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Physical Attraction To The Opposite Sex

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If I were Asian and I found out you liked me merely because I was Asian, I would be offended and disgusted by you.

That's a little harsh. If a guy is attracted to blondes is that disgusting? It's just a sexual preference. I don't think their is any racist intent there.

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Values and rewarding reletionship is the first criteria, then the second, however admittetly eccentric is Asian.

Why is it eccentric? Doesn't seem any more eccentric than saying that you like white girls or black girls.

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I can't disagree more. This is explicitly a manifestation of mind/body dichotomy, giving primacy to the body. In a properly integrated subconscious, there should be no estimate of "physical beauty" prior to the discovery of the person's character.

 

This is one of the parts of objectivist thought that I disagree with. This view on sex, love and physical beauty, I honestly find a little absurd. I think it stems from two things. Objectivism seems to disregard biology and facts known about evolution. It does not accept man is a biological entity. In my view, one must understand man's metaphysical essence not only philosophically but allow for the expansion of that understanding with scientific discovery.

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This is one of the parts of objectivist thought that I disagree with. This view on sex, love and physical beauty, I honestly find a little absurd. I think it stems from two things. Objectivism seems to disregard biology and facts known about evolution. It does not accept man is a biological entity. In my view, one must understand man's metaphysical essence not only philosophically but allow for the expansion of that understanding with scientific discovery.

That is not Objectivist thought.

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Serendipitously, I noticed at the bottom of the page a quote I've always liked: "Any good, practical philosophy must start out with the recognition of our having a body". [Lin Yutang]

Edited by whYNOT

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As far as I can recall, Rand and the people around her didn't have much to say about physical beauty, quite apart from puzzles over what counts or not as Objectivist thought.

 

As for the rest of #103 I'd like to hear more about your objections.

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Which parts specifically, and why not?

"In a properly integrated subconscious, there should be no estimate of "physical beauty" prior to the discovery of the person's character."

 

He's saying that it's wrong to judge someone's physical beauty without knowledge of their character. Is it not obvious that this is ridiculous? 

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It is obvious... that is ridiculous -- I don't see how judging someone's physical beauty before knowing anything about their character is an example of the "mind-body dichotomy" and an example of an "improperly integrated subconscious." Maybe you can explain *how* it is.

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It is obvious... that is ridiculous -- I don't see how judging someone's physical beauty before knowing anything about their character is an example of the "mind-body dichotomy" and an example of an "improperly integrated subconscious." Maybe you can explain *how* it is.

The trouble is what we mean by physical beauty. In a very basic way, you can evaluate a person's physical appearance apart from attraction. You can look at a person and say they are physically attractive in the sense of an appreciation of a person's body and some relevant qualities. Often, I think of bodies this way, without at all noting a genuine sexual or romantic attraction. I prefer to treat beauty in this way. Then there's a reaction like "she's attractive, so I'd totally love to date her, as long as she's not too dumb" or anything where appearance is a major factor of pursuing someone. That's a mind/body dichotomy to the degree that mind and body are treated as distinct factors of attraction. We can talk about mind and body separately, but evaluating your attraction past mere appreciation in such a distinct way keeps that all unintegrated.

 

So, no, it's not obvious. At least, in a discussion, nothing is obvious.

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...Then there's a reaction like "she's attractive, so I'd totally love to date her, as long as she's not too dumb" or anything where appearance is a major factor of pursuing someone. That's a mind/body dichotomy to the degree that mind and body are treated as distinct factors of attraction. We can talk about mind and body separately, but evaluating your attraction past mere appreciation in such a distinct way keeps that all unintegrated.

So, no, it's not obvious. At least, in a discussion, nothing is obvious.

That is an entirely different topic. The "mind/body" comment was not about pursuing or weighing physical attraction or beauty in the context of a relationship.

His comment was in response to this statement: "But you can quite obviously find physical beauty where the character of the person is unknown."

Edit: [see page 1]

That is when the poster said this is an example of the mind/body dichotomy, which it quite obviously is not.

Sorry for the format of this post, I am on my phone.

Edited by thenelli01

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He's saying that it's wrong to judge someone's physical beauty without knowledge of their character.

I thought you were disagreeing with the text you quoted, not the text quoted by that text. :P

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TomL's argument, and its derivatives, are a failure to identify A as A. That is, a failure to identify our nature. 

 

It also seems many people here have also confused Objectivism (and generally, the domain of Philosophy) with categories of knowledge (obtained through the process of Reasoning) like Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Psychology. As such, a quick read through these subjects would clear up exactly what is a metaphysically absolute (e.g. our need to breath, need to reproduce and their resulting behaviour) and what is not. 

