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Is masturbation rational, moral?

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By an object, I meant: something, as opposed to nothing.... In other words, you can't become aroused on a zero. Do you dispute this?

Yes, I do. The brain does not always cause sexual arousal. Sexual arousal and orgasm can occur by spinal reflexes alone, simply by tactile stimulation of the genitals. For instance, men who have had their spinal cords severed in accidents can still have orgasms and ejaculations through tactile stimulation of the penis. This is the only stimulus necessary. Obviously, no no signals from the brain are necessary.

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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).
Unless certain of your views have changed, I can't say I share tree's excitement about your essay (though I would give it a fair shake (pun unintended)), particularly when Diana Hsieh, someone I highly respect, made these comments on how you think a rational man should handle himself with women.

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Unless certain of your views have changed, I can't say I share tree's excitement about your essay (though I would give it a fair shake (pun unintended)), particularly when Diana Hsieh, someone I highly respect, made these comments on how you think a rational man should handle himself with women.

That's fine. I'm not here for approval or to make friends, only to discover the truth. I sometimes state things as a screening test to see if I've overlooked any relevent factors.

You haven't really said what you find objectionable about my ideas in that other thread. Suffice to say that at the time I had only just discovered some new aspects of humour and were testing them out. I'm still working to understand the fundamental nature of humour and its proper role/function, if any, in human interaction.

Yes, I do. The brain does not always cause sexual arousal. Sexual arousal and orgasm can occur by spinal reflexes alone, simply by tactile stimulation of the genitals. For instance, men who have had their spinal cords severed in accidents can still have orgasms and ejaculations through tactile stimulation of the penis. This is the only stimulus necessary. Obviously, no no signals from the brain are necessary.

And you can get an erection through no tactile stimulation whatsoever. It's the relationship between the mind and the sex organs that I am seeking to understand. Can you tell me how it would be relevent for me to take the reflexive aspects into account?

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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)?

I think the word amoral is a term given to someone who doesn't particularly comply to moral and immoral beliefs. Masturbation is not amoral itself, amoral is used to describe a person. As in, that man is amoral. This refers to his over all lack of believing in moral and immoral judgment. And, someone who is amoral easily spends time doing things that are immoral. But, they also may do things that are seemly harmless. There's no difference between hitler walking a dog, and the pope walking a dog. The act itself is harmless while the pope is a moral person, and Hitler is an amoral person. Amoral is what the person is, and the act he/she does either falls under moral or immoral, or neither of the two. A sensible statement would be: "This man is amoral and he will perform an immoral act." But even if we use amoral in the place of immoral, we still have a fallacy that doesn’t prove masturbation is “amoral”: “This man is Amoral, he masturbates, and therefore masturbation is an amoral act.” Masturbation can very well be a harmless act, regardless of whether a moral or amoral person is doing it.

moral characteristic: giving your spaghetti sauce to a poor family.

immoral characteristic: taking the poor families spaghetti sauce.

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.

I can understand you, psychology is a fairly new "science", some men who are still walking this earth are older than the field itself. The worst thing you can do is call anything based on pure observation, a fact, and I should have been more careful now that you point it out. Thanks. From now on I'll be a bit more cautious. I was merely expressing the idea in the form of "as a matter of fact," as in “additionally to what i've learned….”

...

But, from first hand experience, I actually do agree with this particular observation. I have thoroughly thought this through, for what that’s worth, and have accepted this to be a truth. I certainly have my disagreements with lots of Freuds claims, but he wasn't All malarkey. While he was coming up with all the Wrong ideas, he did make some slightly less controversial but acceptable ones. But don't get me wrong, it could be a coincidence that I |instant gratification| on impulse, and just so happen to have anxities.

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It's the relationship between the mind and the sex organs that I am seeking to understand. Can you tell me how it would be relevent for me to take the reflexive aspects into account?

Well, this will be different for each person, obviously. In sex, either masturbation or otherwise, there is a balance between the purely mental and the purely physical. Does the mental activity necessarily command a better sexual experience? I don't think so. Just because you might be with a wonderful partner (or imagining some wonderful partner), does that necessarily mean the sex will be great (or the sensations will be great)? It's entirely possible that you can be with a less than ideal partner and have the orgasm be great, and be with an ideal partner and have the orgasm be not-so-great. Must this be due to some flaw in one's character? Doubtful. The proper physical stimulus needs to be there. If it isn't, in certain cirumstances, no amount of mental activity is going to get you there. Get what I mean?

