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I'm curious about something...

Does the fact that a large percentage of people today are homosexual affect Ayn Rand's theory on sexual relations and their emotional consequences? I know that most of the whole 'Coming out of the closet' movement happened after she died; is there an official Objectivist position on this matter? (I have my own conclusion, but I wanted to check it against other's ideas.)

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I'm curious about something...

Does the fact that a large percentage of people today are homosexual affect Ayn Rand's theory on sexual relations and their emotional consequences?  I know that most of the whole 'Coming out of the closet' movement happened after she died; is there an official Objectivist position on this matter?  (I have my own conclusion, but I wanted to check it against other's ideas.)

What is a "large percentage?" Double digits?

My understanding is that homosexuality is the result of a definite change in the chemical nature of the brain; as such it is metaphysically given and no more moral or immoral than heterosexuality.

As long as sex is adult, consensual, and based on a rational evaluation of one's self and one's partner, no immorality is involved. I've seen some small indications here that Ayn Rand personally found homosexuality, well, disgusting, but there is nothing I can find in Objectivism to indicate that it is immoral.

The opposite sexual inclination is generally difficult to understand for people that don't possess it. Most of Ayn Rand's writing about relationships was based on heterosexual couples. So I suppose homosexual couples will have to figure out the right kind of relationship for themselves. :thumbsup:

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[...] is there an official Objectivist position on this matter?

What do you mean by "official Objectivist position"?

Objectivism is a philosophy, that is, a set of principles that apply to all individuals, everywhere, and at all times. A philosophy is not a set of views on the psychology of particular types of individuals.

Ayn Rand's philosophy is contained in her published writings. Objectivism is thus a closed philosophy, because its creator has died. There is no official position other than what her philosophical writings say, in full context.

(I have my own conclusion, but I wanted to check it against other's ideas.)

If you don't present it, no one can critique it or add to it. What is your conclusion?

P. S. -- Have you read the other threads on homosexuality?

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The emotional hypothesis of Objectivism has the idea that a person's value system is at the core of all of their emotions (including sexual desire) and as such, I was wondering something along the lines of, "How does homosexuality fit into the big picture?" or "Does the fact(?) that homosexuality/heterosexuality is unchosen mean that some aspects of sexual desire are not value driven?".

This is like asking if the fact that some people are allergic to chocolate means that some aspects of food choice are not value-driven.

Values drive your choice of a particular partner, however I am reasonably sure that they do not drive your choice respecting the gender of your partner. In other words: biology (the metaphysically given) ascribes the width of the field of your endeavor, however your personal values etc. describe the progress of that endeavor.

It is a tenent of Objectivism that one should not rebel against the metaphysically given (there's no point) or accept as given the man-made (which is suicidal).

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I think it was in Atlas Shrugged that it was said Hank Rearden (I think) loved Francisco D'Anconia (or whoever it was). Anyway, it was love towards another man - that I'm sure of. The problem is that to find where this was said, I'd have to re-read the entire Atlas Shrugged because I completely forgot when and where it is. It's just a small mention somewhere in those 1000 something pages of text.

Anyway, my own oppinion is clear. I don't find homosexuality as immoral. It is a matter of personal choice. Whan I look at Ayn Rand's definition of love, I see no reason why it would not be possible for man to find his highest values embodied in another man (or similar for women).

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Why is attraction biological JMeganSnow?

I thought humans were born tabula rasa, so this would apply to sexual attraction as well.

I apologize, I was referring to (relatively) recent evidence that suggests homosexuals have a differing brain structures from heterosexuals. However, this is only a LITTLE evidence and, as I said, it only SUGGESTS. Sexuality is so complicated that I really think you can't answer this one with philosophy. Most of the homosexuals I know are very pleasant people, quite intelligent, and fully rational.

Personally, I liken the difference to not liking chocolate. I can't understand it. I LOVE chocolate. But it's not my business.

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I apologize, I was referring to (relatively) recent evidence that suggests homosexuals have a differing brain structures from heterosexuals.  However, this is only a LITTLE evidence and, as I said, it only SUGGESTS.

And it could very well be that the differing "brain structures", as you've put it, are an effect of homosexuality and not its cause.

