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Thomas Nagel’ Philosophic Views on Love and Sex Essay


Nagel’s account of sexual desire

According to Nagel, there is a big problem in the development of a definition of sexual perversion. Nagel clearly states that sexual perversion should portray a conduct that is deemed unnatural by the members of the society. Nagel’s sentiments about sexual perversion indicate that he believes that perversion involves behaviors that are not morally acceptable. Nagel also reveals that sexual perversion may be defined by a sub-group of the society. For instance, he reveals that Roman Catholics believe in deliberate sexual perversion in the form of using contraceptives. Nagel believes that sexual perversion is a psychological issue. It is also apparent that sexual perversion is associated with divergent activities that culminate in a convergent point of sexual satisfaction.

Nagel uses the example of Romeo and Juliet to demonstrate that sexual perversion and sexual attraction are different psychological concepts. He claims that if Romeo is attracted to Juliet’s hair and how she sips her drink, he is perverted because he is aroused not by the individual, but part of her behavior (Nagel, 1969). When Juliet becomes aware of Romeo and gets aroused by his body, Romeo also notices her looking at him, and mutual arousal results in sexual attraction between the two individuals. The importance of this example is to highlight the fact that sexual perversion may appear in the process of developing sexual desire, but it is just part of the communication between two individuals that are attracted to each other (Nagel, 1969).

Nagel’s determines if something is a sexual perversion

Nagel offers two arguments about sexual perversion. His first argument is a skeptical view of the concept, whereby he claims that sexual perversion is an appetite. He claims that sexual perversion is a normal behavior that people portray naturally; hence it should be accepted. However, Nagel negates this thought in the second argument, where he claims that not all sexual activities are normal. According to Nagel’s second sentiments, sex is an appetite, but when the sexual appetite of a person is inclined toward unnatural behavior, it becomes a sexual perversion. According to his example of Romeo and Juliet, sexual perversion is any form of sexual communication that does not offer a complete formation of a relationship. Nagel gives some examples of behaviors that he believes lack the elements of complete sexual communication, including Voyeurism and sadism (Nagel, 1969).

These sexual activities are considered unnatural by the society, and the process by which the individuals that prefer them get satisfaction raises questions about their psychological wellness. According to Nagel, it is important for the society to understand that while people determine the definition of sexual perversion according to the norms of the community, the basis of determining perverted activities should be whether the activities facilitate complete sexual communication. While most people address homosexuality as a form of sexual perversion, Nagel believes that homosexuality involves complete sexual communication; thus, it is not perverted. He also reinforces his stand that bestiality, fetishism, and the desire to have sex with more than one person are forms of perversion (Nagel, 1969).

Criticism

It is apparent that Nagel’s account of sexual perversion and the application of his theory omits masturbation, which is a contentious form of sexual activities. Nagel seems to deliberately avoid the argument of masturbation because his theory is centrally supported by the view that sexual activities must involve two individuals. He fails to consider masturbation because it would clearly reveal his line of thought as an inclination toward the sexual mythology of liberal Americans. This line of thought about sexual activities assumes that the most important thing about sex is enjoying the pleasure. The sexual mythology claims that sex is solely meant for pleasure; thus, Nagel’s theory and claims cannot be used as a strong basis of arguing out whether an act is perverted or not (Nagel, 1969). Nagel’s claims indicate that he does not consider cultural diversity as a determinant of the normality of any sexual activities. Nagel also assumes that as long as there is complete sexual communication between two people, sex between them would be normal and not perverted. However, it is possible for people to pretend in their quest to have sex with other persons. This should be categorized as perversion. It is also possible for someone to think of someone else when having sex with a different person. These possibilities reveal that while Nagel has provided some valid examples of sexual perversion, his thoughts cannot be used to describe perversion to its entirety because they are not comprehensive.

Reference

Nagel, T. (1969). Sexual perversion. The Journal of Philosophy, 66(1), 5-17.

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IvyPanda. "Thomas Nagel' Philosophic Views on Love and Sex." May 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-nagel-philosophic-views-on-love-and-sex/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Thomas Nagel' Philosophic Views on Love and Sex." May 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-nagel-philosophic-views-on-love-and-sex/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Thomas Nagel' Philosophic Views on Love and Sex'. 15 May.

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