• IvoryBlackBishop
    299
    This is an odd topic; I've heard that Emanuel Kant believed that masturbation was a violation of "moral duty to the self" or something along those lines, but I'm not sure what his line of logic or reasoning was.

    Does anyone have any other opinions on this subject?
  • Bitter Crank
    9k
    The general principle that "anything worth doing at all is worth doing well" certainly applies to masturbation. The experience of billions is that masturbation is imminently worth doing as often and as well as possible.

    Kant:

    Masturbation has been considered "A Problem" for quite a while--a perversion, an act against god (one ought to fuck a member of the opposite sex and beget children), an act against the state, an act against whoever wanted to feel aggrieved about it. It has variously been considered unhealthy, a drain of vital energies (see books about tantric sex) and precious bodily fluids (see Dr. Strangelove), and a crime. Some guys think it is an insult to their manhood that they should ever have to masturbate--somebody should jolly well make themselves available to fuck.

    Fortunately a lot of people have dispensed with the nonsense of ages past and no longer give a rat's rear end what Immanuel Kant thought about masturbation.
  • Sir2u
    2.4k
    I've heard that Emanuel Kant believed that masturbation was a violation of "moral duty to the self" or something along those lines, but I'm not sure what his line of logic or reasoning was.IvoryBlackBishop

    He was a wanker, don't believe anything he said.
    How could the act of pleasuring one's self be a sin or crime. Is it not true that one must love thy self before being able to love another. And what greater love of one's self that making one's self happy.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    Kant though lying was always wrong even to save a life but capital punishment was A-OK. Whatever merits his formal philosophy may have had, as a person he doesn’t seem to have been all that great at applying it consistently.
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    299

    I'm tempted to venture some aesthetic arguments against masturbation, if nothing else.

    And not specifically about "masturbation", but I'm not sure that healthy self-love as promoted by psychology can be conflated with "self-indulgence", such as overeating and the morbid obesity which tends to correlate with that "narcissistic" variant of "self-love" - rather I'd be more inclined to view a measure of self-discipline or restraint as actual "self-love", and pure self-indulgence as more akin to neglect.


    If by "happy" you mean pure self-indulgence, I don't see that as a very meaningful end or that true "happiness" could be reduced to pure indulgence (if that was the case, then I'd venture that our Neanderthal ancestors would have discovered the secret to "happiness" eons ago, and that no modern existential thought on the subject would be necessary).

    Whether one quotes Kant. John Stuart Mill, or any other modern philosophical thinker.
  • tim wood
    5.6k
    Kant though lying was always wrong even to save a lifePfhorrest
    Where did he say this? If you're thinking the murderer at the door, he did not say that there.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.6k
    I was thinking of the murderer at the door. What exactly did he say that was not quite that?
  • tim wood
    5.6k
    I commend you to the reading. But even before that you might have paused and remembered that very little of Kant is simple. Part of his argument was that at a) the moment of the lie you might well be doing harm rather than good, and b) that in lying you're placing yourself as responsible, but without having corresponding necessary knowledge or control, and so forth.

    ,http://www.mesacc.edu/~davpy35701/text/kant-sup-right-to-lie.pdf
    (Note the author.)

    In my opinion, to the simpler question of whether one may lie to save a life, and granting all Kant's reservations, then he might well have agreed.
  • darthbarracuda
    3.1k
    like most things, when done in moderation, it's fine, healthy even
  • Mijin
    78
    As is often the case, the real mystery is why anyone gives a fuck about who touches their own junk.

    And I think the answer is, we're a social species and it is something that is embarrassing. Consciously, I'm 100% on board with it being natural and healthy, but I would still be mortified if friends, family or the internet were to see me stroking the goomba.
    And when people feel shame about something, it's natural to retroactively try to think of why that activity must be wrong.
  • Saphsin
    250
    Here’s a list of Kant’s other unsavory comments. Not a fan of his meta-moral views either so there’s no controversy for me.

    schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2010/03/kant-on-killing-bastards-on.html?m=1
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    258
    I think the circumstances surrounding masturbation may often bring up ethical questions. For example, is it ethical to masturbate while you are in a relationship if you are not thinking about your SO while your doing it? Is it ethical to watch porn if you’re in a relationship while you masturbate? What kind of porn is it ethical for a single person to masturbate to? Almost everyone would agree that it would be unethical if someone masturbates to child porn and most people would probably think that it would be unethical to even fantasize about children while you masturbate. The same goes for fantasizing about your siblings or fantasizing about rape or masturbating to photos of women taken without their consent in the dressing room for example. It may also be unethical to masturbate in a dangerous manner such as one involving autoerotic asphyxiation. It can also be unethical to spend too much time masturbating if it keeps you away from accomplishing all that you would like to accomplish.

