (and it's supposed to affirm all those things with someone you don't respect at all, spiritually?)

"In the context of casual sex, the experience of one's own values of physical potency, masculinity, efficacy, health, etc., are properly realizable so long as you are enjoying the sex because you are also enjoying the company of your partner..."

Enjoying their company because you have steered the conversation clear of any meaningful values and don't intend to stick around long enough to ever be exposed to them. I.e. enjoying their company by evading their essential nature.

"His bleak prescription to be sexually moral constitutes masturbating in the lonely privacy of your home or being a celibate pressure cooker held back from a total mental and psychological breakdown by some moralist abtraction."

Yes, not blanking out your actual evaluation of another is "bleak." Not faking reality is "bleak." Listen, if you live in a society filled with awful people - THAT is bleak. The fact that you can't evade reality to pretend that you don't live in a society like that is not "bleak." That's just reality.

He's blaming me and my refusal to ditch reality on the troubles that his reality causes him.

And he calls me sad.

And what's with the put-downs on masturbation? Do I detect a "leftover Christian" element that disdains it?

Ergo said...

Inspector is left arguing that unless one has discovered the spiritual and philosophically-significant values of a person, one cannot have any positive assessment of that person.

This is just another sign of abtract moralizing and a sadly malevolent view of the universe and of every potential person one encounters.

Next, with regard to his "translation":

I had said that one can have a pretty good idea of what to *expect* in terms of philosophical values from the people one meets in an irrational society; this follows from the fact that most people are mostly irrational anyway, and particularly prevalent in irrational societies.

This point Inspector translates as
"KNOWING" the philosophical values of your partner "and wanting nothing to do with it and having sex anyway."

Does it escape his analysis that *expecting* a certain philosophical view from most people around you is different from *knowing* that the person you are actually talking to really holds some specific philosophic view or value?? Or is Inspector being deliberately dishonest in twisting the meaning of my words to make it sound like I'm advocating what he wishes I were??

His other "translations" are no different. And he seems to insist that every casual interaction with a person *must* need to involve a discussion of "core values", even if it's a discussion with someone one has no intent of pursing anything serious or romantically committed with.

Is he even aware of the principle of justice in Objectivism? Do NOT assume to KNOW what people's philosophic values are--and hold a prejudicial disposition to moralize about them at the slightest opportunity--unless you are given direct evidence of their depravity deserving condemndation.

In other words, just because one can EXPECT to meet more irrational people in one's life, does NOT mean that the person you are ACTUALLY talking to holds some depraved philosophic view. And particularly when you are not interested in any long-term investment or engagement in some person, it is better to steer clear from such significant topics because one *could* be frustrated, not *necessarily* will be. Here again, the morality of the situation depends on the context.

In fact, it is most likely the case that the majority of the people we meet in life hold a set of mostly irrational beliefs; nonetheless, many of these people are our friends, our colleagues, our family members, our teachers, our mentors, people whom we would also respect.

We *DO NOT* despise them all because of some irrational belief; we condemn a wrong idea when we encounter it, but we don't despise the person unless we are clear of their reasons and motivations. It is rather infrequent to *despise* someone enough to not even talk to them--let alone even have sex with them.

Therefore, while you can reasonably *expect* something irrational from your partner in an irrational society, you have no legitimacy in assuming that they actually at that moment hold some view or some belief that is so depraved that you wish to not have anything to do with them. Sure, you may learn that they're professing something irrational; mostly such irrationalities are the result of cognitive and philosophic confusion, sloppiness, or ignorance of alternative viewpoints. Ultimately, you have to decide with ACTUAL evidence given to you, how bad one's philosophic values are and how much of those values are a result of insidious beliefs and not just some benign confusion.

Finally, your context will dictate if you wish to spend the time unraveling the underlying motive of their irrationality; sure, you have an obligation to investigate this matter if you are *serious* about dating this person or pursuing something romantic. But if you are not interested in such a possibility, then you are well within your RIGHTS and MORALITY to not assume the worst of your partner's motivations and enjoy his company for the evening.

