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Porn - Why all the hate?

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Following up on drsm's post, I think "sexual arousal" would belong in the genus rather than the differentia. Also, I'm not sure is "entertainment" is the correct word for the genus, could "art" be closer.

I'm still thinking through the differentia, but I think I'm close to the genus when I say:

"Pornography is sexually-explicit art that _______"

Some half-form thoughts regarding the differentia...

"____ that portrays a sex as a purely physical activity devoid of mind"

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I'm still thinking through the differentia, but I think I'm close to the genus when I say:

"Pornography is sexually-explicit art that _______"

Some half-form thoughts regarding the differentia...

"____ that portrays a sex as a purely physical activity devoid of mind"

How about:

Pornography is sexually explicit media for the sole purpose of sexual arousal.

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Following up on drsm's post, I think "sexual arousal" would belong in the genus rather than the differentia. Also, I'm not sure is "entertainment" is the correct word for the genus, could "art" be closer.

I'm still thinking through the differentia, but I think I'm close to the genus when I say:

"Pornography is sexually-explicit art that _______" (snip)

I thought about "art," but given that pornography is usually found as writing, photography or movies, and photography is generally not considered art in Objectivist literature, I dropped the idea. I wasn't entirely comfortable with calling it art either, but haven't thought of another concept that encompasses writing, photography and movies.

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That is a suitable definition.

Lone Wolf: Why do you think Bryan's definition in post 27 is suitable?

Bryan or anyone else: Which part of your definition is the genus and which the differentia? Would the differentia distinguish pornography from erotica?

P. S. -- Forum Rules prohibit posts that state only agreement or disagreement. Always state some reason for at least the main points of a post.

BASIC QUESTIONS FORUM MODERATOR

[Edited to correct post number, placement of "only," and ref. to anyone.]

Edited by BurgessLau
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Philosophically evaluating pornography is difficult because of the actual referents, i.e., most pornography seems malicious or cynical. It's an odd state, considering the joyous nature of its subject matter.

Imagine if motion pictures had just been invented, and then imagine that the first several actual movies produced were by the likes of Sean Penn or Michael Moore. It would be difficult to evaluate motion pictures without having one's concept of them clogged up with rubbish.

Most pornography I've seen makes me think that its producers consider sex "dirty", and then proceed to nihilistically flaunt dirt.

Is there benevolent, "pro-sex" :) porn out there? Would that change any of the evaluations of it offered here so far?

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Bryan or anyone else: Which part of your definition is the genus and which the differentia? Would the differentia distinguish pornography from erotica?

genus: sexually explicit media

differentia: for the sole purpose of sexual arousal.

I would say that the above differentia distinguishes it from erotica in that the only purpose of pornography is sexual arousal. Erotica covers a wider spectrum of material, such as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, magazines such as Maxim and FHM, and maybe even Playboy. These magazines may offer some esthetic value rather than exclusively sexual arousal.

The more I think about this definition, the less comfortable I am with it. Frankly, this is the most thought I've given to pornography since I was 15 :).

[edited for clarity]

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Philosophically evaluating pornography is difficult because of the actual referents [...]

Most pornography I've seen [...]

Is there benevolent, "pro-sex"  :) porn out there?

The question to be addressed now -- and should have been addressed in the beginning of the thread -- is this: What is pornography?

What is your definition of pornography? In other words, in terms of essential characteristics, what does the concept "pornography" refer to in reality?

(For those not familiar with the nature and purposes of definitions, I recommend the "Definitions" entry in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

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Pornography is a form of media which contains a representation of the human body with the primary purpose of generating sexual arousal.

Porn is a substitute for some of the values possible within a romantic relationship. When a man (or woman) is not engaged in a relationship, it is normal and healthy to enjoy some of the values by oneself, including the use of mental and physical aids.

There is a danger of attempting to use porn as a substitutive for romantic relationships or other values, or of attempting to gain from porn what one cannot gain from normal relationships, but these are psychological problems and disorders, not inherent in porn itself. The fact that most commercial pornography portrays unhealthy or immoral sexual relationships represents certain negative philosophical and cultural trends, not the nature of the medium.

Speaking on a personal basis, I will get rid of my porn when I find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.

(Additionally, both porn and masturbation may be appropriate within a committed relationship in certain limited contexts, but that is a topic for another thread.)

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I like the use of the word "media" to encompass writing, photography, film, etc. "Erotica" may actually be a better choice for the genus, if erotica is defined as "media intended to arouse sexual interest." If that were the case, pornography might be differentiated by its malevolent or dehumanizing nature. This would distinguish it from media that celebrates the human body and/or sex (in a benevolent fashion).

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We seem to be reaching agreement about the genus, but not the differentia.

I have a problem with using the purpose as a distinguishing characteristic.

