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Gays and merry oldsters

I’ve argued that sex is right only when it helps constitute an enduring union between two persons that points beyond personal interest because of what the union is, and that can be so only in the case of sex within marriage that is open to new life. Someone who commented on my Sexual Morality FAQ asked why then “gay marriage” is so different from marriage between two 60-year olds, since both unions will be infertile. I replied that a union between two men is sterile by what it is—by the identity of the parties—while one between a 60-year-old man and woman is sterile by particular circumstances, their age and physical condition.

Any thoughts on the argument would be welcome. It seems to me it depends on three points: (1) persons and acts have an essential nature that’s not the same as their factual effects, (2) one’s sexual nature (as a man or woman) is essential to what one is, so that violating it violates oneself, and (3) the nature of sex includes a natural procreative aspect that is somewhat fuzzy, so it’s lost when we intentionally do something that defeats it but not when it simply fails to go to completion because of failure to act (i.e., abstention) or because of circumstances (e.g., time of month or physical defect).

All comments are welcome. It’s hard to think about these things abstractly, but it seems necessary now, when the modernist attempt to reduce reason to formal logic and means-end rationality has caused such practical problems in this and other connections.

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Joshua, for the record, when SixFootPole said, “In other words, self-assertion is paramount, and cannot be checked by reference to universal or objective truth,” he was quoting from Charlie’s post critical of him of March 3rd, 01:03 PM. Charlie’s criticism went on, “This is why anyone opposing that self-assertion [on the part of SixFootPole] is told to ‘shut up.’ “

In his comment of March 19th, 02:57 PM, SixFootPole is saying that Charlie’s implied criticism, far from being valid, *is precisely the point: there IS no truth.*

He illustrates this position in his next post, saying “Gee wiz, Henry! Where to begin? Maybe I should just ask if you’re getting enough oxygen since your ability to operate within observable reality is impaired.” His use of the term “observable reality” (meaning, of course, none other than “truth”) right after telling us the whole point is that there IS no truth, signifies—as Charlie claimed—that for him everything boils down to “self-assertion” and those who disagree can just shut up.

I would never go further in an exchange like this where not only is the sophistry on the issues simply mind-boggling but the unseriousness of the debater such that he’s coy about his screen name being a homosexual one.

Part of the sophistry of the other side is they want to have a rule that unless our side can overthrow the foundations of philosophy they can marry each other and use four year old boys for sodomy, a right I heard one of them claim on the Sean Hannity radio program not long ago. But that’s not how the game is going to be played. Yes, yes, that’s how some elites supposedly on our side, like the President, agree to play. Those elites can’t last, but will be replaced by a better class of opponent.

Of course Joshua is right that one of the things SixFootPole is articulating (and advocating) is nihilism—to the meagre extent he articulates anything intelligible at all, that is.

If there is no truth, there is only the shouting—and I suppose even that must be an illusion.

But SixFootPole is a poor representative of this viewpoint. If you feel obliged to confront it, I suggest you tackle Richard Rorty’s “Contingency, irony, and solidarity” instead.

Oops! I have not followed the thread closely and “SixFootPole” failed surround the quotation with quotation marks or to attribute it to Charlie. I was therefor uncertain as to whether the quotation was a quote or a statement. It would be helpfull if commentators would correctly mark and attribute their quotations.

No problem, Joshua. In fact, SixFootPole’s recent comments make it clear that he accepts my description of his position. He denies that there is any universal or objective truth against which self-assertion can be measured or validated.

I assume this is because he thinks, along with Rorty, that truth is a property of sentences. If there were no beings using language, there would be nothing which could be called true. Similarly, moral statements are something we manufacture to express our approval or disapproval. Without the judge, there is no judgment.

Obviously, this is not the meaning of the words “true” and “good” which are usually used here. Jim’s explication of marriage is couched in terms of essences, which he professes to find in reality. In a comment on another thread, I suggested that truth is something which is revealed, and that reason is a matter of being open to the truth which is revealed through experience, logic or grace. Unadorned is also taking a stand, not on words, but in reality.

Following my own advice, I opened up Rorty’s book for last night’s bedtime reading. I was struck by his description of the ironist as someone who is afraid that she might have been raised in the wrong tradition. It is this radical self-doubt which drives her to seek out the exotic stranger, in order to compare his experience to her own, and perhaps to adopt some of his ways. Behind all this is a myth of progress, which suggests that we can and should try to remake ourselves, to evolve into some presumably better existence. But at the core there is this hesitation, this sense of being unsettled, of not yet being at home in the world.

Traditionalism, at bottom, is an affirmation. It affirms our existence in what Heidegger calls a House of Being, but it doesn’t see that House as a trap or prison which confines us uncomfortably. Traditionalists are not claustrophobic about their vocabularies in the way that Rorty’s ironist is. On the contrary, traditionalists find sustenance and comfort in their traditions. A tradition is a fine place to dwell, and although the grass might be greener over in the next valley, our home is here and this is where we will stay.

The surprising thing is, it’s when you abandon the restless search for something better that you come to realize and appreciate the Truth and Goodness and Beauty of what you have been given.

I suppose I should explicitly state that the Left’s fascination with homosexuality and gay marriage is an instance of their search for the exotic in response to their own self-denial.

I.e., it isn’t only a matter of the liberal logic of equal rights. There is a deliberate embrace of sin, precisely in order to repudiate the tradition in which they were raised.

Originally, their hope was for a kind of Hegelian synthesis which would create a better form of existence. But now that they’ve gone on to deny any standards by which that new form of existence could be judged to be “better”, they have nothing left but their repudiation—their nay-saying.

Which is nihilism in a nutshell.

Actually, I don’t think the objective existence of essences is that hard a call. Even if you don’t like metaphysics it should be clear enough that there are complex patterns that are quite stable, within comparatively minor variations, and tend to revert to type. An example would be a biological species. A more abstract example would be a biome or ecological zone. Examples from human life would be the family and the people or nation.

The Left wants to claim that all these things are just a matter of line drawing, human construction and arbitrary will. Distinctions, they say, depend wholly on the purposes for which they are drawn. What possible reason is there to believe that? How could following that approach get anyone except Jeffrey Dahmer any place he wants to go? And how can you even make sense of (non-divine) purposes except with regard to a pre-existing order of things?

The basic objection of the Left to the patterns implicit in things is that the patterns are oppressive—they’re not what I or anyone else choose. It seems to me that objection springs from atheism—if the world is mindless stuff then subjecting my will to the demands of mindless meaningless stuff and the patterns it happens to fall into for some stupid reason is subordinating the more noble to the less noble, so it’s bad and one must rebel against it and defy and destroy the patterns to the extent he can. Why accept the atheist dogma though? What sense does it make to view my consciousness and will as more noble than the world out of which they grow and by reference to the order of which they function?

You Say:

“I suppose I should explicitly state that the Left’s fascination with homosexuality and gay marriage…”

WHO is fascinated with gay marriage and homosexuals? It seems that the RIGHT is!

“Originally, their hope was for a kind of Hegelian synthesis which would create a better form of existence. But now that they’ve gone on to deny any standards by which that new form of existence could be judged to be “better”, they have nothing left but their repudiation—their nay-saying.

Which is nihilism in a nutshell”

It is not nihilism, but the strategy of defining things by their negatives. Heterosexuality is defined not by its essentiality but by its distinction from the “OTHER” - homosexuality.

“I would like to develop a couple of ideas for you on the question of homosexuality. There are those homosexuals who take the view: what I do is my business, a purely private matter. However, all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation…”

—Heinrich Himmler, Speech to the SS Group Commanders, February 18, 1937

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