CPHL 606 Philosophy of Love and Sex

CPHL 606 Philosophy of Love and Sex





Final Examination

CPHL 606 Philosophy of Love and Sex



Answer 1

In respect of the ideal role of love in the world, both Plato and Aristotle had interesting approaches. Some of the key points of both Plato's notion of the highest form of love through Diotima's ladder and Aristotle's virtue philia are mentioned below.

  • A beautiful body – For Plato’s Diotima, a beautiful body is the starting point when love is aroused in an individual by the sight of beauty. This is Aristotle philia refers to the passionate yearning and desiring of eros. Philia in this sense is the appreciation and fondness of others. However, for Aristotle, this is not limited to lover and also includes loyalties to the political community, family, discipline or job. Aristotelian love is not hedonistic and is more of a reflection of pursuit for noble and virtuous.
  • All beautiful bodies – After recognizing the beauty, the love moves beyond the passion for the body and the lover eventually comes to recognize something in common in Platonic doctrine. Aristotle on the other hand, also elaborates that the proper basis of philia is objective: who share our dispositions, who seek what we do and appropriately admire us. Aristotle also mentioned that the best form of friendship is among those who are good, and alike in virtue.
  • Beautiful souls – Then, the lover comes to realize the importance of moral and spiritual beauty as compared to the physical one. So now he yearns to interact with the noble characters in order to become a better person. Aristotle has perfectionist or elitist view regarding love and suggests that inequality of love should be proportional and the better one should be loved more. However, at the same time, self-love is also important in the Aristotelian conception of love and the first condition of love is that man loves himself. 
  • Beautiful laws and institutions – These laws in platonic doctrine are created by good people that are the good souls and are conditions which foster moral beauty. In the Aristotelian view, love is governed by the god.
  • The beauty of knowledge – Although Plato did never mention a reason for this, he claims that lover eventually turns his attention to all forms of knowledge, but especially the philosophical understanding. In Aristotle's point of view, the love transcends by a deep respect for the lady and gets to a higher ethical and metaphysical status than physical or sexual attractiveness alone.
  • Beauty itself – This is the final form of love and beauty in Plato's Diotima which is described as an everlasting loveliness which neither goes not comes and neither fades nor flowers. This is the ultimate essence of beauty, that is to subsist itself in an eternal oneness. The lover who ascends the ladder comprehends the beauty in a kind of revelation and vision. Aristotle’s version suggests that special love to two people find in each other’s’ virtues two bodies and one soul and is of higher status, aesthetically, ethically that love that physicalists and Plato describes.

Therefore, Platonic love suggests the ultimate role of love is to nurture the desire for philosophical insight and understanding, while Aristotle’s conception of love is of the brotherly love while includes friendship of unity, pleasure and the good.


Answer 2

  • Kant’s view on sexual morality are conservative and traditional, he opposes every singly form of sexual practice except for the one between a husband and wife. Kant objects casual sex and suggests that we do not own ourselves and are not at our own disposal. He is correct in his assessment that casual sex is a dishonour to human nature and is simply about the satisfaction of sexual desires, rather than about respect of the partner's humanity. I agree with Kant's moral philosophy in regards to love and sexuality as it degrades humanity to an object of sexual desires and limits it to act as an instrument for the satisfaction of inclinations and lusts. 
  • Moreover, Kant also suggests that prostitution is morally wrong as a man cannot dispose of himself as he is not his own property. In contrast to libertarian notions, Kant insists that we do not own ourselves and that we should not treat ourselves or others merely as an object. Kant's conception of autonomy is not unlimited. For instance, in order to be autonomous is to be guided by laws which one gives himself, that is the categorical imperatives, and such an imperative requires that man should treat others with respect. Therefore, acting autonomously entails that we do not objectify ourselves and should treat ourselves with respect. Hence, we cannot use our own bodies the way we please.
  • Kant concludes that in order to avoid the degradation of humanity, sex within marriage is the only option. Only when individuals do not merely use their partners for their sexual capacity and two individuals give one other the whole of themselves, the sex can become anything other than objectifying. Even though Kant can be wrong in his assessment that no such unions can even occur outside of marital engagement, or that having sexual relations outside of such arrangement involves nothing more than sexual gratification, his thoughts on sex are sound and highlight the difference between the ethic of respect for autonomy and the ethic of unfettered consent.
  • Another key point Kant made was that human beings tend to be evil and succumb to what they want instead of what is good. Kant implicitly acknowledged the uncommon power of sexual desires and their power to direct humans from doing the right thing. Therefore, he claimed that sex was especially morally condemnable and is only focuses on lust on the body, and reduces others to mere things. While it may be tempting to think that there is no harm in objectifying each other for pleasure. The main argument here is that such desires, diminish the capacity of people to reason and worthy of moral respect. In addition to this, while setting aside their rationality, one also sets aside their humanity.