Edited by Liriodendron Tulipifera

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I think the word amoral is a term given to someone who doesn't particularly comply to moral and immoral beliefs. Masturbation is not amoral itself, amoral is used to describe a person. As in, that man is amoral. This refers to his over all lack of believing in moral and immoral judgment. And, someone who is amoral easily spends time doing things that are immoral. But, they also may do things that are seemly harmless. There's no difference between hitler walking a dog, and the pope walking a dog. The act itself is harmless while the pope is a moral person, and Hitler is an amoral person. Amoral is what the person is, and the act he/she does either falls under moral or immoral, or neither of the two. A sensible statement would be: "This man is amoral and he will perform an immoral act." But even if we use amoral in the place of immoral, we still have a fallacy that doesn’t prove masturbation is “amoral”: “This man is Amoral, he masturbates, and therefore masturbation is an amoral act.” Masturbation can very well be a harmless act, regardless of whether a moral or amoral person is doing it.

moral characteristic: giving your spaghetti sauce to a poor family.

immoral characteristic: taking the poor families spaghetti sauce.

Jon, have you read Virtue of Selfishness? If not, do you think there is such a thing as an objective (not related to Objectivism) moral code? And if so, what would be its basis?

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Jon, have you read Virtue of Selfishness? If not, do you think there is such a thing as an objective (not related to Objectivism) moral code?

No i haven't read it. And as far as a moral code, I think what is moral is always up for interpretation. Regardless of the strict belief of objectivists that Moral is not subjective, I believe there are cases where I would go out of this frame of thinking to establish what I consider to be just, I think Ayn Rand would do the same. Talking in absolutes can only get you so far, until you really have to question what you as a human actually believe.

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No i haven't read it. And as far as a moral code, I think what is moral is always up for interpretation. Regardless of the strict belief of objectivists that Moral is not subjective, I believe there are cases where I would go out of this frame of thinking to establish what I consider to be just, I think Ayn Rand would do the same. Talking in absolutes can only get you so far, until you really have to question what you as a human actually believe.

What makes you think that an objective morality is one filled with absolutes?

P.S. Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is a proper noun. Objectivism, with a small "o" means something different.

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What makes you think that an objective morality is one filled with absolutes?

Nothing so far. Is there a large emphasis on objective morality in Ayn Rands philosophy? I think that much of capitalistic and economic success can be in the light of Objectivism. But, when there is something like human relationships, or dealing with peoples emotional states, I think there’s less room to take the Objectivists point of view in approaching something that is best left to subjectivity and natural human response. Do I even need to say these things, or am I way off topic?

P.S. Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is a proper noun. Objectivism, with a small "o" means something different.

duly noted, though not quite sure yet. Maybe i'll do the respectful thing, and consider looking more into the philosophy before posting here.

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Is there a large emphasis on objective morality in Ayn Rands philosophy?

Yes, the Objectivist ethics is objective. It's important to understand, though, that most often when people use the term "objective" as applied to ethics, they really mean "intrinsic." Do you understand the distinction between the two?

But, when there is something like human relationships, or dealing with peoples emotional states, I think there’s less room to take the Objectivists point of view in approaching something that is best left to subjectivity and natural human response. Do I even need to say these things, or am I way off topic?
It is off the topic of this thread, but they are important questions for you to ask. If you like, feel free to start a new thread and ask one of the Mods to move the relevant posts into it.

Can you give a definition of what you mean by "subjective"? (not a dictionary definition; it's important to describe what you mean by the term). It's another concept that has been distorted by common usage; most often, people use it when they really mean "personal."

duly noted, though not quite sure yet. Maybe i'll do the respectful thing, and consider looking more into the philosophy before posting here.

I definitely advise going straight to the horse's mouth and reading what Ayn Rand actually wrote. While, people will generally be willing to answer most questions, regardless of whether or not you have read or are reading Ayn Rand, there will come a point where you just have to go read the books. It is my opinion that one can extract the most value from this forum by using it as a go-to place when one has questions about something that Ayn Rand wrote; that way we are all operating from the same context.

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Well, this will be different for each person, obviously. In sex, either masturbation or otherwise, there is a balance between the purely mental and the purely physical. Does the mental activity necessarily command a better sexual experience? I don't think so. Just because you might be with a wonderful partner (or imagining some wonderful partner), does that necessarily mean the sex will be great (or the sensations will be great)? It's entirely possible that you can be with a less than ideal partner and have the orgasm be great, and be with an ideal partner and have the orgasm be not-so-great. Must this be due to some flaw in one's character? Doubtful.