Similar reversals of cause and effect I suspect largely in the current pill-pusher industry, selling pills for everything from depression to anxiety. And while I do not doubt that these drugs might be effective at eliminating or cutting off the chemical process which causes the emotional response, that doesn't mean that the mental state which caused the chemical "imbalance" has been dealt with at all.

I am not anxious for science to figure out how to cripple my emotional mechanism, but that seems to be exactly what's happening.

But I digress..

Because people are born tabula rasa, and because volition trumps all environmental factors affecting a mind, it seems unlikely that homosexuality is anything other than a choice a person makes. The fact of it being a subconscious one, not made in fully explicit awareness of the facts and premises which leads to a person to this type of desire, doesn't make it any less a choice.

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Because people are born tabula rasa, and because volition trumps all environmental factors affecting a mind, it seems unlikely that homosexuality is anything other than a choice a person makes.  The fact of it being a subconscious one, not made in fully explicit awareness of the facts and premises which leads to a person to this type of desire, doesn't make it any less a choice.

I'll admit that I could be biased since I am a gay man, but I have a hard time believing that something as fundamental as my sexuality could have been chosen, even on a subconscious level, early in my life. I remember having gay feelings as early as age eight and, previous to that, I believed, naively, that sex was a synonym for kissing.

I'm reserving judgement for now because I'm not qualified to make such a judgement as I'm not a biologist or a psychologist. However, from my personal experience, I tend to lean towards thinking it's more biological than psychological.

Something that it seems few people have considered to this point is: what if the "cause" of homosexuality varies from person to person? In some people, it could be psychological while in others it could be genetic.

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In some people, it could be psychological while in others it could be genetic.

Redfarmer, do you believe people are born tabula rasa?

I think the problem here is a false dichotomy of simple choice (that one can easily switch their attraction on and off) and biological determinism. From philosophy, we can conclude that sexual attraction is not genetic--biologically determined at birth. However, it takes psychology to determine how exactly attraction develops in a young child's mind.

Generally, "plumper" women were found more attractive a few centuries ago, in fact, some of the most beautiful women by many people's standards today would be found unattractive by most. Since I am a descendent from this past generation, how come I find extremely lean women attractive?

Often times, events, such as traumas during childhood, lead to large changes in sexual behaviour. For example, there were studies done among adults who were young children during the bombing raids on Berlin, and the homosexual population was found to be much higher. That's not to say homosexuals are traumatised as youngsters, maybe something perfectly common sparked it. One example I heard used was like this: A man is extremely attracted to women when they wear leather, which may have been due to being held up against his mum's leather jacket when he was little.

There is a common psychological theory that sexuality (and fetishes) can be sparked by a certain event in the environment of a young mind. "Wiring" is still being created at this time, so once the brain is fully developed, the attraction may be extremely hard to get rid of consciously. I am siding toward that theory, but philosophically I can say without doubt that attraction is not determined before birth.

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There is a common psychological theory that sexuality (and fetishes) can be sparked by a certain event in the environment of a young mind.

The question I would have is: if being straight is "normal" but being gay requires a psychological trigger during a young age, why doesn't being straight require a psychological trigger as well? It doesn't follow and it doesn't make any logical sense.

Frankly, I think we're jumping the gun on making assumptions before enough scientific data is in. If the evidence shows homosexuality to be psychological, I will accept that and go on with my life. I want to see the evidence, though, instead of a bunch of half baked evidence.

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I believe people are born tabula rasa in the sense that they are not born with any conceptual knowledge. However, I do not think that all emotions are a derivative of conceptual knowledge, and therefore, I do not think that people are necessarily emotionally a blank slate at birth.

Why? In regards to sex, I find that, through introspection, some of my emotions are pre-conceptual - that they have nothing to do with any choices I have made in the past in thinking or failing to think - and no amount of thinking on my part has made, or will make them go away. The only free-will I have possessed so far is in how and whether I choose to act on these emotions.

This leads me to conclude that either I was born with these emotional responses, or that I somehow picked them up from the outside world as an accident, rather than through the choice not to think. The latter could be because the origins of the emotions occur prior to my mind fully developing and advancing to a the conceptual level. Through experience, I strongly believe this to be the case, because I have a sexual "fetish" that began before the age of five (though there was nothing sexual about it at the time, it became arousing later on) without a trace of logic or reason behind it. Trying to eradicate this emotional response has been impossible.

