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Porn - Why all the hate?

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Just answer me this: do you believe that prostitution should be legal?

I SAID that I think prostitution should be legal. MORE than once.

Despite your disgust with prostitution, do you recognize the fact that there would be a large industry developed around it if it were legalized.

I also don't like SMOKING. What do I care about what other people do to themselves? I merely made the point that prostitution is immoral. However, I maintain that it CANNOT be considered an "industry" . . . industry PRODUCES something.

My essay explains why I think you cannot equate prostitution with an ordinary sale.

Prostitution is a voluntary agreement in which sex is offered for pay.

Assassination is a voluntary agreement in which DEATH is offered for pay. That does not change its moral status. Let me reiterate: if you attempt to deny the spiritual component of sex, you will only ruin your own self-esteem. If a woman wants to sleep with you, you don't have to pay her and vice versa.

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Assassination is a voluntary agreement in which DEATH is offered for pay.

Actually, a voluntary agreement in which death is offered for pay is euthanasia. Assassination is murder--it violates the right of the assassinated. For assassination to be a proper analogy, we would have to be talking about "rape-for-hire of famous people," not prostitution.

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Actually, a voluntary agreement in which death is offered for pay is euthanasia.  Assassination is murder--it violates the right of the assassinated.  For assassination to be a proper analogy, we would have to be talking about "rape-for-hire of famous people," not prostitution.

It was not meant as an analogy, it was meant to demonstrate that "Voluntary, for pay" does not equal "moral".

To defeat my argument, simply demonstrate that sex without acknowledging its spiritual component does not affect one's self-esteem.

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If you will now say that sex is nothing more than physical nourishment and contains no emotional or spiritual considerations in the same way that a bag of chips does not, then I'll agree with you.

Since two different acts are not the same, they have, ipso facto, different emotional or spiritual considerations. Eating a bag of chips has emotional and spiritual considerations of its own, as do all actions done to create a sensation an individual deems pleasurable.

Regarding something you said earlier...

... which is exactly what one does when one "gets off" with porn, because the femininity a man sees in pornography-- the object of his sexual desire -- is disintegrated from the woman who could reflect his own highest values in himself. This is why the women in porn are just "pieces of meat".

Why is "gets off" in quotes? Do men fake their orgasms when they use porn?

What's the difference between that and simply not bothering to pretend to have any shared values, respect, or admiration for each other intellectually?

The difference is honesty. Pretend is the key word.

It is, in the end, just a pretense -- the same as the sexual arousal gained from pornography is a pretense. Either way, there is no actual shared value, respect or admiration.

I respect porn stars. What reson do I have to disrespect them if I don't see what they do as wrong?

If a man were to pay a woman to watch her having sex...

I thought I already conceded that prostitution and porn were seperable only by the camera.

Sadly, yes. I have found my finished draft, however, and I will probably post it in Member Essays sometime later.

I apologize for calling it that, as I was being patronizing out of frustration. Old habits die hard, I guess. :ninja:

I think you should explain more clearly how the integrity is destroyed, and perhaps define integrity as well.

However, I maintain that it CANNOT be considered an "industry" . . . industry PRODUCES something.

Is this becoming a semantic argument?

Assassination is a voluntary agreement in which DEATH is offered for pay.

One or more of the parties involved in an assassination are, by definition, not voluntary participants.

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It was not meant as an analogy, it was meant to demonstrate that "Voluntary, for pay" does not equal "moral".

Volition and morality are mutually inclusive. All wrongdoing has a target, and the absence of their consent is assumed.

To defeat my argument, simply demonstrate that sex without acknowledging its spiritual component does not affect one's self-esteem.

How can any action people initiate be without a spiritual component?

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Eating a bag of chips has emotional and spiritual considerations of its own

But not of the same type as sex, unless you are a hedonist. Sex, as the utmost pleasure available to man, properly requires and should be reserved for the utmost in philosophic valuation that one can muster, not wasted and diminished in value itself by the whim of a range-of-the-moment indulgence.