    So, the devil is really in the details here. Almost anything could have some moral concern under some circumstance. For example, you don’t have to be an antinatalist to think that a fairly mundane act like reproduction can often be morally problematic if it is done in a careless manner for example. Similarly, one does not have to be a religious or Kantian prude to understand that there’s probably a lot of people who do have problematic masturbation habits(at least if they are in a relationship or masturbate too often or watch messed up porn).
  • Jack Cummins
    486

    I think that the reality of life is that many people have not found the relationship which they would like to have. Rather than seek other alternatives including shallow sexual encounters or prostitution surely masturbated is a best option.

    Masturbation avoids the problem of safe sex. Also, at the present time of the pandemic we are almost prohibited from meeting others so masturbation is about the only uncomplicated form of sexual expression left open.

    I see that some people have spoken of fantasies while masturbating and I would say that it is likely that those fantasies would likely be experiences anyway. Surely life cannot be about regulating people's fantasies but about ensuring that they treat other people with respect and cause no harm to others. Any prohibited on fantasy life in itself would be about thought control.

    All in all, I would argue that masturbation is about one of the only free ways of sexual expression in a broken and an increasingly coercive world. Surely it should be accepted rather than anyone being made to feel guilty about it. It is about acceptance of one's own body and sexuality. In this way, it can be seen as a spiritual act.
  • Echarmion
    1.6k
    So, the devil is really in the details here. Almost anything could have some moral concern under some circumstance.TheHedoMinimalist

    That seems to me a perversion (no pun intended) of the notion of morality. Morals / ethics are about interpersonal relationships / conduct. Fantasies or wishes do not enter into it. So unless you have an agreement with your partner regarding masturbation, I don't see how any of it could be of moral concern. And I think that applies even to fantasies which contain immoral acts.

    About the only moral duty you have regarding your fantasies is to ensure that they don't turn into an addiction.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    Masturbation may have the only sexual act in which poor Kant engaged. I think there's nothing indicating he had sexual, or romantic, relations with anyone.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    moral duty to the selfIvoryBlackBishop

    This, in my humble opinion, suggests some kind of, in Kantian ethics, failure of duty to the self. How? In what sense? I'm completely stumped.

    The only duty to the self that seems relevant seems to be not to hurt yourself i.e. avoid self-harm at all costs or thereabouts. Was Kant a coeval of those physicians who held and propagated the belief that masturbation was harmful to one's health? :chin:
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    It has variously been considered unhealthy, a drain of vital energies (see books about tantric sex) and precious bodily fluids (see Dr. Strangelove), and a crimeBitter Crank

    Just what I need to make my case Thanks.
  • ArguingWAristotleTiff
    3.9k
    @Tobias
    Thoughts?
    @Benkei
    The two members above have written some amazing thoughts on love. Which is why I ask them their thoughts.
    My personal philosophy?
    Meh..
    twisted idea that is still guilt laden for me with some serious Catholic underpinnings.
    Maybe it is different for a woman because at least for me the goal of masterbation is to orgasm.
    Given the goal, the way to get me there is to lose the need to control the way I am going to feel and let my mind float above (total cleared mind) what is driving me there, to climax BUT that is where I am snapped back to the realities in my mind and it blows any chance of achieving of my goal.
    I have all but given up so I guess I have failed my moral duty in Kant's eyes.
    Anyway, that's my two cents worth and if I could get my change I will be on my way.
    Tiff
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    It has variously been considered unhealthy, a drain of vital energies (see books about tantric sex) and precious bodily fluids (see Dr. Strangelove), and a crime.Bitter Crank

    General Jack Ripper was more concerned with the physical act of sex with a partner. The trick, as he saw it, was to deny them your essence.
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    299

    I've heard the same about Bentham and some others.

    So assuming he was unable to form a lasting romantic relationship, you're saying that he never paid money for sex, despite being more than wealthy enough to, right?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    So assuming he was unable to form a lasting romantic relationship, you're saying that he never paid money for sex, despite being more than wealthy enough to, right?IvoryBlackBishop

    Not at all. I'm merely saying we know of nothing indicating he had sexual or romantic relations with any other persons. Masturbation, in that case, may have been of particular interest to him. But it's possible he paid for sex, of course. Perhaps he did so regularly, or was himself paid for sex, the randy fellow.

    Sorry. It's difficult for me to take pontifications regarding masturbation seriously.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    258
    I think that the reality of life is that many people have not found the relationship which they would like to have. Rather than seek other alternatives including shallow sexual encounters or prostitution surely masturbated is a best option.Jack Cummins

    Well, I think most people would probably say the absolute best option is to try to fix your relationship or try to avoid entering a bad relationship in the first place or maybe leaving that relationship. I agree that masturbation beats the other stuff you mentioned though.

