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Is masturbation rational, moral?

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On the contrary, Rand's entire point is that you can't stay alive by simply trying to avoid death. That isn't living -- it's dying.

Do you think that Benedict XVI is dead? If so, you'll agree that there is a qualitative difference between his death and John Paul II's death, won't you?

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I just found something that may have merit to this debate in one of the quotes above:

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.--Socrates

I think this aims towards a puritan world view and is wrong. You shouldn't live to eat either, at least not in a strict sense. In a broader metaphorical sense of enjoying life, you definitely should.

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There is still one extremely important point which needs to be made:

There is no such thing as an immoral fantasy — sexual or otherwise....

I emphatically agree with almost everything in this post, even the part about my former views being appaling. I'd like to ask you something, however, Kevin.

You have seperated thought from action, implying that thought is not a form of action. Is this right? If so, perhaps you can elaborate on why you think this, because I view thinking as an act since it requires effort, namely the willful choice to focus one's mind. In fact, even un-thinking often requires effort, since to do so one must often wilfully unfocus one's mind. Since I view thinking as an act, I view thought as subject to moral evaluation. How? Well, I evaluate the psycho-epistemological consequences of carrying out a particular thought process. For example, if I willfully engage in illogical thought processes, automatizing this form of thought into my psycho-epistemology, I am willfully harming my cognitive faculty, crippling it when I need it for later use, am I not?

If so, by this reasoning, I'm not necessarily evaluating the content of fantasies as such, but I am evaluating the method by which the content of the fantasy is being processed. And so, if I fantasize about something, which means that I think that that something is good for me, irregardless of whether that something truly is good for me, am I not likely to be willfully engaging in a method of thought that amounts to unfocusing? If I were to practice fantasizing about something, without regard to whether that something truly could be good for me, am I not automatizing a method of thought that is harmful to my cognitive faculty? So, in this sense, aren't thought processes as such subject to moral evaluation, since practicing a specific form of thought can be good or bad for one's cognitive faculty?

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Do you think that Benedict XVI is dead? If so, you'll agree that there is a qualitative difference between his death and John Paul II's death, won't you?

I said dying, not dead.

"Recall that life is a process of actions. This process can be flowing in one of two basic directions: life furthering or life diminishing, making the person more fit and likely to live or less so. A person can be described as dying when his actions proceed in a life-diminishing direction" (Tara Smith, Viable Values, 114).

So, in this sense, aren't thought processes as such subject to moral evaluation, since practicing a specific form of thought can be good or bad for one's cognitive faculty?

You hit the nail on the head. Everything that his volitional is subject to moral evaluation, including what you fantasize about. I'm not talking about something that pops into your head -- I'm talking about the imaginations toward which you purposely direct your mind.

That's not to say that it's immoral to fantasize about anything that would be immoral in action, but it is to say that there are still standards, even within the realm of your own consciousness. To indicate just one reason: most so-called "crimes of passion" are the end result of years of vicious fantasizing on the part of the criminal. Where you direct your mind, even in the privacy of your own mind, has consequences.

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Besides, cooking the meat actually makes it more nutritious which is also true for many other foods (despite the rantings and ravings of raw foods fanatics :) ).

No, it does not. Cooking ANYTHING makes it LESS nutritious because it leeches vitamins and nutrients from the food, hastens its breakdown, etc. In the case of meat and bread, it actually causes chemical changes which make it more carcinogenic. What it DOES do is kill off parasites, bacteria, etc. This is why you should use the water you boil vegetables in as soup stock; a lot of the vitamins you boiled out of the veggies are retained in the water.

Storing food, esp. vegetables and fruit, also makes it less nutritious, which is why the "fresh" fruits and vegetables you can buy in your local grocery store are often less nutritious than "cooked" frozen vegetables. Although the freezing process leeches some of the nutritional value from the food, it also halts the process at a specific stage, usually shortly after they are picked. The "fresh" food on the shelves continues to deteriorate until it is consumed.