One can work off a bag of chips with a quick run or a treadmill. How will you burn the calories of guilt from your soul when you screw a face and ask for its name later (or not even bother)? Or is your emotional mechanism too inverted now to even feel the guilt?

Regardless of whether or not you feel the guilt, I will assert that you could be a happier person if you reserve your sex for the love of your life. It will mean that much more to you when you have it!

Why is "gets off" in quotes? Do men fake their orgasms when they use porn?
Ayep. I don't mean that the physical orgasm itself is fake, but the emotional payoff definitely is.

The difference is honesty.  Pretend is the key word.

So, its OK to be a hedonist as long as you're honest about it?

I respect porn stars. What reson do I have to disrespect them if I don't see what they do as wrong?

The respect of a porn star is only properly the cause for sex with a porn star if one is also in that line of work. In order for it to be a proper basis for sex, it must be first-handed. You must be able to look your partner in the eyes and say "I know; we are the same!"

Further, it really needs to be a productive value you are sharing first-handedly, not a destructive one, or you invert sex and self-esteem in their cause & effect relationship.

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But not of the same type as sex, unless you are a hedonist.

No, they are never the same, under any circumstances. Wasn't there a sentence immediately prior to the one you quoted that was about this?

Sex, as the utmost pleasure available to man, properly requires and should be reserved for the utmost in philosophic valuation that one can muster

That's it? That's the utmost pleasure? What a bleak determination.

One can work off a bag of chips with a quick run or a treadmill. How will you burn the calories of guilt from your soul when you screw a face and ask for its name later (or not even bother)? Or is your emotional mechanism too inverted now to even feel the guilt?

Guilt is a rope that wears thin.

Ayep. I don't mean that the physical orgasm itself is fake, but the emotional payoff definitely is.

So physical sensation is divorced from emotion?

Regardless of whether or not you feel the guilt, I will assert that you could be a happier person if you reserve your sex for the love of your life. It will mean that much more to you when you have it!

So the evil of porn is a result of its supposed opportunity cost: a loving relationship.

...

...

Really, my love is something another person has to earn. I don't search for people to love. I definitely don't attempt to win the love of others; this kind of histrionic crap puts my life in their hands while I reshape myself for the supposed benefit of their affection. To top that off, I have absolutely no interest in someone who would be attracted to me if I danced like some puppet to get their attention.

So, its OK to be a hedonist as long as you're honest about it?

No, it isn't okay, and that's not what I said. You asked for the difference. Hedonism is a completely different topic, as just about any possible stimuli can be misused by a hedonist, not just sex.

The respect of a porn star is only properly the cause for sex with a porn star if one is also in that line of work. In order for it to be a proper basis for sex, it must be first-handed. You must be able to look your partner in the eyes and say "I know; we are the same!"

What travesty is this? "[W]e are the same"??? Two people are not the same. One is not equal to two. Why would you allow any loss of individuality?

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If an Objectivist man should come across a copy of the March, 1964, Playboy, would it be inappropriate for him to stop to gaze at the fold-out of Miss March?  Or should he go straight to the [Ayn Rand] interview, do not pass Go?

When I got my copy, I started at page 1 and flipped through the entire magazine. Let me tell you, there's nothing to gaze at--except the Ayn Rand interview. The women in this particular edition are almost entirely clothed. You will catch a bare boob here and there, but that's it! And there is a serious lack of pictures, compared to Playboy today.

No sweaty, completely naked girls of the Big Ten throwing footballs to each other in 15-page full-color pictorials. Nothing very sexy or stimulating--unless of course you are an out-of-control testosterone-driven teenage boy hungry for 1964 boob shots obscured by shadows.

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Robert Heinlein was not right about everything, fortunately -- or we should all have sex with our mothers :P (Read Time Enough for Love if the joke eludes you).

Masturbation is still sex.