Observe that it is more difficult to learn something new the older you get. In reverse, something is learned, or "absorbed" easier the younger a person is. With this being true, it might also follow that some learned emotional responses are harder to eradicate the younger you are, just as in the reverse a person resists a foreign idea the older they are (they're "set in their ways"). A child has less of a conceptual framework to depend on, and is more likely to make errors and develop irrational connections and emotional responses. If such an emotional response is both irrational and developed at a very young age, perhaps before the child is fully able to deal with concepts, it might never be unlearned. Of course, I acknowledge that this is just speculation. I can only say that it corresponds with what I know about myself.

In short, I think we are a blank slate in regards to knowledge, but not necessarily in regards to emotion, and nor am I convinced that all emotions are derived from the concepts we form as a result of thinking or failing to think. I believe that sexual emotions are exempt from this, as I have discovered from my own experience and introspection. And therefore, I think it is very likely that homosexuality is not a choice, nor the result of choices made.

p.s. I recommend this book. I remember it having a whole section on homosexuality, and it presents a case for homosexuality being "biological" convincingly and objectively. Though I don't remember the exact details as it was many years ago that I last read it (otherwise I would mention more about its content).

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The question I would have is: if being straight is "normal" but being gay requires a psychological  trigger during a young age, why doesn't being straight require a psychological trigger as well? It doesn't follow and it doesn't make any logical sense.

Of course it dosn't make any logical sense, because you're attacking a straw man. Who said straight people are exempt from the effects of the environment?

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Of course it dosn't make any logical sense, because you're attacking a straw man. Who said straight people are exempt from the effects of the environment?

That's not what I said at all. Of course straight people are affected by their environment. The question was: what makes straight people straight?

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That's not what I said at all. Of course straight people are affected by their environment.

I don't buy into behaviorism/determinism as far as I can throw it (i.e. people are "products" of their environment). Such a premise throws volition completely out the window. Volition is the deciding factor that makes up a person's character and the contents of his mind, not anything physiological, genetic, or environmental.

Your subconscious, the "wiring" referred to earlier, is a completely blank slate when you are born. You choose its contents, whether you acknowledge those choices or not. Yes, you can only choose what you perceive, think, or are told by others in the course of your life, but that doesn't make it any less a choice. The course of your life and your mind can always present you with alternatives -- inasmuch as you choose to focus on them.

Consciousness is not automatic, and the subconscious presupposes a consciousness to program it.

This leads me to conclude that either I was born with these emotional responses, or that I somehow picked them up from the outside world as an accident, rather than through the choice not to think.

From OPAR, page 154 (paperback) (Emotions as the Product of Ideas):

"A feeling or emotion is a response to an object one person perceives (or imagines), such as a man, an animal, an event. The object by itself, however, has no power to invoke a feeling in the observer. It can do so only if he supplies two intellectual elements, which are necessary conditions of emotion.

First, the person must know in some terms what the object is. He must have some understanding or identification of it (whether true or false, specific or generalized, explicit or implicit). Otherwise, to him, the object is nothing; it is a mere cognitive blank, to which no one can respond.

Second, the person must evaluate the object. He must conclude that it is good or bad, desirable or undesirable, for his values or against them. Here too the mental content may take many forms; the value-judgements being applied may be explicit or implicit, rational or contradictory, sharply defined or vague, consciously known to the person or unidentified, even repressed."

The way I understand it, to be homosexual is to value sexual relationships with same-sex partners -- and one cannot value anything without value-judgements, and one cannot form value-judgements without volition.

Another way to describe it is a positive emotional response to the idea of same-sex partnering, which again -- has "volition" as an antecedant, in the value-judgement necessary to generate such an emotional response.

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In regards to sex, I find that, through introspection, some of my emotions are pre-conceptual - that they have nothing to do with any choices I have made in the past in thinking or failing to think - and no amount of thinking on my part has made, or will make them go away. The only free-will I have possessed so far is in how and whether I choose to act on these emotions.

Failure to identify the mental choices involved in value-judgements doesn't make them non-existent. Remember that value-judgements can be based on implicit or even fuzzy or repressed identifications or valuations. If one is introspecting and remembering only at one's explicit thoughts, one might not see them. One must also examine one's past emotions and ask themselves "why?"

If such an emotional response is both irrational and developed at a very young age, perhaps before the child is fully able to deal with concepts, it might never be unlearned.

This acknowledges and is consistent with the programming done of the subconscious, if you mean "learn" to be "program the subconscious". But one doesn't "unlearn" in any sense, one must replace the knowledge or irrational premise with a new, correct idea -- and fully integrate it with all the other knowledge one holds. Further, this process must be repeated in full many times before the subconscious is reprogrammed -- in fact, in my experience, as many times as it took to reinforce the wrong emotional response in the first place. This is always excruciating, and sometimes painful, but it can be done with -any- value-judgement one wishes to change.

But of course, for any of this to transpire -- one must see a need to change it, and one must choose it for themselves -- just as they chose their current state in the first place.

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That's not what I said at all. Of course straight people are affected by their environment. The question was: what makes straight people straight?

No it wasn't. First you started off implying that I had said heterosexuals are "normal"--and therefore homosexuals are the only ones whose psychology is affected by environment when young. You're neglecting that I've said men are born tabula rasa, and therefore all men form sexual attraction from influences at a young age--if you agree with the psychological theory I presented.

I asked you why you think straight people are exempt from the theory because I thought you would then realize that it applies to everyone. You had all the necessary information to come to a realization that I felt was fairly obvious. How long did you wait to think about what I had wrote before you replied?

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Second, the person must evaluate the object.  He must conclude that it is good or bad, desirable or undesirable, for his values or against them.  Here too the mental content may take many forms; the value-judgements being applied may be explicit or implicit, rational or contradictory, sharply defined or vague, consciously known to the person or unidentified, even repressed."

I don't think that a value judgement is occuring in emotions that trigger sexual arousal. I don't think, for instance, that there is any psycho-epistemological factor as to why a man ought to find a woman's breasts more arousing than a man's penis. Or even an inanimate object.

If sexual emotions are the result of value judgements, what part of a value judgement determines its nature as being "sexual"? Why is a woman's body (for a man) a legitimate object of sexual desire, but another object, such as a man's body, is not? What psycho-epistemology must a man possess in order to prefer women, and vice versa for women to prefer men? And why will they or should they form these conceptual intergrations over any other, if they are not in any way determined to do so? Which "is" implies the "ought"?

Consider that sexual attraction very often occurs before the child even is aware of what sex is. How is that compatible with the notion that these emotions are purely the result of conceptualizing, and are evaluated in some particular way so as to be "sexual"? How would a person know how to think, and what would they think, so as to regard something as "sexual" as opposed to just "good"? And what logical factor within this evaluation connects it to the proceeding physiological changes that produce the sensations and reflexes of arousal?

I don't think sexual emotions are necessarily to do with valuing something at all. I can find a woman sexually attractive and not want to have sex with her because she's a horrid person. I think the value judgement is not within the evaluating something as sexual (and thereby triggering arousal), but only of the evaluation of that evaluation, i.e. by considering its context.

Let me just clarify that I don't think that all sexual emotions are pre-conceptual. For instance, if a woman is intelligent as well as pretty I may find her more attractive. The emotions I am convinced are determined are in regards to what are the actual objects of attraction, rather than in how I evaluate those objects aftwards.

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I don't think that a value judgement is occuring in emotions that trigger sexual arousal. I don't think, for instance, that there is any psycho-epistemological factor as to why a man ought to find a woman's breasts more arousing than a man's penis. Or even an inanimate object.

I do. I think there are many, many such factors that are summed up by the subconscious.

If sexual emotions are the result of value judgements, what part of a value judgement determines its nature as being "sexual"? Why is a woman's body (for a man) a legitimate object of sexual desire, but another object, such as a man's body, is not? What psycho-epistemology must a man possess in order to prefer women, and vice versa for women to prefer men? And why will they or should they form these conceptual intergrations over any other, if they are not in any way determined to do so? Which "is" implies the "ought"?
The fact that men and woman have a sex. The fact that men and women are different (and precisely how they are different, in the makeup of the their bodies and the purpose of their various organs) is at the very base of sexual value-judgements. Errors can be made which are not consistent with the metaphysically given fact of their differences and purposes, which leads to the various sexual states of various people.

Do men, in general, wear makeup? Do they grow long hair, put on dresses and heels? Why do women, in general, do these things and not men? If you answer "because they grew up seeing that" well then -- who started it? And why? It wasn't just made up by an individual and propogated by determinism -- it would have died out as a practice long ago if there wasn't a metaphyical connection.

