This aporia is a self-engendered paradox which, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, Ricoeur is not able to go beyond: he cannot name the Other/other (whether l'Autre as a general category for the Other or l'autrui as a term for another person). My contention is that in appropriating Irigaray's questions, we can begin to refigure Ricoeur's account of self-identity, extend his use of 'the trace of the Other' and conceive the non-essential meaning of sexual difference. As it is Ricoeur's account of self-identity seems to eclipse sexual difference in being dependent upon the patriarchal monotheism which has shaped western cultures both socially and economically. Yet according to Irigaray sexual difference will be conceiveable once (i) both men and women can gain identities as subjects, and (ii) the difference between them can be expressed. Arguably Ricoeur's notion of narrative identity, to which I will return, could express this difference and these distinct identities.
Therefore, whether it is Sigmund Freud’s idea that excess is surplus stimulation or Leo Bersani’s contention that excess is a structure-shattering experience, both rely on the otherness of sexuality. Upon analysis of both their work, it is clear that the concept of excess has the ability to overcome shame through the otherness of sexuality. It is of particular interest to look at sexuality in relation to the modern daily life. What may seem abnormal and even abject in daily life is constitutive in human sexuality. It goes beyond normal functioning, rationality, and purposefulness, making sexuality inherently excessive.
The purpose of this was to remove the bias of cultural normality in an attempt to reveal an accurate account of human sexuality through its constituents. Reducing this complex concept into its basic elements de-familiarizes established normality, allowing a temporally and culturally relevant theory to be constructed descriptively from the bottom up. This method prevents the acceptance of fallacies and misunderstandings of a top-down method of analysis, i.e., defining normality without cognizing abnormality. In doing so, Freud challenged the widely accepted biological innateness views of human sexuality at the
These extremes are essentialism and constructionism (Harding 6-17). It is most likely that the truth behind the construction of sexuality lies somewhere in between these two ideologies. Understanding the two is critical in determining one’s own theories and beliefs on the subject. Jennifer Harding describes the two ideologies in detail in her essay Investigating Sex: Essentialism and Constructionism. Simply put, the essentialist perspective is the view that sexuality is a product of biological destiny.
Soble outlines “Kant’s sex problem” and Kant’s solution, Soble also gives his own solutions, and in learning both I feel the solution is in externalism. Immanuel Kant defines his second formulation of the Categorical Imperative as knowing the value of a person. It is demeaning to use a person without his or her consent for self-gratification, especially sexually. Kant describes this as using a person simply to serve a means rather than an end, simply put rather than being a concrete loving act with the end of creating new life sex treated as only “scratching an itch”. The idea that Kant, “must take on the other’s ends for their own sake, not because that is an effective way to advance my goals in using the other,” is a way of saying that a man must care enough about the other person treat them as fairly and justly as he wants to be treated (Soble 228).
In this case, Kant’s solution to the problem is a thick externalism that is minimalist. Howard Williams made a shrewd observation on Kant’s solution that the most significant of Kant’s argument involves treating oneself and their partners as objects. Therefore, this clearly, demonstrate that marriage is the only ethical desirable context for sex, Kant should start from better premise than the claims that sexual activities are restricted to marriage. There are two proposed solutions to the problem, the internalist solution and the externalist solution. Furthermore, the internalist resolutions offer advice on the modification of the character of sexual activity so that the individuals engaging in the sexual activity conform to Kant’s Second Formulation.
Maybe it is because the Other, in his radical otherness [alterite], or in his irreducible singularity, has become dangerous or unbearable. And so, we have to conjure up his seduction. Or perhaps, more simply, otherness and dual relationships gradually disappear with the rise of individual values and with the destruction of the symbolic ones. In any case, otherness [alterite] is lacking and, since we cannot experience otherness as destiny, one must produce the other as difference. And this is a concern just as much for the body as it is for sex, or for social relationships.
In direct opposition to this idea, Judith Butler’s interpretation reverses the roles altogether, claiming instead that the body and its sensations are shaped by the psyche (1998). This subversion is important, insomuch as it places the epicenter of sexuality foremost, in the human mind. More importantly, this placement eradicates the ability to label sexuality as a lower function of thinking, or an illness to be treated. Isay’s interpretation of gayness as a naturally occurring disposition of sexuality runs concurrently with Butler’s conceptualization of a mentally driven, non-fixable, fluid preference, which finds no room for treatment as an
Sexual Morality “There must be integrity between body and life. You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life” (Keller). Keller is directly talking about our individual sexual morality and how or how not it should be perceived in a social context. Most people think sexual dilemmas of it in a broader spectrum, not directly related to one’s morality, by saying “this act isn’t right” where others may simply say “why not”. Yet, what justifies an act for one person and condemns it for another?
His ideas lead away from the idea that sex has a means end and leads to a more primal basis that sex is a desire for physical contact and the need to fulfill this desire for physical contact. In the end I will argue that his definition leaves out our basic cognitive functions and defines humans as to primal form of being. This leads us into his central arguments for why he sees it logically necessary that sex is a need for physical contact and the pleasure that comes from it. One of the first parts of Goldman’s arguments is that he believes that we run into trouble with defining sexual perversion is due to how we define sexual behavior and desire. The main reason he seems to find fault in this is due to the fact that he does not see sex as a means to an end.