Once again, not all values reduce down to biology. No one is saying that biology isn't a factor in determining what is and isn't a value, it is simply not the be-all end-all of the story. Millenia of evolution might have given me a body with a biological urge to procreate, but I personally have no desire along those lines. I have enough trouble supporting MYSELF.

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No, it does not. Cooking ANYTHING makes it LESS nutritious because it leeches vitamins and nutrients from the food, hastens its breakdown, etc. In the case of meat and bread, it actually causes chemical changes which make it more carcinogenic. What it DOES do is kill off parasites, bacteria, etc. This is why you should use the water you boil vegetables in as soup stock; a lot of the vitamins you boiled out of the veggies are retained in the water.

Potatoes are poisonous when eaten raw. So are most beans. The protein in the meat (which is why we eat it) can be digested easier when the meat is cooked. It is true, however that cooking kills many vitamins and minerals. But since this is not what this thread is about (it makes me smile everytime when I think about posting arguments about nutrition in the masturbation thread :D), we should settle this fight in another thread or via PM. :)

I just love these emoticons. :D

Millenia of evolution might have given me a body with a biological urge to procreate, but I personally have no desire along those lines.

You contradict yourself. Either you feel the urge or you don't. Whether you follow it is a different issue.

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If so, by this reasoning, I'm not necessarily evaluating the content of fantasies as such, but I am evaluating the method by which the content of the fantasy is being processed. And so, if I fantasize about something, which means that I think that that something is good for me, irregardless of whether that something truly is good for me, am I not likely to be willfully engaging in a method of thought that amounts to unfocusing?

When you fantasize about doing something, you are assuming it's good for you in some way? Being a veteran RPG player, I'm well-acquainted with fantasies of all kinds, as well as the fact that people fantasize about doing things that they acknowledge would be incredibly bad for them in real life!

When you imagine, you aren't necessarily looking for better, what you are looking for is different. A phenomenal disaster can be much more mentally engaging than a boring meeting.

I have kind of an odd comment, and I hope you won't find this offensive: most of the women I know of don't have visual fantasies when masturbating; they don't picture someone in particular. Generally, they are looking for a specific situation. Given, since I'm the only female posting in this thread, this may be difficult to verify, and I think posting a link would be more than a little inappropriate. I'm also not entirely certain it applies to ALL women, or that the converse applies to ALL men, but this, in my understanding, is why men buy photos while women read romance novels.

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When you fantasize about doing something, you are assuming it's good for you in some way? Being a veteran RPG player, I'm well-acquainted with fantasies of all kinds, as well as the fact that people fantasize about doing things that they acknowledge would be incredibly bad for them in real life!
Personally, "different" is not what essentially describes the root behind my fantasies; excitement is more like it. So when I fantasize, let's say while playing an RPG game, I could fantasize about how I would skillfully kill some enemy, or about living a world filled with different life-forms. My fantasies are subject to the question: Why do such things excite me? So, if I allow fantasies to go by, without evaluating them in some way, I could, without question, fantasize about killing a real John Galt. Would this be OK for me? Do I not wonder why this excites me? Do I just move on, unfocus, and keep fantasizing? I think the essential question in fantasies is "Why does this excite me?" And for me, things excite me that are both different and in tune with my values. So I would say "good for you" is a necessary but not sufficient quality of my fantasies; e.g., I don't fantasize about running a few miles a day, even though that's good for me.

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I said dying, not dead.

OK, then you acknowledge there is a difference: the difference between being dead and what you call dying.

If a sixteen-year-old boy--let's call him Jack--refuses to eat, he'll starve and be dead--now. If another sixteen-year-old boy--named, say, Ben--commits himself to a career in the Catholic Church, he'll be dying for the next seventy or so years. (And if a third boy, Howard, decides to pursue a rational career in architecture, he'll be living for the next seventy or so years.)