So you're just speculating? This conversation isn't very useful unless you have some hard, proven facts to impart with.

The proper physical stimulus needs to be there. If it isn't, in certain cirumstances, no amount of mental activity is going to get you there. Get what I mean?

If you mean you can't reach an orgasm without a physical stimulus, you are right. I haven't disagreed with that.

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So you're just speculating? This conversation isn't very useful unless you have some hard, proven facts to impart with.

If you mean you can't reach an orgasm without a physical stimulus, you are right. I haven't disagreed with that.

You are the one speculating! What you're essentially doing is projecting onto all others what, I presume, you've gleaned from your own experience. Does the fact that many black people commit crimes mean that every black person is going to commit a crime? Does the fact that every President of the United States has been a white male mean that every white male would make a good President? Likewise, just because someone is a wonderful person, ideal in nearly every aspect, it does not necessarily mean they are a great sexual partner. It doesn't mean they couldn't become one.

At this point, I'm curious as to what you mean by all of this, since you've backtracked on your initial definition of "visualization" and its role in masturbation.

I never said orgasm wasn't possible without physical stimulus. I said "in certain circumstances." Orgasm is possible without physical stimulus, in dreams, at least. So clearly there is a possibility in humans, from two examples I've now given, that the cause of orgasm can be purely physical or purely mental, but my opinion is that the BEST sex is when they are present together. That's really all I am saying here.

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You are the one speculating! What you're essentially doing is projecting onto all others what, I presume, you've gleaned from your own experience.

What do you think I've "projected"? I've asserted that there is a principle which covers how the mind relates to pysiological arousal. And you've said that there are exceptions where orgasm can occur without the mind, or that orgasm can occur without stimulus. But I'm only interested in normal, not exceptional, cases, that cover how man achieves sexual pleasure from the use of his mind. Until I've actually given specifics on this, you can't comment on it's validity.

Does the fact that many black people commit crimes mean that every black person is going to commit a crime? Does the fact that every President of the United States has been a white male mean that every white male would make a good President? Likewise, just because someone is a wonderful person, ideal in nearly every aspect, it does not necessarily mean they are a great sexual partner. It doesn't mean they couldn't become one.

I've not spoken of "ideal sexual partners", that's a specific detail under the broad subject I'm intending to address.

At this point, I'm curious as to what you mean by all of this, since you've backtracked on your initial definition of "visualization" and its role in masturbation.

I didn't backtrack on any definition, I only used the word "visualisation" and then defined what I meant by it.

I never said orgasm wasn't possible without physical stimulus. I said "in certain circumstances." Orgasm is possible without physical stimulus, in dreams, at least. So clearly there is a possibility in humans, from two examples I've now given, that the cause of orgasm can be purely physical or purely mental, but my opinion is that the BEST sex is when they are present together. That's really all I am saying here.

I don't think you've uncovered anything special here. I took it for granted that people would know that I haven't ignored this fact, but that it is not an essential factor towards the matter I'm addressing.

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I'm only interested in normal, not exceptional, cases, that cover how man achieves sexual pleasure from the use of his mind.

Really? Here's what you said before.

"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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Really? Here's what you said before.

"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)."

A principle is a phenomenon of the mind. It was implicit.

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I think saying that masturbation is immoral or that humans shouldnt do it is easier said than done.

Heres a scenario: Imagine being at your sexual peak, sitting in your home all alone with the lights off and youre watching a movie. Then on comes a very passionate sex scene in the movie where two gorgeous people are naked, sweaty, and having orgasmic sex. This makes you intensely horny uncontrollably. The sex scene ends in the movie but all your attention is still on sex and you cant concentrate on anything else no matter how hard you try. You know it would be an amazing pleasure to masturbate at this time instead of torturing yourself, trying to convince yourself that masturbation is immoral. "Great pleasure or torture?"- the person says to himself.

Would the majority of people really be able to not masturbate at this time, even if they established to themselves that masturbation is immoral? I dont think so.

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I think saying that masturbation is immoral or that humans shouldnt do it is easier said than done.

(snip)

Would the majority of people really be able to not masturbate at this time, even if they established to themselves that masturbation is immoral? I dont think so.