 

Briefly, I will present the conclusions of those who've directed the exercise of their reasoning to gain a wealth of information about our nature as man (see the categories of knowledge mentioned above for more information):

 

  • we are vessels programmed to carry and propagate our genetic material into the next generation of vessels (i.e. survive and replicate)
     
  • we come 'hardwired' with certain gender-neutral and gender-specific values that aids the above

 

Examples of certain 'hardwired' gender-neutral values are oxygen, food and water (to sustain our survival) and sex with an opposite member of our species (to replicate). 

 

And to aid replication, we have a further set of "hardwired" gender-specific values that indicate other values that would lead to successful replication. For example facial symmetry indirectly indicates the presence of genetic fitness (see Natural Selection and Sexual Selection) which leads to successful replication. Thus we've come to value facial symmetry.

 

By the same process but of gender-specific values: men have come to value youth, full lips, a specific waist-to-hip ratio; women have come to value musculature, height, a specific waist-to-shoulder ratio. Further, more so than a man's, women's gender-specific values also extend to behaviour: particular body language, wit, humour. 

 

Whenever we perceive these attributes in a potential mate, our "hardwired" values are triggered, consequent emotions are evoked and bubble through to the realm of conscious thought as "I must f**k him/her". This is what we call "physical attraction", "physical beauty" or "physical attraction". 

 

These responses are no more under our conscious control than our ability to control the functioning of our kidneys. To use objectivist philosophy, these are the metaphysically absolute and by extension are Objective -- we cannot choose not to need to eat or procreate. 

Edited by Regalt

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If you find physical beauty where you do not find beauty of character, then you have a poorly integrated subconscious summation of the components of physical beauty. This is extremely common because in the course of one's life, this particular subconscious integration is made before explicit philosophic premise selection, and because our current culture bombards the pubescent with misinformation on the subject which one can't help but add in to one's subconsciousness.

...

 

Physical beauty exists independent of character. 

 

Further, what you are confusing here is "physical attraction" and "romantic love". "Romantic love", as coined by Locke and Kenner, is the combination of physical attraction and the harmonious match of virtues.   

 

As an aside, an insidious reason I see most people deny physical attraction as being independent of character is that it would be disastrous to their self-esteem should they take an objective view of their physical attractiveness or their physical desirability as a short-term mate. It is more comforting to reject physical attraction and work on traits/virtues one can control and develop. Yes, one may not have won the 'genetic lottery' in terms of physical appeal, however one must do the best with the cards they've been dealt if they are to be rational. 

Edited by Regalt

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As far as I can recall, Rand and the people around her didn't have much to say about physical beauty, quite apart from puzzles over what counts or not as Objectivist thought.

 

As for the rest of #103 I'd like to hear more about your objections.

 

Rand didn't have much to say about physical beauty just as she didn't have much to say about the anatomy of flowers, or the perception of color, or the behaviour of electromagnetic waves. 

 

It's our job to apply reasoning to figure this out, Rand's was to formulate why we should use reason. 

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Hi there!

Didn't know there is such a thread about this topic here!

Even if it's some years old. Just my thoughts on it after going through these posts:

 

I gather that this thread has been revolving around the question, whether physical attraction by the opposite sex and desires that follow from it are necessarily based on the assessment of a person's character or not. And whether one must be a victim of some "mind-body-dichotomy", if one is already attracted "only by the looks".

I think it depends on what you mean by "based on". But I also think there's no such thing as "being attracted due to a mind-body-dichotomy". It only goes the other way round: People just may rationalize their behavior with that mind-body-dichotomy after the fact - for lack of an explanation . But they aren't subconsciously physically attracted to the other sex because of it.

 

If you're really seeking a clear-cut character with high standards attached to it, highly appreciate that, and also find such a person, then you might find that person also physically attractive as a direct outgrowth of that. Perhaps even without the body playing a significant role in it. I think there's no real question arising in this case.

 

So what's the other case? Well, if you're simply not seeking that, or only to a lesser degree, or to almost no degree, then there's always this:

What you definitely care about is always at the very least the experience of a volitional living being that is conscious. Perceptually and conceptually conscious of things in this world, conscious of every-day perceivable relationships among them, conscious of itself and of you. And one that in one way or another wishes to live and enjoy its life in a sense you can tolerate. That's the basic content you hold, without which closure or sex isn't desirable to any human being. And I don't see how such a content would be possible without at least some character in that other person. You don't want to sleep with a robot, or an animal, or a depressive person. So what you want is never animalistic. Ever. And you don't view the other person as a so-called "sex-object" (whatever the hell that is). Ever. There simply is no such thing. Not in a relationship, not in promiscuity, perhaps not even with a slut, if you don't have to pretend as if she only was another person.