To be like Inspector, and just assume the WORST from your partner because they are NOT John Galt or Howard Roark, is against the principle of justice and benevolence, and just plainly, NOT Objectivism--his vehement and insultingly rude assertions notwithstanding.

Inspector can make the last comment. I'm expecting more twisted psychologizing and moralizing of my views.

Inspector said...

"Does it escape his analysis that *expecting* a certain philosophical view from most people around you is different from *knowing* that the person you are actually talking to really holds some specific philosophic view or value??"

This is the final effort to twist things around and it's getting more shrill, desperate, and dishonest.

All I have to do is take what he's saying and remove the fluff. State it simply.

Watch:

"And he seems to insist that every casual interaction with a person *must* need to involve a discussion of "core values", even if it's a discussion with someone one has no intent of pursing anything serious or romantically committed with."

"Interaction" is a euphemism here. He's making it sound like I'm saying that you have to discuss core values to say hello to someone. No, we're discussing sex here. Remember that?

"Is he even aware of the principle of justice in Objectivism? Do NOT assume to KNOW what people's philosophic values are--and hold a prejudicial disposition to moralize about them at the slightest opportunity--unless you are given direct evidence of their depravity deserving condemndation."

This is where it really comes out. Remember, he's talking about specifically avoiding deep conversations with people - in order to have sex with them. Why is he avoiding deep conversation? By his own words, because he thinks he will probably disagree with them (and therefore won't be able to use them for sex). He wants to avoid core values, and since he does not know they are bad then he is perfect moral to sex away. He is claiming that if you avoid learning core values then you MUST assume they are good (and sex away!) because if you do not then you must be an eeevil malevolent universer!

Note also the he is the one who said that he was avoiding core values to avoid peoples' evil, not me. He's attributing all this supposedly malevolent views to me when I am simply discussing his own statements.

"In other words, just because one can EXPECT to meet more irrational people in one's life, does NOT mean that the person you are ACTUALLY talking to holds some depraved philosophic view."

The person you're "talking" to? "Talk" is not the four-letter word that that is under discussion here.

"...it is better to steer clear from such significant topics because one *could* be frustrated, not *necessarily* will be."

This is his idea, naked. He couldn't state it more perfectly! One's efforts to mindlessly screw them could be frustrated if one were to learn their values.

Indeed! And we can't have that.

"It is rather infrequent to *despise* someone enough to not even talk to them--let alone even have sex with them."

Not talk to them, "let alone even have sex with them" (?!?!?) So, let me get this straight: sex is less significant than talking? This is the chickens coming home to roost, folks.

"Therefore, while you can reasonably *expect* something irrational from your partner in an irrational society, you have no legitimacy in assuming that they actually at that moment hold some view or some belief that is so depraved that you wish to not have anything to do with them."

And best not to find out. It could be "frustrating."

"Finally, your context will dictate if you wish to spend the time unraveling the underlying motive of their irrationality; sure, you have an obligation to investigate this matter if you are *serious* about dating this person or pursuing something romantic. But if you are not interested in such a possibility, then you are well within your RIGHTS and MORALITY to not assume the worst of your partner's motivations and enjoy his company for the evening."

Another euphemism! He's making it sound like you shouldn't enjoy a pleasant conversation about American Idol.

Oh, if you are *serious* about that person then you might have to find out what they're all about. But if you're just using them for mindless sex, then you've no moral obligation whatsoever. Riiight.

"To be like Inspector, and just assume the WORST from your partner because they are NOT John Galt or Howard Roark, is against the principle of justice and benevolence, and just plainly, NOT Objectivism--his vehement and insultingly rude assertions notwithstanding."

If one is deliberately avoiding knowing the deep values of one's human sex tool because one is pretty sure they are irrational (that's by his own statements, folks), then it is AGAINST OBJECTIVISM to "assume" that they are in fact irrational. That would be malevolent universe, you see.

Well. We are through the looking glass here, people.

(oh, and he makes a pathetic protest that this has gotten rude, even though he's the one who started in with that)