For instance, one poster made the point that sexually-explicit photographs may not be porn (and pointed to a site to illustrate the point). If a web-master were to copy those to a typical pay-for-view porn site, would that make it porn?

If we do not consider purpose, we might give the impression that some photographs in medical texts are porn. So -- now -- I do think that purpose is part of the definition, but part of the genus rather than the differentia.

How about this:

"Pornography is media generated with the primary purpose of generating sexual arousal ____

___ which does so in a malevolent way"

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There is nothing inherently negative or malevolent about the word "pornography."

Erotica is in fact a wider classification because it includes literature as well, and is therefore used primary to refer to written work. I believe that it is too narrow a classification to form the genus, however.

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There is nothing inherently negative or malevolent about the word "pornography."

Erotica is in fact a wider classification because it includes literature as well, and is therefore used primary to refer to written work.  I believe that it is too narrow a classification to form the genus, however.

Ayn Rand made a statement about pornography in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" In the chapter "Censorship: Local and Express." I can not find my copy right now, but i do recall that she called pornography "disgusting." Can anyone look up the exact statement?

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Ayn Rand made a statement about pornography in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" In the chapter "Censorship: Local and Express."

Thanks for the ref... here is a quote from Ayn Rand's essay:

"...my own view of what is called "hard core" pornography. I regard it as unspeakably disgusting... ... I regard [sex] as good, ..., too important to be made the subject of public anatomical display."

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Thanks for the ref... here is a quote from Ayn Rand's essay:

"...my own view of what is called "hard core" pornography. I regard it as unspeakably disgusting... ... I regard [sex] as good, ..., too important to be made the subject of public anatomical display."

Thanks you for supplying the quote, plaintext.

Could someone please explain why a "public anatomical display" undermines or contradicts the concept "important" in this context?

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Recently I was given a warning about my last post in this thread. I apologize for offending anyone who may have read it and was appalled. My message wasn't intended to shock nor mock, but sheer curiousity of that which wasn't being regarded as relevant to the topic of discussion or the initiator of the discussion. And again, I apologize.

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"...my own view of what is called "hard core" pornography. I regard it as unspeakably disgusting... ... I regard [sex] as good, ..., too important to be made the subject of public anatomical display."

No one is disputing that certain popular forms of porn present an incorrect view of sex. The argument that porn as such is immoral however, has not been given. Note that Miss Rand never condemned pornography as such – she is in fact implicitly approving some forms of it.

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Pornography is a work of fiction, usually a movie, that contains a graphic depiction of the sexual act. By "graphic," I mean that it includes the intimate details that people normally prefer to keep private.

Let me demonstrate the errors of this definition by counterexample:

Playboy and Penthouse aren’t fiction and don’t contain graphic descriptions of the “sexual act” but they are porn.

A recording of sex for medical or educational purposes, fictional or not, isn’t porn.

A “girls on spring break” video is porn, but it’s not fictional, “graphic,” necessarily sexual, or a movie.

A wildlife documentary isn’t porn, but it’s covered by your definition, since you don’t limit it to human beings.

Also:

The use of “graphic” creates a circular definition and the distinction of “fiction” is not really applicable, since porn as such is not art.

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Note that Miss Rand never condemned pornography as such – she is in fact implicitly approving some forms of it.

Which form of media which contain representations of the human body with the primary purpose of generating sexual arousal did Miss Rand implicitly approve? Can you provide examples of her doing so (or at least references to which article or book?)

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Which form of media which contain representations of the human body with the primary purpose of generating sexual arousal did Miss Rand implicitly approve?

I am referring to the above quote. If Miss Rand disapproved of certain forms of pornography rather than pornography as such, it follows that other forms which presented a proper view of sex might be acceptable.

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Maybe I'm wrong here but isn't it "funny" GC is commenting on this thread when he didn't have the time to fully consider the StephenSpiecher situation? If that situation has been remedied then my apologies.

[basic Questions Forum, moderator note: In violation of Forum Rules, this post is off-topic, devoid of intellectual content, personally insulting (by insinuation), and unsubstantiated. Burgess Laughlin]

Edited by BurgessLau
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Hey, I don't understand why people are struggling so much with the definition of pornography. It's not that important, nor that complicated, but pornography is definitely not art nor entertainment. Here goes:

"Pornography is the depiction of sexual situations for the purpose of sexual arousal".

BTW, the origin of the word comes from the ancient Greek pornographos "(one) writing of prostitutes," which comes from porne, "prostitute".

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BTW, the origin of the word comes from the ancient Greek pornographos "(one) writing of prostitutes," which comes from porne, "prostitute".

Thanks for the info, Eran. I had known what "graph..." meant, but not "porne."

In light of this etymology, however, the most authentic definition might go somehow like this: "A verbal or graphical representation of prostitutes while they are 'on duty.'" This also provides a subtle lead regarding its moral status... :P

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