A man who masturbates fantasizing about his partner who may be physically inaccesible to him for some reason (work travel, perhaps?) is significantly morally different than a man who sneaks in a porn movie while his wife isn't around.

What is most important is what is in the mind of the person masturbating; why are they doing it? What thoughts led to their arousal? How do they feel while they are doing it?

Ayn Rand said that sex is an "integrated response of mind & body". This means that the body reacts to what the mind thinks -- the value-judgements of the person. Sexual arousal is thus an extension of the emotional mechanism, and is part of the subconscious and must be programmed just like any other part of the subconscious, if one is to have control over it.

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Sex, as the utmost pleasure available to man...

While, admittedly, I haven't been following this entire discussion, I'd like to point out that this statement requires evidence of a scientific nature. The burden of proof for making the statement "sex is the utmost pleasure available to humans" rests on the shoulders of those making the statement. It is *not* apparent, through reflection or experience, that sex is the utmost pleasure. Although I love my girlfriend very much, and value her higher than most everything, I do not agree whatsoever that sex is the utmost pleasure. For me, some of the things that I would classify as being most (rationally) pleasurable do not include sex, or even other people at all (many of my most pleasurable activities involve my own achievement), yet I am distinctly a human being. Basically, what physical evidence coupled with what logical proof supports the notion of sex being the utmost pleasure?

I am particularly interested because this is an issue many people seem to take for granted (this is a feeling I get); it is a personal issue to be sure, and possibly even a cultural one: I will gladly concede that for many, even most, people sex is the highest pleasure. But this says *nothing* about WHY it is the utmost pleasure for those individual people. Another corollary to my question would be, what makes sex different, philosophically, from other actions? Again, it is *not* patently obvious that it is different, therefore it is not enough to respond "if you do not see how it is different, then something is wrong with the way you see it" or something to that effect. "To those who understand, no explanation is necessary, to those who do not, no explanation is possible" (or something to that effect) is not a valid argument; the role of sex in the hierarchy of human values must be evaluated using evidence and reason.

My own opinion is that sex, like many things, can rationally occupy any number of different positions in the value hierarchy; that is to say, the role of sex in the value hierarchy does *not* follow from a mere analysis of human nature in general, instead one must take every individual's context into account. It is an important topic but it must be addressed with the utmost philosophic rigor.

[Edited for spelling.]

Edited by Currence
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It cannot; if one attempts to ignore the spiritual component, it becomes a negative one automatically.

It is impossible to ignore it, as your actions (and their spirituality) are the focus of at least part of your attention, not some background noise. It is also impossible to attempt to ignore it, as the very attempt draws your attention to it. Saying that sex is only a physical act is likening it to two machines in human form "coupling" with each other--completely ridiculous. The question is whether or not porn, prostitution, or (perhaps) masturbation are equally absurd.

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I'd like to point out that this statement requires evidence of a scientific nature

Concepts of consciousness cannot use science to provide evidence for or against them. They are observable only through introspection.

It is *not* apparent, through reflection or experience, that sex is the utmost pleasure.
It is not apparent to you, in which case I would contend you aren't doing it right -- yet.

(many of my most pleasurable activities involve my own achievement),

But don't you have a desire to connect that pleasure physically to existence? To experience it through direct sensory perception rather than just emotion? By what means can you do so?

But this says *nothing* about WHY it is the utmost pleasure for those individual people.
Of course I should have qualified my statement to read "for truly rational people." But I hate making such qualifications and I understand why Ayn Rand had a disdain for having to do so.

My own opinion is that sex, like many things, can rationally occupy any number of different positions in the value hierarchy

Only if one allows sex to take on different definitions at the range of the moment. If one develops its objective definition for man qua man (not merely man qua animal) and holds true to it, then it has only one place to fit.

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Concepts of consciousness cannot use science to provide evidence for or against them.  They are observable only through introspection.

Sex is not a concept of consciousness. Sex is a physical and mental activity that provides a certain amount of pleasure. My statement was misleading, I said the evidence must be of a scientific nature, but I should have said the evidence must be a result of reason applied to one's physical experience, that is, the pleasure of sex must be determined through a rational process; it does NOT automatically occupy the "top spot". I'm saying that one must determine how much pleasure sex provides through the use of reason and their experiences.

It is not apparent to you, in which case I would contend you aren't doing it right -- yet.

I addressed this issue in my first post. I will quote myself, with more emphasis this time:

"Again, it is *not* patently obvious that it is different, therefore it is not enough to respond "if you do not see how it is different, then something is wrong with the way you see it" or something to that effect. "To those who understand, no explanation is necessary, to those who do not, no explanation is possible" (or something to that effect) is not a valid argument; the role of sex in the hierarchy of human values must be evaluated using evidence and reason."

This is the heart of the issue. Until an argument is provided for WHY sex must occupy the top spot on the hierarchy (being the "utmost pleasure") then the notion is completely unsupported: the emperor wears no clothes (quite appropriate, given the subject :) ).

But don't you have a desire to connect that pleasure physically to existence?  To experience it through direct sensory perception rather than just emotion?  By what means can you do so?

What is wrong, or more accurately, what is *inferior* about connecting my pleasure by mental means (read: having the knowledge that I am greatly productive and have finished a difficult project, for example) as opposed to physical means (sex)? And are you implying that when someone labors over a task he/she does not feel a physical connection with his/her work?

To answer your direct questions: no, I do not necessarily have a desire to experience my pleasure directly through sensory perception all the time. Sex is of great value, I will not deny that at all. I'm just saying that the pleasure I receive from, say, finishing a thesis paper in a very difficult college class and then being rewarded with a great grade is more intense (for me) and more enjoyable than the pleasure I receive from sex. I see no reason why similar things could not provide other rational people with pleasure greater than that which they receive from sex.

Of course I should have qualified my statement to read "for truly rational people."  But I hate making such qualifications and I understand why Ayn Rand had a disdain for having to do so.

I understood that you implied rational people, I think that for the purpose of this discussion we ought to assume we are discussing about rational people as it will cut to the principle of the matter. The argument on your side right now boils down to: rational people will realize sex is the utmost pleasure by the process of introspection. I'm asking, what about introspection necessitates one to arrive at the conclusion that sex ought to occupy the top spot on his/her value hierarchy? Knowledge is not automatic, there must be a process of 'internal debate' (read: reasoning), one does not just reflect upon their thoughts and realize, "Ah, yes, I was so foolish, why didn't I see before that sex is the utmost pleasure." It should be more like, "Is sex the greatest pleasure? Well, let me define it properly... Okay, let me compare this to productive work... Let me compare the physical and mental aspects of both... Is there something about them, contextually, that determines their value to me, a rational person?" etc. etc.

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Concepts of consciousness cannot use science to provide evidence for or against them.  They are observable only through introspection.

A priori?!!

But don't you have a desire to connect that pleasure physically to existence?  To experience it through direct sensory perception rather than just emotion?  By what means can you do so?

Pleasure cannot be separate from existence, so there is no need to try to connect it. I have also never heard of an indirect sensory perception, nor of an emotion not tied directly to certain sensations and perceptions. An emotion elicited through contemplation, rather than as an immediate response is still affected by causality, and is impossible without experience, which in turn is impossible without sensation.

Only if one allows sex to take on different definitions at the range of the moment.  If one develops its objective definition for man qua man (not merely man qua animal) and holds true to it, then it has only one place to fit.

Your definition of sex has love as the emotional/spiritual component of the act. Mine has "sex" as that component of the act (for lack of a better word, I'll overload the term.) Love is not something you start doing when you begin to have sex nor something you stop doing immediately afterwards (in general, unless your partner does something terrible right after you're finished.)

If you used only one definition of communication: exchange of information between people, then there is still a range of spirituality in such an act that has as much variance as an act can possibly have.

