Tag Archives: sex

David Chalmers

Not every method of creating human-level intelligence is an extendible method. For example, the currently standard method of creating human-level intelligence is biological reproduction. But biological reproduction is not obviously extendible. If we have better sex, for example, it does not follow that our babies will be geniuses.

David Chalmers, ‘The Singularity: A Philosophical Analaysis’, Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 17, nos. 9-10 (2010), p. 18

Alain de Botton

Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values.

Alain de Botton, How to Think More about Sex, New York, 2013, pp. 5-6

William Styron

My more specific purpose in consulting Dr. Gold was to obtain help through pharmacology-though this too was, alas, a chimera for a bottomed out victim such as I had become.

He asked me if I was suicidal, and I reluctantly told him yes. I did not particularize–since there seemed no need to–did not tell him that in truth many of the artifacts of my house had become potential devices for my own destruction: the attic rafters (and an outside maple or two) a means to hang myself, the garage a place to inhale carbon monoxide, the bathtub a vessel to receive the flow from my opened arteries. The kitchen knives in their drawers had but one purpose for me. Death by heart attack seemed particularly inviting, absolving me as it would of active responsibility, and I had toyed with the idea of self-induced pneumonia –a long, frigid, shirt-sleeved hike through the rainy woods. Nor had I overlooked an ostensible accident, a la Randall Jarrell, by walking in front of a truck on the highway nearby. These thoughts may seem outlandishly macabre–a strained joke–but they are genuine. They are doubtless especially repugnant to healthy Americans, with their faith in self improvement. Yet in truth such hideous fantasies, which cause well people to shudder, are to the deeply depressed mind what lascivious daydreams are to persons of robust sexuality.

William Styron, Darkness Visible: a Memoir of Madness, New York, 1990, p. 53

Timothy Leary

Only the most reckless poet would attempt [to describe the sensation of an orgasm under LSD]. I have to say to you, “What does one say to a little child?” The child asks, “Daddy, what is sex like?” and you try to describe it, and then the little child says, “Well, is it fun like the circus?” and you say, “Well, not exactly like that.” And the child says, “Is it fun like chocolate ice cream?” and you say, “Well, it’s like that but much, more more than that.” And the child says, “It is fun like the roller coaster, then?” and you say, “Well, that’s part of it, but it’s even more than that.” In short, I can’t tell you what it’s like, because it’s not like anything that’s ever happened to you—and there aren’t words adequate to describe it, anyway. You won’t know what it’s like until you try it yourself and then I won’t need to tell you.

Timothy Leary, The Politics of Ecstasy, rev. ed., Oakland, California, 1998, pp. 128-129

Greg Egan

Sex is like a diamond forged in a slaughterhouse. