Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Fetishes

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I don't see proportion at odds with reality either.

...and it isn't.

One sees bogus studies that say "XYZ will kill you", and it turns out they've been feeding pounds of it to rats. I wouldn't have thought that licorice was harmful...but there was a recent news story of a woman who had eaten a pound of licroice every day for 5 years...and the doctors suspected that had caused the medical problem she was having.

Often, the poison is in the dose.

Link to post
Share on other sites

AshRyan, thanks for your articulate reply to my questions. I understand your perspective better now, and while I agree that any intentionally degrading sex act is immoral, I maintain that it's difficult to judge such, as different people enjoy different things, and the reasons why are not always clear (this is where science comes in). However, if someone is clearly or explicitly seeking to harm or degrade, this is clearly unethical. (When I say harm, I am including intentional psychological harm under that umbrella.)

By the way, I wasn't putting sex on the level of hair combing - I was looking for an everyday, frivolous issue with which to question your contention about every act being analogous to nutrition. If sex was as commonplace and trivial as hair combing, the world would be a very different (and less interesting!) place.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it "truly harmful" to burn oneself with a cigarette during sex?  A lighter? A branding iron?  A blowtorch?  Or aren't there degrees of destructiveness involved in each of those pursuits?

[...]

Thus, degrees of harm and degrees of immorality.

That is correct. There can be various degrees of evasion, and thus there is a quantitative distinction between immoral people: "She is a bit immoral, he is quite immoral, his brother is very immoral," etc.

But a more important and relevant distinction is the qualitative one between moral and immoral people. "He is immoral. She is moral." Your goal should not be to minimize your immorality; you should strive to be moral. As Ayn Rand put it: "In the field of morality, only perfection will do."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Minimize immorality?

It sounds like you believe that every man is immoral to some degree. I have to disagree.

There is a certain range of choices that are optional within perfect morality. Eating junkfood is unhealthy, but only realistically so if you eat it every day, for a long time.

I grab a hamburger at McDonalds every month or two, and I don't consider myself "somewhat immoral" because of that. Giving another example: suppose smoking helps me concentrate on my writing, and so I deem it a value that is greater than the health issues involved.... Suppose I judge 60 years of smoking and writing more valuable than 80 without smoking, and finding it harder to concentrate... This is a personal, optional choice that every man has to decide after weighing all the implications.

Now back to Fetishes: I think it is easy to identify improper sexual behaviour (humiliating or debasing to yourself or your parter). However, some of it may be tied not to a volitional choice, but to a subconscious psychological problem. In which case, if the person recognizes that this is wrong - he can recieve therapy and not necessarily be considered immoral.

It's not immoral to have a phobia, which is also a result of a subconscious problem, if one is working on solving the issue alone, or with outside help.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Minimize immorality?

It sounds like you believe that every man is immoral to some degree. I have to disagree.

I'm not sure which of us you were responding to, but for my part, I don't see the implication that every man is immoral. The only implication that I see is that if one IS immoral and seeks not to be, one should seek to be wholly moral.

Now as to valuing a trade off of activities versus the shortening you life, where the tradeoff causes you to be either more productive or more happy, do you see a limit as to how much shorter you may make your life and still consider it a moral choice of values?

I have to give this some more thought and do some more reading. However my initial thought would be that chemical dependency is not a good thing. If one has to smoke in order to be able to write, that suggests a chemical dependency issue, not simply a choice. Then one would have to examine why the need to smoke to be productive exists. Do I understand your suggestion correctly when I say, as long as someone evaluates all of the values and consequences involved, the implications that result are immaterial in determining the morality of the action? Or more simply put, does the fact that the choice was wholly volitional justify it's morality?

However, some of it may be tied not to a volitional choice, but to a subconscious psychological problem.

Yes, that can be true in some people.

I'm not sure if you intended a connection or not, but phobias are not related to fetishes, at least not normally. Phobias are "unreasonable or irrational fears". Phobias result in avoiding something, fetishes result in pursuing something. I don't think the morality of phobias is at issue here.

VES

Link to post
Share on other sites
[1] However, I don't see proportion at odds with reality either.  And one also has to define the term "truly harmful".

[2] Is it "truly harmful" to burn oneself with a cigarette during sex?  A lighter? A branding iron?  A blowtorch?  Or aren't there degrees of destructiveness involved in each of those pursuits?  (none of which it would appear that Rand would accept as moral)

[3] To take this out of the realm of sex, consider the act of smoking cigarettes.  The context doesn't have to change with the quantity smoked, but the level of destructiveness will.  1 cig a day? 5 cigs a day? etc. etc.  At some point you will reach a level where it is truly harmful to you, but if you smoked even more, it would be even more truly harmful to you.  Thus, degrees of harm and degrees of immorality.

1. "Truly harmful", as I used it, means: "in reality, what you are doing is harmful to your life, whether you know it or not."

I realize that I'm not quite sure what you mean when you discuss "proportion" or "scale". However, I see a problem with using proportion as a kind of standard for determining either the "level of harm" or the "level of immorality" of a certain action--if that is what you mean.

If you mean something else, please clarify.

Proportion is merely an amount of something. It doesn't tell you whether that amount is harmful or immoral. That is determined by the facts of reality. For instance, injecting a lot of insulin into your bloodstream is probably not the greatest idea, unless you are a diabetic. Taking a heavy dose of morphine probably isn't good for your health, unless you just had your arm blown off and are in severe pain.

So, as I see it, the context surrounding the proportion is very important in determining whether that proportion is harmful or beneficial to your life.

2. Again, the context of the particular action is important. The moral question here is not: "How badly did you burn your flesh? And what instrument did you use?" The moral question is: "Why did you burn your flesh? Did it benefit your life or not?"

I can't think of an instance where burning yourself during sex would be pro-life. But I would not say that this act is intrinsically immoral.

3. I agree there are degrees of harm. But that is evaluated separately from proportion or amount, as I stated above. Also, I don't think "degree of harm" equals "degree of immorality", for the same reason proportion is not equal to harm. In all these cases (proportion, harm, immorality), we need to consider the full context of the situation.

The problem I have with "degree of harm" is that it seems you are taking it to mean strictly physical harm. To be synonymous with "degree of immorality", I think it would have to mean, more broadly, "harm to your life."

Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what you mean about physical harm (which is inclusive of physical harm up to death) versus, for the sake of discussion, quality of life. My sticking point revolves around the same question I asked erandror. I will however make it more specific than my previous question in light of clarified terminology.

As to valuing a trade off of activities/consequences for the purpose of enhancing the quality of one's life where one of the consequences involves the shortening of one's physical life and where the tradeoff causes you to be either more productive or more happy, do you see a limit as to how much shorter you may make your physical life and still consider it a moral choice of values?

As to the rest, I intend to read more and think more about it before continuing.

VES

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...