Edited by The Passion of the Koresh
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A priori?!! 

Um, that is not the same thing as saying something is a priori. The concept [of consciousness] doesn't come into existence on its own without any observations; it refers to something that you observe (the states of your own consciousness) and then conceptualize.

Emotions are measurable; by intensity. It is even possible that, on further understanding of how the brain works, we may be able to measure the intensity of an emotional state via some kind of external means; at the moment the only way to measure the intensity of emotions is to observe the weight people place on their emotions in varying circumstances.

My position is that masturbation is fine and healthy, in general, pornography is fine although it may not be healthy when you're getting into some of the really disturbing over-the-top stuff, and prostitution is immoral because it harms the individual prostituting themselves.

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Um, that is not the same thing as saying something is a priori.  The concept [of consciousness] doesn't come into existence on its own without any observations; it refers to something that you observe (the states of your own consciousness) and then conceptualize.

But how do you observe your consciousness? Where would you draw the line within between what you are observing in yourself and your perception of that which you observe? Your perception is a part of your consciousness, so it would change as you observed your consciousness, which would then change as a result of your changing perception...

That's another topic, really. Okay, it's not knowledge that somehow popped into your head, the Kant Fairy waving his wand saying "God says so." Is introspection reliable? I thought all things, excepting axioms, were capable of being understood and explained using logic and/or empirical data, so I'd rather be presented with that then told I should look within myself.

Edited by The Passion of the Koresh
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But how do you observe your consciousness?  Where would you draw the line within between what you are observing in yourself and your perception of that which you observe?

If someone hits you in the knee, you don't get generalized pain over your entire body, right? You can observe the source of the pain and the pain is a distinct sensation that you can differentiate, correct? Ditto with observing your own consciousness. As with observing anything, you have to be scrupulous in your definitions and alert to changes in circumstances.

Is introspection reliable?  I thought all things, excepting axioms, were capable of being understood and explained using logic and/or empirical data, so I'd rather be presented with that then told I should look within myself.

Introspection is just as reliable as extrospection; consciousness, like reality, has an identity, a specific nature, and it functions as that nature dictates. A is A. You may not be as well-acquainted with the workings of your own mind as you are with the workings of outside reality, but that's no excuse for not at least LOOKING at it.

Axioms are capable of being understood via logic and empirical data. They are not subject to a process of reduction or proof, but they can be validated. What do you mean by empirical data? Someone's observations, right? So, when someone tells you to introspect, what they mean is: gather your own data from your own consciousness. That's REALLY the only way to know whether an idea about consciousness is being applied correctly; you cannot have direct experience of anyone's consciousness but your own.

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Sex is not a concept of consciousness.

Here again, the same old error of what sex can be (especially in our current culture) without regard for what sex should be.

Since the ideal definition -- the objective definition is the only one Objectivists ought to be concerned with, then all of these various definitions of "sex" that are not consistent with the Objectivist definition are heretofore ignored by me completely.

Sex is a physical capacity, but its exercise is determined by man's mind--by his choice of values, held consciously or subconsciously.  To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem--a celebration of himself and of existence.
-- Lexicon pg 457, original source The Objectivist Oct. 1968 "Of Living Death".

What is wrong, or more accurately, what is *inferior* about connecting my pleasure by mental means (read: having the knowledge that I am greatly productive and have finished a difficult project, for example) as opposed to physical means (sex)?  And are you implying that when someone labors over a task he/she does not feel a physical connection with his/her work?
Francisco d'Aconia (and thus, Ayn Rand) said in his speech about sex to Hank Rearden that "an idea unexpressed in physical action is contemptible hypocrisy". The emotional pleasure of achievement, the self-esteem one gains from one's efficacy, should be expressed, physically. It should be celebrated -- there should be physical pleasure associated with it, or there is no point. One who does not celebrate one's achievements physically becomes an overstressed, overworked burn-out who sees no point in accomplishing anything. Where is the reward? What is "happiness" in one's mind only, without a little song and dance to express it?