Consider that sexual attraction very often occurs before the child even is aware of what sex is.

Nonsensical. I think you mean before the child is explicitly aware of what sex is, but he is damned well implicitly aware of it if he's feeling it. Again, just because it isn't explicit doesn't make it non-existent.

How is that compatible with the notion that these emotions are purely the result of conceptualizing, and are evaluated in some particular way so as to be "sexual"? How would a person know how to think, and what would they think, so as to regard something as "sexual" as opposed to just "good"? And what logical factor within this evaluation connects it to the proceeding physiological changes that produce the sensations and reflexes of arousal?
There is only one factor I can think of that would fit the description, and that would be an innate physiological need to procreate. But note that prepubescents do not have sexual emotions, and by the time they hit puberty they have plenty of information, both explicit and otherwise, to fuel their value-judgements -- even if they never met another human being in their life and were raised by wolves.

I don't think sexual emotions are necessarily to do with valuing something at all. I can find a woman sexually attractive and not want to have sex with her because she's a horrid person.

To me, that statement would indicate a conflicted emotional state -- which indicates a contradiction somewhere in one's value-judgements. I do not find women sexually attractive unless I know them really, really well -- and they hold the same philosophic values as I. I may find them beautiful or feminine to some degree, but that doesn't mean I get sexually excited at the sight of them.

Edited by TomL

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No it wasn't.

That was indeed my essential question. If I was not clear in it the first time, I apologize.

First you started off implying that I had said heterosexuals are "normal"--and therefore homosexuals are the only ones whose psychology is affected by environment when young.
I conceed that I misunderstood what you wrote the first time around. I can see upon another reading of your previous post that is not what you meant to imply.

You're neglecting that I've said men are born tabula rasa, and therefore all men form sexual attraction from influences at a young age--if you agree with the psychological theory I presented.

I agree that we are born tabula rosa. What I don't agree with--at least not at this point--is that sexuality originates with value judgements and emotions.

I asked you why you think straight people are exempt from the theory because I thought you would then realize that it applies to everyone. You had all the necessary information to come to a realization that I felt was fairly obvious.
I never said that straight people were exempt from this theory. I was simply trying to bring up the point that many have ignored straight people in forming theories about the origins of homosexuality.

How long did you wait to think about what I had wrote before you replied?

Is it really quite necessary for you to make insinuations about the amount of thought I put into a reply just because I misunderstood you?

In summary, I still don't see that we're doing anything in this thread other than forming generalized theories. No one has provided any evidence from either biology or psychology to support their claims and I'm doubt there's much evidence to be found.

As for philisophical basis for sexual theories, Leonard Peikoff, in OPAR, asked Ayn Rand what philosophy had to say about sex. She replied, "That it is good." She considered her own opinions about homosexuals to be outside the realm of philosophy. So do I. I don't claim to know the answers but I'm waiting for someone to show me evidence which backs their claims up.

Whether it sounds like it or not, this thread is helping me clear up some confusion about sexuality.

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The fact that men and woman have a sex.

Means nothing.

The fact that men and women are different (and precisely how they are different, in the makeup of the their bodies and the purpose of their various organs) is at the very base of sexual value-judgements.
My first question was "If sexual emotions are the result of value judgements, what part of a value judgement determines its nature as being "sexual"?". By sexual, I mean the specific logical step of an evaluation that will cause it to to lead to sexual arousal, as opposed to our regarding it as just for or against us. You haven't yet answered this. You have merely said that there are physical aspects of mens and womens bodies that make sex possible between them. Coitus is not the only form of sex. It is just the method by which one makes children. There is no reason to think we should desire sex only in this way.

Errors can be made which are not consistent with the metaphysically given fact of their differences and purposes, which leads to the various sexual states of various people.

If we are tabula rasa, the only differences we possess are physical differences, not differences in consciousness. Where then does the regarding something as sexual become an error? If we merely go by the physical aspects men and women have, then only the prospect of normal man-woman coital sex ought to be arousing, and nothing else. But why is it an "ought"? Just because I can make a fist with my hand that fits the requirement of punching someone to defend myself, doesn't imply that I ought to always use my fists over a gun.

