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I would say that the reasons for physical attraction depend on a large number of factors, some of which will be volitional and some of which wont. I personally believe (although I know I couldnt conclusively prove) that sexual attraction isnt genetic but is largely dependent on childhood and early teenage conditioning and imprinting. Perhaps genetics may influence a person's preference to some degree, but this can be (and normally is) overridden by social conditioning and conscious choices.

Semantics, again. I am not using "volition" to mean an explicit choice. I am talking about volition as such, and I mean that no such "childhood and early teenage conditioning and imprinting can occurr without volition on the part of the individual. The volition may be utilized implicitly, but it volition nonetheless.

If one sees a redhead in early childhood and has some reason to associate that trait with being good (such as: the redhead taught them something they think is important, or fed them, or whatever) then one might implicitly decide that redheads are physically attractive. Whether or not you are explicitly aware of that decision is beside the point -- it is still up to you, as much as you are willing to be explicitly aware of the contents of your mind, you can influence it, explicitly.

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There are plenty of cases of people who have swapped sexual orientation in their lifetimes, and who were perfectly satisfied at different times they were the opposite orientation.  One example I can think of is "Honey" on the show "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl" (which I watch, by the way), who was married and has a daughter -- and then left her husband for a woman.

I will submit that if anyone can volitionally change their sexual orientation, then everyone has that ability, regardless of whatever variant of "genetic determinism" you wish to ascribe to.  If it is genetic, then it is not up to anyone's decision, and noone can do such a thing.  Thus, there could be no "Honey's" in the world.

You're making a bold, sweeping statement here. Please back it up with evidence.

I am not familiar with Honey, but to give an example, one of my good friends who is gay decided in his late teens that, since it was possible for him to have sex with a woman, he must be straight. So, he married a woman and together they had a son. However, he was completely miserable throughout his marriage and realized that he was gay, that nothing had changed. He put his wife through school so she would be able to support herself on her own and then divorced her. He tells me he's never been happier than when he finally accepted himself.

Even if sexuality is psychologically determined, you have yet to present evidence that psychologists are in any position in the current state of psychological medicine to "treat" homosexuality. In fact, the only form of therapy for homosexuality, reparative therapy, is almost universally accepted by psychologists and medical practitioners to be ineffective and dangerous (many people who go through reparative therapy end up worse off than before).

You are also ignoring the possibility that Honey could be bisexual. I doubt that you know her and could ask her if she is still attracted to men or if she was attracted to women while she was married. Unless you know the facts in her case, please do not use her as an example.

I would agree with you 100% that the decision to act upon or not act upon your sexuality is entirely volitional. What I do not see you proving is that the drive itself is volitional.

Believe me, if it were possible to change your sexuality under our current level of understanding of the subject, I would be straight today. However, I am absolutely 100% unequivocally not attracted to women sexually despite the effort I put into attempting to change in my teenage years. I spent so much time and money on the subject in an attempt to change but all I ended up doing was plunging myself into a deep dark pit of depression which I am only now emerging from.

Please, please, please, never try to tell a homosexual that he can change if he only tries hard enough. If that were possible, I doubt there would be very many gay people left in the world.

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You're making a bold, sweeping statement here. Please back it up with evidence.

The only evidence (specifics) I really have is personal, that I don't wish to share. But I think anyone with a good handle on introspection can do this themselves.

I am not familiar with Honey, but to give an example, one of my good friends who is gay decided in his late teens that, since it was possible for him to have sex with a woman, he must be straight.
That would be wrong of him to do so just on that basis alone. If he -wanted- to be straight, he would have to retrain his subconscious value-judgements that lead to his sexual orientation. You cannot simply declare it to be so and then try to force it, without retraining the underlying psychological makeup.

Even if sexuality is psychologically determined, you have yet to present evidence that psychologists are in any position in the current state of psychological medicine to "treat" homosexuality.

You misunderstand me. I am not opposed to homosexuality, as I do not consider it to be a value-judgement of moral significance to others (i.e. it doesn't harm other people). I think that a person who makes such a choice could potentially be happier being straight, but its up to them to want it first, and its not something that ought to be "repaired" by others. If they -do- want it, they must have a reason for it, and it must be because they think they will be happier for themselves, and not because they think it will make them more acceptable to other people.

I would agree with you 100% that the decision to act upon or not act upon your sexuality is entirely volitional. What I do not see you proving is that the drive itself is volitional.
The "drive", as you put it, is an emotional response -- and emotional responses are the results of one's thoughts and value-judgements, summed up over time. If it were somehow innate, it would be innate at birth and one would be sexually attracted to other people as an infant, toddler, and small child. But people of such age know no sexual attraction of ANY kind.

[snip]

Please, please, please, never try to tell a homosexual that he can change if he only tries hard enough. If that were possible, I doubt there would be very many gay people left in the world.

I had no idea, and I do respect your intellectualism and your posts here. I don't mean that all is required is for one to "try hard enough"... that is insufficient. One must also understand the specific details in the subconscious process by which one became homosexual in the first place, and if you cannot remember or get in touch with those reasons, then you'll be unable to change them. And, I'm not sure that anyone would ever be able to discover enough of them to actually change the value-judgements once they reach adulthood, since many of these decisions are made when one is fairly young.

In the example of the redhead, you'd have to realize at some point that you made the correlation between her goodness (whatever value you saw in her) and her red hair. I think this is why many men wind up looking for women with similar traits as their mothers, or women as their fathers -- which is quite common.