Now how does physical attraction come into play in only these most basic demands to a person?

Well, besides the content, there's also the form in which you need to experience any content, the content being the basic person, in this case. And that's where genetics come into play. But I would regard all this talk about biology and evolution as only partly right, partly wrong, and in any case utterly incomplete in its application to the context:

Yes, we have certain things hardwired into us. But those are not values. They're just physical dispositions/propensities/abilities. But they facilitate certain forms in which we can experience the above mentioned content. If you are "programmed" (although I hate that term) towards certain physical features in the opposite sex, all sort of stuff can happen when you encounter them. Stuff that allows you to experience a higher degree of awareness/presence/enjoyment of - and ultimately a desire for contact to - the person that has these features. In short: You experience the person in a certain form. But you only experience those things if you think that there actually is at least a basic person: A conceptually conscious living being that somehow wants to live and enjoy its life. You had to willfully grasp a whole set of facts in your life, to even arrive at that simple concept. So it's not automatic. What's automatic is only the consequent desire given your previous conceptualization of - and satisfaction with - the basic person. That's why you now have no choice but to desire, given your choices.

So if you encounter wavy long blonde hair, nice skin, or a skinny body type for a women, then you might feel aroused and desire closure or sex with her right away, because your genetic disposition is such, that when you also view her as the basic person I described (as you pretty much have to view her in most cases) and think you can be satisfied with that character-wise, you automatically experience her effect on your own body in a form that boosts the awareness/presence/enjoyment of her in you. All the while, experiencing those effects qua effect of a person. And only wanting them as such: The wavy long blond hair which you find so enjoyable is deeply absorbed and sucked in by you qua wavy long blonde hair of an actual woman that is alive and wishes to enjoy life. There isn't "just the hair", but only the hair as an aspect of that conscious living being, so ultimately, as an aspect of her consciousness. Both of her perceptual, but then also of her conceptual consciousness based on that. Her hair - just like any other part of her body - is an aspect of her consciousness of anything! You find her really beautiful and desire her sexually. But only in this light. Not in any rationalized view of a some "only-the-body-sex-object" that drops the entire context and meaning of the form.

So yes, even in physical attraction "based on looks only", an assessment of some character is first at play. It only looks like it isn't, because the low character-standards at play can almost automatically be taken for granted in the person. But since the enjoyment of such low standards cannot give you enough emotionally without a strong form of experiencing them, such a strong form is necessary. You need to "look for looks". So for that reason, your genes come into play and automatically facilitate the physical attraction in your own biologically specific way. Which is also close to evolution, because you are allowing your genes to function largely unaltered by your own overriding choices.

So what you call "the basis" here, is pretty much a game of semantics. You're trying to achieve your goal by "looking for looks", sure. So call that your "basis"? But the reason why you're only "looking for looks" is because you believe that the character you want will most probably already be there, so it isn't necessary to seek it directly. But you still need to find the right looks to make the enjoyment of the character really worthwhile. The right form. There's also no percentage assignment possible here ("how much percent looks, how much percent character is this based on?"), since it's all one. All you can define as a true basis is a certain absolute degree of character, if you like. And that is it. Your basis. Your choice.

But I think you can also say this (with regards to a man seeking a woman):

  • The lower or lesser your standards/demands to a person's character, the less effort it takes to find her attractive, but the more you can and need to rely on her looks and your genetic programming in order to exhaust - or even get started with - what is emotionally possible with those standards. For what more can your genes possibly do than what you have asked them to do? Just their thing. And how else would you get to the next level, if there are limits about how much there is to think about? Only through your genes.
  • The higher your standards, the more effort it takes to find her attractive, but the less your genetic programming can and needs to help you to exhaust what is emotionally possible with those standards. For how would your genes even know about such unexpected decisions of yours? And how else would you get to the next level, if there are limits about how much can be automated?

 

So in any case, you cannot truly psychologically base physical attraction "on looks only". But they can become the dominant element of the form in which the attraction to a character of lower standards takes place.

And since there is no true "attraction based on looks only", there is also no "attraction based on a mind-body-dichotomy" that it would require. You just invent the "mind-body-dichotomy" in order to rationalize what is going on. And it comes at the price of destroying your self-view. By reducing yourself either to a joyless zombie or an animal void of any meaningful content. Just consciously accepting your actual character standard instead - even if a low one - is better than that.

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