Do men, in general, wear makeup?  Do they grow long hair, put on dresses and heels?  Why do women, in general, do these things and not men?  If you answer "because they grew up seeing that" well then -- who started it?  And why?  It wasn't just made up by an individual and propogated by determinism -- it would have died out as a practice long ago if there wasn't a metaphyical connection.
A metaphysical connection? As opposed to a man made connection? Surely then that means it is propogated by determinism, rather than free-will? I think you worded that wrong.

Nonsensical.  I think you mean before the child is explicitly aware of what sex is, but he is damned well implicitly aware of it if he's feeling it.

The "implicit" is that which is available to your consciousness but which you have not yet conceptualized. For instance, if you state a certain proposition, implicit in it are certain conclusions, but you may not necessarily be aware of them, because a special, seperate act of consciousness is required to draw these consequences and grasp conceptually what is implied in your original statement. The implicit is that which is available to you but which you have not conceptualized.

So to be "implicitly aware" of something is a contradiction.

Anyway, I certainly didn't know what sex was until long after I started feeling sexual arousal.

There is only one factor I can think of that would fit the description, and that would be an innate physiological need to procreate.
But note that prepubescents do not have sexual emotions,

I'd say they do, but they don't actually become "sexual" in the sense of triggering arousal until puberty. They still possess some quality within the evaluation that makes it sexual. In my experience, I've never onced had to perform a conceptual integration in order to regard something as sexual - certainly not after puberty, and certainly never consciously. I'd be interested to know whether you can recall performing a conscious integration prior to being sexually interested in females, and what the logical steps of it are. Even if it wasn't a conscious integration, you should be able to trace every logical step of the evaluation, if it is indeed a conceptual evaluation and not something determined by physical factors. Then, a homosexual only has to see why it is logical for him to prefer women, and over time he will, so long as he acts consistently on his conscious realization. I think that is impossible, since I think the object of attraction is pre-determined, but if you can anatomize and illustrate in detail the proper integration a man should make in order to be aroused by women, I'd be interested to see it.

To me, that statement would indicate a conflicted emotional state -- which indicates a contradiction somewhere in one's value-judgements.  I do not find women sexually attractive unless I know them really, really well -- and they hold the same philosophic values as I.  I may find them beautiful or feminine to some degree, but that doesn't mean I get sexually excited at the sight of them.

Well, I don't get aroused anymore at the mere sight of an attractive woman, but in my early teenage years I certainly did. This change, however, was due to a waning in my overall "libido" rather than the correction of a misintegration. I know I'm not the only one to have experienced this decrease in the initially extremely demanding sexual urges upon growing up.

That being said, I can still get aroused by a woman without knowing anything about her, or even disliking her, e.g. if I am in close proximity with her. What I consciously evaluate proceeding from the arousal may intensify or decrease the arousal, but the arousal itself begins prior to any conceptual evaluation.

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Because people are born tabula rasa, and because volition trumps all environmental factors affecting a mind, it seems unlikely that homosexuality is anything other than a choice a person makes.  The fact of it being a subconscious one, not made in fully explicit awareness of the facts and premises which leads to a person to this type of desire, doesn't make it any less a choice.

What precisely do you mean by the terms 'tabula rasa' and 'subconscious choice' in this context? As far as I'm aware, tabula rasa within Objectivism denotes the fact that humans are not born with any pre-existing concepts. But sexual orientation is not a concept.

Do men, in general, wear makeup? Do they grow long hair, put on dresses and heels? Why do women, in general, do these things and not men? If you answer "because they grew up seeing that" well then -- who started it? And why? It wasn't just made up by an individual and propogated by determinism -- it would have died out as a practice long ago if there wasn't a metaphyical connection.
No more than most cultural conventions have a metaphysical connection. Why do men often wear suits and like football when they didnt 200 years ago? Why do people find tanned skin attractive today, and not a century ago? Sure we can find reasons why these conventions evolved, but a lot of them will just be historical contingencies and vary from culture to culture (I doubt that women having long hair and wearing makeup is a universal human practice). Edited by Hal

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The fact that men and women are different (and precisely how they are different, in the makeup of the their bodies and the purpose of their various organs) is at the very base of sexual value-judgements.

You're implying here that the primary purpose of our organs is to procreate, therefore that should be the primary purpose of using them. Hmmm....

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