Answer 3

  • Schopenhauer is by far my favourite philosopher as he was the first major Western philosopher to take eastern philosophy seriously and offered some of the most original thoughts in the western tradition. He was also unflinching in terms of the search for truth no matter where leads and one can disagree or agree whether he found it, but there is no doubt that he was one of the most sincere philosophers and disliked the way contemporary philosophers preferred to maintain the status quo for a stable salary and comfortable position. Moreover, his writing is among the best among German idealists and is more accessible than his precursors which gives reason to infer that his thoughts have more depth and clarity as compared to others. 
  • Schopenhauer’s work was based on the works of Kant, and like Kant, he also believed that the world can be separated into two aspects, one which can be experience and other which cannot be experienced. His breadth of though is also astounding and explains why he influenced major scholars from different disciplines such as Nietzsche and Karl Popper. Schopenhauer was interested in Buddhism and worked to enlighten the pessimists. His philosophy begins by giving a name to key forces within every one of us, namely, reason, logic and moral sense, which he referred to as the will to live. Schopenhauer was also very respectful of love and suggested that love is the most important and most miserable underlying project of our lives.
  • Schopenhauer is comically and beautifully gloomy about human nature and mentioned that there is only one inborn error in all of us, which is that we exist in order to be happy. Also, as long as we persist in such an inborn error, the world seems like its full of contradictions. That's why Schopenhauer suggested that the faces of most old people are etched with disappointment. But what differentiates Schopenhauer from others, is that he not only explains the problem but also offers solutions.
  • Another reason why I favour Schopenhauer is that while his own work is often regarded as less sophisticated and less palatable than his contemporaries like Kierkegaard and Hegel, his superiority lies in his influence over the next generation of thinkers like Freud and Nietzsche. And similar to philosophers like Nietzsche, his body of work can seem initially shocking in its bleakness and negativity, but upon closer examination, one can understand its wisdom for living well.
  • Furthermore, while most readers prematurely shy away form Schopenhauer due to his grim worldview, that life is mainly hardships and suffering and that the only moment of beauty and happiness can come through the realisation of this bleak reality. However, this is not a bad realisation as even though the sweet-smelling flowers constitute only a fraction of the rose bush, the overall impression is still a good one. It might sound counterintuitive, but the harshness is the very thing which allows the life to thrive.


Answer 4

  • Derek McCullough and Davis Hall share their thoughts on Polyamory in their research paper termed “Polyamory – What it is and what it isn't". Authors mentioned the philosophy and practice of polyamory and discussed the ethical implications of the same. Authors described that polyamorists philosophy is nothing except the simple celebration and acceptance of the human nature and polyamorists suggest that sex is not the enemy, the enemy is the betrayal and deceit of trust which results from participating in an unnatural and rigid social system.
  • I find Derek McCullough a better author as his experience as a minister and leader of the UU church in Christchurch has given him a more clear perspective on moral and ethical issues which makes his writing more accessible and succinct.
  • Authors further contrasted monogamy with polygamy and mentioned the reason for monogamous marriage being the only acceptable as it is our natural state and that it is the only moral state which is approved by god. Authors noted that polyamorists are affiliated with the GLBT community mainly due to the same reasons which are given by right-wingers for their denunciation of homosexuality.
  • McCullough and Hall shared that polyamory is not the solution for relationship problems and that just like monogamy, it needs to be taken responsibly and it is also embedded with its own challenges. Authors proposed that we live in a culturally monogamous society which puts polyamory at the lunatic fringe side and also makes it dangerous due to political climate.


Answer 5

  • Bertrand Russell is one of the most lucid yet luminous thinkers. His insights into human nature illuminate everything forms the longing for grace and the impulse for destruction. His thoughts on love and sex can offer a significant explanation regarding the same and can raise the understanding of scholars. Russell stated that although both knowledge and love are necessary, love in itself is more fundamental as it leads intelligent people to help the ones they love. But at the same time, people who are not intelligent can content to believe what they are told and can do more harm despite their genuine benevolence.
  • Bertrand is also cautious to note that in order to know love, one must understand the various dimensions of love. Bertrand perceives love as an emotion which oscillates between pure delight in contemplation and pure benevolence. This form of enjoyment is the source of art and is stronger in young children than adults who are predisposed to perceive an object in a utilitarian spirit.
  • For Bertrand Russell, love at its fullest is a combination of two-element, well-wishing and delight. The pleasure of parents in successful and beautiful child combines both elements, and sex-love at its best does the same. However, in sex-love benevolence only exists in case of secure possessions or else jealousy destroys it, while possibly increasing the pleasure in contemplation. Therefore, delight without well-wishing can easily become superior and cold and the person who wishes to be loved desires to be the object of both elements.
  • Russell also suggested that all moral rules should be tested by examining whether they realize ends that are desired by us. Russell does not refer to the ends humans should desire, as for his what should be desired is merely what others wish us to desire, such as school-masters, judges, parents and policeman. Desire, as Russell insists, is a driver so potent that is cannot be controlled or legislated against with the help of any stick and carrots system, and can only be cultivated and harnessed.
  • Russell also provides insights on current morality and mentions that it is a curious blend of superstition and utilitarianism, but the superstition part is stronger as according to Russell, superstition is the origin of moral rules. Moreover, Russell claims that ethics is only differentiated from science through desire, not knowledge, and further suggests that the conception of morality is completely divorced from the actual realities of human experience. Russell recognizes the absurdity of religious and superstitious thinking and points that critical thinking is necessary to make up own mind in examining what proposed dangers of what is being termed as immoral by superstition.




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