A Philosophical Investigationpublished as Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy of the Erotic in the United States, is a book about the philosophy of sex by the Roger Scrutonin which the author discusses sexual desire and erotic lovearguing against the idea that the former expresses the animal part of human nature while the latter is an expression of its rational side.
Scruton draws upon both analytic philosophy and phenomenologya philosophical movement founded by Edmund Husserl. Borrowing the term from phenomenology, he argues that sexual desire is characterised by " intentionality ", the quality "of pointing to, and delineating, an object of thought". He makes the case that common experiences related to sex, such as obscenitymodesty and shame, falling in love, and jealousy, involve intentionality.
He defends traditional sexual morality, but rather than basing his arguments on Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery, he writes from a secular perspective, following an approach suggested by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics.
He upholds the traditional condemnation of lust which he defines as sexual desire "from which the "Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery" of erotic love has been excluded" and perversion which he defines as "a diverting of the sexual impulse from its interpersonal goal". In his view, sexual perversion involves failure to recognise "the personal existence of the other", and Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery justifies its moral condemnation. He argues that homosexuality is a perversion, as is a form Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery masturbation.
He argues that science cannot provide substitute for the concepts which order everyday experience and that it may potentially harm people's understanding of human sexual desire. He criticises Sigmund Freudarguing that psychoanalytic theory unacceptably depends on metaphor and that its scientific status is questionable. He also criticises feminism and the work of the biologist Alfred Kinseydescribing it as reductive and as involving misrepresentation of sexual arousal and desire.
The book received positive reactions from some reviewers and unfavourable reactions from others. It has been called a classic work, and has been praised for providing insightful or appealing accounts of topics such as jealousy, sado-masochismsexual arousal, love and sexual desire, for its criticism of Freud, and for its originality.
A noted example of a work by a philosopher who argues that sex is morally acceptable only if it involves love and intimacy, it has been considered one of the most important works in the philosophy of sex and has influenced subsequent discussions of sexual ethics.
However, many of Scruton's conclusions were controversial. Sexual Desire has been criticised for Scruton's claim that sexual desire essentially aims at an individual person, his defense of conservative moral views, his arguments against feminism, his treatment of sexual behaviours such as homosexuality and masturbation and theories such as psychoanalysis and sociobiologyhis use of the concept of intentionality, his interpretation of the British political tradition, and his understanding of science.
Some reviewers wrote that the book contains errors of fact, would be difficult for people who are not philosophers to read, and presented arguments that were unlikely to convince readers not already in agreement with Scruton. Scruton discusses sexual desire and erotic love, and the views that philosophers have held of these topics.
He argues against Plato 's view that sexual desire expresses the animal part of human nature while erotic love is an expression of its rational side, and tries to provide a philosophical basis for sexual morality and to defend traditional moral views on a secular basis. He draws upon both analytic philosophy and phenomenologydespite some disagreements with its founder Edmund Husserland discusses the distinction between categories that involve "functional significance" and those that involve "explanatory power", respectively "functional and natural kinds.
According to Scruton, science cannot provide substitutes for "the concepts which order and direct our everyday experience" and may potentially harm our understanding of human sexual desire.
Scruton argues that philosophy and religion must help to sustain everyday concepts, such as that of the human person, when science threatens to undermine them. He attempts to "restore the concept of sexual desire to its rightful place" in the description of the lifeworld and show "why a science of sex can neither displace that concept nor illuminate the human phenomenon that it describes.
He follows the example of Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics by moving "from the facts of human nature to the morality which they imply. Arousal is defined by Scruton as the state of mind in which "the body of one person awakens to the presence or thought of another. "Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery" criticises views about sexual arousal expressed by authors such as Sigmund Freudthe founder of psychoanalysis, and the biologist Alfred Kinsey.
He refers to the Kinsey Reports as "exercises in reduction" because of their representation of sexual arousal as a bodily state, common to humans and non-human animals, which "so Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery those subject to it that they can find relief only in the sexual act" and whose "root phenomena" are "the erection of the penis or the softening of the vagina". He maintains that Freud's theory of the erotogenic zones paradoxically presents "the localised pleasures of the sexual act as the aim or object of desire", which in his view ignores both "the drama of sexual feeling" and "the fact of the other who is desired.
Scruton illustrates his view of the dependence of sexual pleasure and sexual arousal on the intentional object of experience with reference to the Bible 's account of Jacob and Leahand its retelling by the novelist Thomas Mann in Joseph and His Brothers —noting that Jacob did not Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery attractions in Leah that he had previously overlooked" and that "his pleasure in her was really pleasure in Rachelwhom he wrongly thought to be the recipient of his embraces".
He credits the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre with providing, in Being and Nothingness"perhaps the most acute philosophical analysis of desire", citing Sartre's metaphorical suggestion that the caress "incarnates" the other.
He also refers to the philosopher Thomas Nagel 's discussion of desire in Mortal Questionsthough unlike Nagel he holds that the intentionality exemplified by meaning is only sometimes, rather than always, found in glances of desire.
He argues that obscenity "involves the attempt "Kenneth dewey nicholson sexual battery" divorce the sexual act from its interpersonal intentionality", or the directedness of sexual arousal. According to Scruton, the face has a key role in desire because it is "the primary expression of consciousness, and to see in the face the object of sexual arousal is to find the focus which all attraction requires".
According to Scruton, sexual desire does not originate in sexual arousal or have sexual arousal as its aim.