Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

01 March 2006

Objectivism, Individuality, and Sexuality

Ayn Rand summarized Objectivism in the words, "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

This is a wonderful summary, which when thought through carefully, contains all the essentials. Nonetheless, it might be helpful to also say that Objectivism is the philosophy committed to reality, reason, rational egoism, productive achievement, individualism, heroism, sensual sexuality, and happiness on earth. This is not a better way to summarize Objectivism, but it is a useful supplement to make some of our values more explicit and to make still more contrasts with the philosophies most people accept today.

Perhaps one of the most jarring inclusions is the acceptance of and the value accorded to the sensual sexuality of man as one of his greatest pleasures. Objectivism is not only reality-directed and committed to a mental evaluation of that reality and to hard work. These goals seem to some people to be insufficient paths to happiness, though I think them exhilarating inducements. But we live in a society with serious reservations about individual pleasures on this earth, especially about the joy and life-stimulation available to us in a healthy, sensual sexuality. We also find a strong belief that individuality should be suppressed in sexual expression. Virtually all of the religions have doctrines to deprive sexual pleasures of their value to us and to create a strong sense of guilt in the enjoyment of sex. In fact, they recognize the importance of robbing sex of its pleasure through guilt as a critical means to separate man from the pleasures of life on earth. This means of diminishing such earth-based pleasures makes it much easier to sell the trade of happiness in this life for happiness in an afterlife. The denial of the individual nature of our sexuality also undercuts our self-esteem and confidence in acting heroically to oppose the force of religious convention.

Objectivism offers us heaven on earth, while the religions only offer heaven in a dubious otherworldly setting. While religion generally allows man a very narrow scope for sex, which is not allowed to express his individuality, Objectivism sees it as one of life’s noble activities when shared with a moral person who shares one’s values. We should emphasize this advantage of Objectivism more. Religion offers the worship of God as the embodiment of the good, while Objectivism offers the worship of the best in man as the embodiment of the good. A key expression of our worship of the good in man is joining with another or others of good character in the act of shared sensual love. The Christians recognized this when they committed nuns to a life as the brides of Christ. But we love the best in man and we should express that sexually with good people in an integrated stimulation of mind and body on this earth.

Many people are greatly frustrated by the rigid and impersonal constraints on sexual expression rampant in society today. The sharing and worship of values in the sensual stimulation of our bodies and minds that good sex offers us is largely denied. The need for sex and the means of enjoying it have strong evolutionary roots. They are central to who we are as individuals. When society acts to discourage us from enjoying sex with all of its individual differentiating manifestations, this is a very fundamental attack upon individuality. It is also an attempt to ignore the biochemistry of the human body and mind, which is largely designed to allow man to enjoy and to be made healthy by sex. Good sex gives us peace of mind, it stimulates our minds, and it provides healthy exercise. It is an expression of the healthy animal that man needs to be if he is not to daily live a life attempting a mind-body dichotomy. This dichotomy is actually impossible given the integrated mind-body sexual machine that man is, but an unhealthy deprivation of sensual sex is very achievable. We can see this all too easily by observing the huge numbers of sexually deprived and frustrated human beings around us.

Good sex is an heroic act. It is an assertion of individuality, of shared values, of the integrated action of mind and body, of the worth of oneself, a means to explore and develop ourselves, and a central joy of life. In good sex, we come close to feeling and knowing god. We know that god is the best in us and that we have the power to achieve our own happiness on earth. Let us not succumb to the sad morality of the mystics and fail to assert our proud sexuality when we attempt to sell the ideals of Objectivism to a philosophically challenged society. That society needs to see the light, so people can heal their sexual dysfunction and end their brutal sexual frustration. We can and should help them.

Some will object that Ayn Rand’s vision of sex appears to be one of male-domination and excessive violence, so the sexuality of Objectivism is a hard sell. First, the reality is that the violence operates within a framework of adult consensual sex and was a definite form of role-playing that apparently appealed to the sexuality of the individual named Ayn Rand. Her expression of her individual sexuality is just that. Others are free to adopt other forms of sexuality more appropriate to their biochemistry, nervous system, fantasies, and experiences. Individuals are highly differentiated in many ways and there is little that is more complex and differentiating than our individual sexuality. Objectivism, as an individualist and reality-oriented philosophy, has to recognize and accommodate this. Few other philosophies do this and none do it within a rational system of philosophy. This aspect of Objectivism is incredibly important. It is also a sufficient driving force to motivate many people to read a novel of nearly 1100 pages length! Only a small fraction of Americans will otherwise ever do that.


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