These statement do not reflect solid premises upon which to decide the morality of masturbation (or anything really). First you suggest judging morality by the difficulty of the choice, and second you bring in a "consensus" component.

Perhaps bettter criteria would be to consider what rational value is gained at what cost to your life.

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These statement do not reflect solid premises upon which to decide the morality of masturbation (or anything really). First you suggest judging morality by the difficulty of the choice, and second you bring in a "consensus" component.

Perhaps bettter criteria would be to consider what rational value is gained at what cost to your life.

My point was that whether it is immoral or moral to masturbate, most likely will not influence the majority of people enough to effect their actions. The desire to masturbate in certain situations will overmatch the immorality of it because it is such a powerful desire.

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The point of this thread is to discuss whether masturbation is/can be moral. Answering this question requires no discussion of what some people might or might not do with that information. However, though such discussion is not required, it might be interesting if you were discussing ways people might implement their moral actions. (Though given the explicit nature of the subject at hand, that's probably inappropriate to discuss here.)

Where such discussion is not particularly helpful is where it takes the form you have used. What you are saying in essence is either that people have no free will (e.g., the desire will overmatch the immorality) or that people might make a bad decision (e.g., whether it's moral or immoral, implying that they will choose a certain way). Positing that people might make bad decisions doesn't add much of anything. Of course some people might make bad decisions. Positing that people have no free will (1) doesn't add much of anything here because it runs contrary to Objectivism, and (2) for those who want to inquire about why people have free will, is best discussed elsewhere on the forum.

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The point of this thread is to discuss whether masturbation is/can be moral. Answering this question requires no discussion of what some people might or might not do with that information. However, though such discussion is not required, it might be interesting if you were discussing ways people might implement their moral actions. (Though given the explicit nature of the subject at hand, that's probably inappropriate to discuss here.)

Where such discussion is not particularly helpful is where it takes the form you have used. What you are saying in essence is either that people have no free will (e.g., the desire will overmatch the immorality) or that people might make a bad decision (e.g., whether it's moral or immoral, implying that they will choose a certain way). Positing that people might make bad decisions doesn't add much of anything. Of course some people might make bad decisions. Positing that people have no free will (1) doesn't add much of anything here because it runs contrary to Objectivism, and (2) for those who want to inquire about why people have free will, is best discussed elsewhere on the forum.

Whats the difference if its moral or not if that wont change someone's actions? I know humans have free will but I'm making this decision based on personal experience, and the desire to masturbate in certain situations influence your final action more than morality. So, the reason I wanted to point this out is to explain my opinion why figuring out if masturbation is moral or not is irrelavant.

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Since sexual desire is part of man's nature, how can a philosophy which attempts to build its moral foundations upon that nature ever deem the manifestation of that sexual desire immoral?

Men want sex, at least partly because humans are animals after all. Just as men need food, air, and such to sustain themselves, sex is a big natural desire.

Thus the proper question I think is not "whether any form of sex is immoral", but rather "what is the mean between the extremes?"

Certainly it is possible to imagine situations in sex comes to dominate one's desires to the detriment of their life, but that is the case with all other human desires. There is always the possibility for overindulgence.

Thus so long as it doesn't significantly impact one's other values in a negative way, what could possibly be the immorality or irrationality in masturbation?

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Whats the difference if its moral or not if that wont change someone's actions? I know humans have free will but I'm making this decision based on personal experience, and the desire to masturbate in certain situations influence your final action more than morality. So, the reason I wanted to point this out is to explain my opinion why figuring out if masturbation is moral or not is irrelavant.

Will knowing its morality guide your actions? Do you consider knowing whether something is right or wrong to be irrelevant? If an action is immoral, do you consider choosing immorality to be irrelevant?

If you think morality is irrelevant, and/or that your actions are beyond your control, then you should consider addressing those issues before addressing the topic of masturbation.

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Will knowing its morality guide your actions? Do you consider knowing whether something is right or wrong to be irrelevant? If an action is immoral, do you consider choosing immorality to be irrelevant?

If you think morality is irrelevant, and/or that your actions are beyond your control, then you should consider addressing those issues before addressing the topic of masturbation.

Whether I knew if masturbation was moral or immoral wouldnt change my actions towards it because I could only refrain from doing it for so long anyways. So yeah, that specific action is beyond my control at certain times. Im 20 male, and the urge to do it is stronger than my free will, and I think a lot of people would agree with me.

I like the issue of morality, just not for this specific topic.

Edited by konerko14

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