I am not saying that Ben is better off than Jack; I am simply pointing out that their non-lives are different in nature. Jack has ceased to exist and cannot feel any pain or pleasure. Ben still exists; he can feel pain; he could (but chooses not to) feel pleasure. (Ben is probably even happy, as he thinks he will soon be eating ice cream in the company of his Heavenly Father.)

My point is that the function of pain is to tell you: "If you keep doing that, you'll be as dead as Jack," while the function of pleasure is to confirm that "You are not dying like Ben."

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P.S. I just saw that you made an excellent analogy on the happy life thread:

Do we say of people who live paycheck to paycheck that they are meeting the requirements of financial health, since they can pay all their bills? Or do we say that they are in desperate need of savings and investments? There are always unexpected events: lost jobs, car accidents, Acts of God, etc., etc., etc. If financial health is the standard, then we must do more than meet our immediate financial needs.

Within that analogy, going bankrupt would be the equivalent of Jack's death, while a sustained state of being just able to meet one's immediate financial needs would correspond to Ben's dying. An overdrawn bank account has the function of pain, while an interest payment that more than covers your fixed expenses acts in the role of pleasure.

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Within that analogy, going bankrupt would be the equivalent of Jack's death, while a sustained state of being just able to meet one's immediate financial needs would correspond to Ben's dying. An overdrawn bank account has the function of pain, while an interest payment that more than covers your fixed expenses acts in the role of pleasure.

If you find that way of looking at things helpful, then okay, but I confess that I just don't get it.

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I have kind of an odd comment, and I hope you won't find this offensive: most of the women I know of don't have visual fantasies when masturbating; they don't picture someone in particular.

Other women have told me the same thing. I think men tend to be much more visual in general where sex is concerned.

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One thing I've noticed about masturbation is that you can't do it (effectively) without envisioning an object of arousal. And you cannot envision that without assuming (implicitly) certain things about the qualities of that object.

I use masturbation for two purposes: recreation and learning. I always introspect deeply when masturbating. I can choose exactly what to think about when I'm doing it, and I like to know exactly why I chose that particular thing to think of. I don't like to be ruled by my crotch, as it were; as if it were a force outside of my control that would respond inappropriately against my own rational convictions. You can use masturbation to analyse why you find a particular person, personality, act or idea to be sexually arousing.

Done properly, masturbation can be a rewarding experience just like sex, and there's nothing inherently depraved about it (as you can see, I have no difficulty talking about it). I think the more intense an experience you can achieve when masturbating, is dictated primarily by how clearly you have defined your abstractions and understand precisely why and how an abstraction becomes associated with the operation of your sexual organs.

I could go into this further but I intend to write a whole in-depth essay on the subject of sexual arousal and what causes it when I've studied it in more depth (this is not partial certainty, partial speculation: I believe I've reached a universal principle that covers all forms of arousal).

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There is nothing quite so amusing as watching a bunch of philosphy dorks (myself included, so no insult intended) debate the philosophical implications of spanking the monkey.

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Other women have told me the same thing. I think men tend to be much more visual in general where sex is concerned.

I must be an oddball to my gender then because I am a VERY visual person! When I fantasize I visualize the person, the situation, the setting, everything! It helps that I have a great imagination. I'm going to stop here because this thread gives me the giggles!! :D

Edited by Dagny

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation

If the term is not well-defined, follow the link and see the pictures :D

Question: Is is moral to Masturbate AND to fantasize having real sex?

(Just to make sure, I`m talking in a personal context. leave the government out.)

1. Wouldn`t that count as evading reality? (For, in reality - I`m single)

2. If the only reason for masturbating is pleasure, would that not count as hedonism? can a man "living QUA man" masturbate?