    Masturbation avoids the problem of safe sex. Also, at the present time of the pandemic we are almost prohibited from meeting others so masturbation is about the only uncomplicated form of sexual expression left open.Jack Cummins

    That is a pretty good point. With the pandemic, it’s probably more ethical to masturbate then to get intimate with your SO.

    I see that some people have spoken of fantasies while masturbating and I would say that it is likely that those fantasies would likely be experiences anyway. Surely life cannot be about regulating people's fantasies but about ensuring that they treat other people with respect and cause no harm to others. Any prohibited on fantasy life in itself would be about thought control.Jack Cummins

    I agree but many people would disagree especially those from a religious background. Christianity has plenty of thought sins(in fact most sins in the Bible are thought sins.) Although, nobody believes that we can control our all our thoughts and the occasional bad thought is not thought of as being sinful in the religious traditions. But, it may be argued that one chooses to let their pattern of thought continue for too long and this puts them at a greater risk of acting on their thoughts.

    For example, suppose you have 2 guys who fantasize about molesting their young nephews. One guy is repulsed by his fantasies and tries to seek help from a sex therapist. The other guy is completely unbothered by them and continues masturbating while thinking about his nephew. Who do you think is more likely to molest their nephew one day?

    On a final note, it could be argued that the fantasies you have on a regular basis are a better indication of what lies deep in your heart than your actions are. Many people don’t act on their fantasies because they afraid of the consequences of doing so rather than genuinely being troubled by the behavior.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    258
    That seems to me a perversion (no pun intended) of the notion of morality. Morals / ethics are about interpersonal relationships / conduct. Fantasies or wishes do not enter into it. So unless you have an agreement with your partner regarding masturbation, I don't see how any of it could be of moral concern. And I think that applies even to fantasies which contain immoral acts.Echarmion

    Well, this excludes many popular ethical traditions from being counted as ethics in your book. Aristotelian ethics tends to have some focus on controlling fantasies. Even utilitarians would likely encourage fantasy control as a strategy to avoiding acting on that fantasy. The Christians are big on fantasy control as well. Also, who exactly gets to decide what ethics is about and what it’s not about? Isn’t ethics just a loosely defined phenomena that concerns the actions of people? Of course, it’s worth noting that thoughts and fantasies can be regarded as actions in a loose sense.
  • Jack Cummins
    486

    I entirely agree that regular fantasies are an indication of what is deep in the heart and I think that it is a separate topic from masturbation. I can see no logical basis for seeing why the fantasies of those who confess to masturbation should be any the worse than those who stay clear of it . If anything it seems to be connected to a belief about sin.

    The whole issue of sin is rooted in Catholic religion, which has its own shadow, including abuse of others and the act of masturbation is free of this entirely.

    I do agree that it may be better if people can have relationships with others. But I am not convinced that is the reality for so many. Perhaps I may be bombarded against this but I would be surprised if all the people, including philosophers, have found a relationship or have one at all.

    We may dream of finding the perfect partner but in the meantime, especially in the time of the pandemic, I would argue that masturbation can be an ethically acceptable outlet, innocent and free, accepting of our own sexuality, heterosexual, gay, bisexual, with no intent of harm to any living beings.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.7k
    Masturbation is definitely a Communist plot to undermine the free world. We cannot sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.7k
    Perhaps I may be bombarded against this but I would be surprised if all the people, including philosophers, have found a relationship or have one at all.Jack Cummins

    Most philosophers I've met need to get layed asap. I would bet my firstborn that this applies to most of the members on TPF.
  • Jack Cummins
    486
    You probably know a very different set of philosophers from, me although I did not realise you said 'ought' at first. Philosophers are not pop singers, but it is interesting and an entirely different debate: the sexual and romantic appeal of the philosopher?
  • Benkei
    3.8k
    Most people I've met need to get layed asap. I would bet my firstborn that this applies to most of the members on the human race.Merkwurdichliebe

    I fixed that for you.
  • Darkneos
    89
    I don't see it as an ethical issue at all since it doesn't really affect you unless you're watching them do it. Any concerns about it are likely a holdover from the times when humans were stupid and thought actions that didn't harm anyone else were immoral.
  • Sir2u
    2.4k
    If by "happy" you mean pure self-indulgence, I don't see that as a very meaningful end or that true "happiness" could be reduced to pure indulgence (if that was the case, then I'd venture that our Neanderthal ancestors would have discovered the secret to "happiness" eons ago, and that no modern existential thought on the subject would be necessary).IvoryBlackBishop

    No I was not talking about pure self-indulgence, I was talking about simple masturbation. The act of making yourself happy sexually is no different from taking a stroll to relax, or going dancing.
    Any of the good things in life can be overdone and become obsessions or vices, but that does not mean they they are evil.
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