For example, I find a particular hair color more attractive -- on sight -- than any other. I can look back into my childhood and see why that is. I can also see how my sexual value-judgements have changed over the course of my adult life, and how those changes relate to my mental status and premises. It's been largely due to my identity change through discovering and integrating Objectivism, but I definitely have a different standard of sexual attraction than I used to.

I haven't done anything as drastic as change orientation, but I can see how enough change in one's identity could possibly facilitate that, and I don't think that anything less than a massive change in one's identity could do so.

Remember, I'm the one (possibly in another thread) who said that sex is the act of bringing the total summation of one's identity into existence, so everything that you are -- everything that makes up the contents of your mind, everything you value, all the details that went in to training your subconscious -- are personified in your sex.

Edited by TomL

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Means nothing.

Means plenty. If people did not have a sex, we would not be having this discussion at all because there would be no division of biological function, no "homosexual", "heterosexual", or "bisexual".

There would also be no "feminine" or "masculine" -- think about that. What is it that anyone -- heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual -- values in a partner sexually? Specifically, either their feminity or masculinity.

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.
To answer the question: All of a value-judgement goes toward sexuality. Sexuality is determined by identity. It is the physical manifestion of one's self-image, one's premises, and one's ideas. It is a total summation of oneself. You cannot separate out one individual part and say "this part here caused the sexual idea". It is everything that a person is that determines their sexuality.

But, there is one particular property of values which specifically leads to sexual desire and that is the determination of and valuation of something as being either feminine or masculine. I don't mean that everyone is always consistently attracted to either femininity or masculinity -- obviously, bixsexuals are not consistent in that sense.

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.

I said that, but I also said that the fact of men and women being rational, conceptual, volitional creatures was also a factor. In fact, this particular fact is what leads to human desire for sex beyond procreational needs. It does not, however, mean that one should throw biology (or what the biology leads to psychologically in the sexes) out the window.

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.
If you mean "we" to be "men and women", then my reply is: we start out with only physical differences, but we don't stay that way. We develop differences in consciousness as we grow. Females, because they have biological parts which can only have a purpose if they obtain a man, will develop a desire to attract men. This is why women become feminine -- as a lure, or bait, if you will. They are biologically incomplete in that they are incapable of using all the organs they are equipped with, and this has a very real impact on them. I am speaking of course of women in general here, obviously not of all women. From there, however, you add in abstractions such as moral values, and the desires are modified. If we were only animals acting on percepts, then you would be right to say that only procreative sex would be arousing -- just as it is for other animals. But we are animals and more than that. But because we are more does not make us non-animals. I could also note that in the wild among lesser animals, the incidence of homosexuality is virtually nil. Anyone engaged in the most elementary animal observation is forced to conclude that animal homosexuality is an exception to normal animal behavior. Consequently, homosexuality cannot be called an animal instinct. These observable exceptions to normal animal behavior result from factors beyond their instincts.

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.

I mean that there is a real connection between femininity and the metaphysically given facts of man's sexual biology. A woman definitely chooses to be feminine, or not -- but her biology gives her the starting point from which to make that decision.

So to be "implicitly aware" of something is a contradiction.
I should have said "know" instead of "aware".

However you would like to chop up the words, it is still true that implicit knowledge is still knowledge, and the fact of it being implicit and subconsciously chosen does not abdicate one's responsibility for the choice. You can choose to bring those subconscious choices into a foreground of explicit knowledge through stronger focus and better introspection. Or, you can choose to coast and let your subconscious do the work for you. What most people do is a blend of the two, and the various degrees to which people blend these, they have more or less consistent sexual desires -- in direct proportion to the consisentcy of their own premises and values (both implicit and explicit).

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

You most certainly did. The fact that you didn't explicity know what it was means nothing. You did know, implicitly. If you chose to focus more at that particular time, you could have brought that knowledge into the realm of the explicit. But you had no reason to, weren't being taught to do such things, and so your subconscious did its work without you being aware of it.

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.
You most certainly did make such integrations -- you made them subconsciously, implicitly. Not being explicitly aware of them doesn't mean you didn't do it. And so it is for all emotions, not just sexual desire.

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.

Your demand for a logical deductive proof rests on the premise that such things are done only explicitly, with full awareness of the mental process occurring. Since this is false, you cannot ask for such a proof.

Note: from here I have to use italics instead of quote tags. The board only allows so many quote blocks per post.

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.

A man should value himself as masculine, as having efficacy against nature and with knowledge of his biological status as being a complete biological being (even though in most cases this knowledge is implicit). A woman, then, can be his object of desire as a means of bringing that pride in himself into physical existence. If you would like me to anatomize the entire process of a man's self-esteem process, you're in for an excruciatingly long post. As I've said before, the "atoms" of the process are "any and all value-judgements one makes", and that sex is a total summation of all 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.

The "libido" issue I'm not too concerned with. It may be biological or it may be conceptual, or it may even be some of both. It is true that younger people have a more positive outlook on life, more hope for the future -- and older people are generally more cynical. This will have a direct effect on "libido". How often have you headed home after losing a job, or after a funeral, to have sex? Your mental state has a lot to do with your desire. There is also the fact that younger people are still forming, rather than using and acting on, their philosophic premises. Note that in most people, these premises remain mostly implicit throughout their lives, and are not used consistently. But in the abscence of many implicit premises for the subconscious to summarize, it can act more quickly and more often in favor of a sexual response.

If you are aroused by women in close proximity, it is because you have developed a subconscious connection between proximity to femininity and sexual desire. I think this is common because usually when one is feeling amorous, there is going to be some close proximity involved, and repeated over time (maybe even once, since the result is a fairly powerful feeling) this leads to an automatized emotional response. But again, this is not something you decided explicitly, it was done implicitly.

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