3. Sex is depicted by Rand as a "celebration of one`s existence". Is is moral to celebrate by myself?

4. Is it moral to watch ("unspeakbly disguisting"/AR) pornography, for assistance in masturbation?

People have claimed masturbation to be immoral, primarily based on their religious beliefs, while some of us think it is harmless. But, to say that masturbation is in fact moral, is an inane reproach that can only be stated in logical fallacies. You wouldn't say "because this man is not a genius, he is stupid” so likewise, you wouldn’t say "because this act is not immoral, it is moral” . These are fallacies, and the only way of saying that masturbation is moral, is through these fallacies. In order for it to be moral, then by definition moral would have to state: 'self gratifying ways that do not affect the world around you'. Let’s say that you are enjoying yourself while rolling an unopened jar of spaghetti sauce across the floor. Is this a moral occurrence? No, it is a harmless activity. But what if you take the spaghetti sauce from a starving family who was cooking pasta and you were rolling it over a rug that you put your cat puffs under, couldn’t it be immoral? What about self gratifying yourself to a point where your basis for life is solely the feeling of ejaculation. You want that feeling so bad, you’ll grab a woman in a dark alley. Is the physical sensation achieved during masturbation what caused this event? Unless the definition of moral can be interpreted subjectively, I do not think that masturbation is moral. You could even go so far as to describe masturbation as the preamble to self gratifying ways, which in turn can lead to a series of unfortunate events. Who gets awe inspired by masturbating? At the very least, it is harmless.

Some psychological facts from Freud and on have led us to an understanding that masturbating is a prime example of instant self gratification. Instant self gratification can lead to a series of unpleasant social situations, because you become a more anxious person from your lack of cerebral control (unable to shake desires, or postpone them to a more appropriate time). Ideally, to maintain social stamina, reflex and overall control, you need to be someone who suppresses these desires, and doesn't give in to the ID (Instant Self Gratifying). The more you give to the beast, the worse you become. Just my thoughts on masturbation.

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Jon P, just so that I understand your point of view more thoroughly, what would you say is the essential characteristic of an immoral (or moral) act? Further, do you think there are such things as truly ammoral acts, as perhaps you hinted at by saying masturbation could be a harmless act ("ammoral" here meaning the absence of morality)?

Secondly, I think you should be careful about calling "fact" anything postulated by Freud. I haven't read any of him, and I haven't taken any time to study him, but, at the risk of getting more graphic than I wish, the act which he's calling a form of "instant gratification" is factually not so instant in all who masturbate, and it isn't "factual" to claim that instant-ness is the chief motive behind all who mastrubate. Anytime I've run into Freud's "theories" I end up thinking that either he studied the most preverted and disgusting of people, or he simply was describing himself.

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Nonsense!!! Maybe you can't!! This is entirely dependent on the individual.

Dependant on what within the individual? How can you be aroused when there's no object to be aroused by?

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Dependant on what within the individual? How can you be aroused when there's no object to be aroused by?

Dependent on what arouses an individual! I'd prefer not to go into graphic detail here. You're saying you need to imagine an object. I'm saying I don't. Why has your position somehow become the default or status quo on this issue? This is the most arbitrary assertion I've heard in months. All you're really saying is that because you've never been able to masturbate without visualizing something, that no one else can. I'm laughing my pants off.

The bottom line is, there's no way for me to prove that I don't need to visualize an object any more than you can prove that you must, other than someone doing an MRI scan on the both of us while we masturbate to see which parts of our brains are active.

I look forward to reading this essay of yours.

Edited by Liriodendron Tulipifera

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Dependent on what arouses an individual! I'd prefer not to go into graphic detail here. You're saying you need to imagine an object. I'm saying I don't.

By an object, I meant: something, as opposed to nothing. It can be an integration, e.g. a personality and everything it entails; or disintegrated sensations, sounds, movements, images; along with that a certain way of regarding them. In other words, you can't become aroused on a zero. Do you dispute this?

I'm laughing my pants off.
There are easier ways of getting your pants off, but good luck with that.

I look forward to reading this essay of yours.

Me too.

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