I'm just saying that the pleasure I receive from, say, finishing a thesis paper in a very difficult college class and then being rewarded with a great grade is more intense (for me) and more enjoyable than the pleasure I receive from sex.

Does your partner understand your emotional pleasure and its reasons? Does she grasp them first-handedly? Do you know that she does? Does she know that is what you are making love to her for? Do you know that she knows it?

I'm asking, what about introspection necessitates one to arrive at the conclusion that sex ought to occupy the top spot on his/her value hierarchy?

Sex is a physical celebration of the emotional sum of all one's accomplishments, of which the thesis paper is only one small element. This requires a broad-spectrum grasp of one's overall efficacy to achieve, and that can only be arrived at through introspection. How do you feel about yourself? What reaction does your body have to your mental estimate of yourself? Anything else that can be called "rational happiness" is only one small part of what sex celebrates.

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Your definition of sex has love as the emotional/spiritual component of the act.

Not "my" definition, the objective definition. It is at this point all I can say is "look and see". I can no more prove to you the mental components of "sex" anymore than I can prove to you that you are conscious.

Mine has "sex" as that component of the act (for lack of a better word, I'll overload the term.)
I have no idea what that means. Do you mean "sex for physical sex itself, apart from any notion of one's self-esteem?" If so, they you are trying to steal the concept of "sex" and replace it with "hedonism". I guarantee you that sex should not be defined this way. It is and has been defined this way in our current culture--so unless you will argue that the current culture must be right for whatever reason you might imagine, then you'll have to give way on this definition.

If you want me to believe that sex for man is objectively nothing more than a physical act involving physical pleasure, you'll have to show me how it should not contain any reference to self-esteem at all.

If you used only one definition of communication: exchange of information between people, then there is still a range of spirituality in such an act that has as much variance as an act can possibly have.

I'm sorry, I don't see the analogy. Communication is a means of exchanging ideas, sex is a celebration of self-esteem. Where is the similarity?

Also, how is it that "communication" should have a "range of spirituality"? Do you mean that communcation has a range of effectiveness? Do think that it should, ideally?

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Not "my" definition, the objective definition.  It is at this point all I can say is "look and see".  I can no more prove to you the mental components of "sex" anymore than I can prove to you that you are conscious.

Look at what? Where? My consciousness is an axiom, and I cannot doubt it, but searching within myself, no evidence for what you have said has magically popped into my head. Please, do not give me a trite "you weren't looking hard enough." I've had to listen to former friends bawling at me that if I'd only looked within myself, "for real this time," I would find God.

I have no idea what that means.  Do you mean "sex for physical sex itself, apart from any notion of one's self-esteem?"  If so, they you are trying to steal the concept of "sex" and replace it with "hedonism".  I guarantee you that sex should not be defined this way.  It is and has been defined this way in our current culture--so unless you will argue that the current culture must be right for whatever reason you might imagine, then you'll have to give way on this definition.

I wasn't being clear enough here. Sex has its own spirituality. Period. It doesn't matter what you call it, but it isn't the same as love and it isn't hedonism (making the purpose of life pleasure, which has again been brought into this conversation inapplicably) to suggest that something can be spiritual and not be love. Changing semantics of a word has always been a classic strategy; the opponent is left with no words that would be acceptable to describe something (unless he invents them, opening himself up to another kind of mockery), and he loses the argument by default.

If you want me to believe that sex for man is objectively nothing more than a physical act involving physical pleasure, you'll have to show me how it should not contain any reference to self-esteem at all.

No, I don't. No act involving physical pleasure can be without a reference to self-esteem.

I'm sorry, I don't see the analogy.  Communication is a means of exchanging ideas, sex is a celebration of self-esteem.  Where is the similarity?

I don't know, it was a stupid analogy. Disregard it.

Edited by The Passion of the Koresh
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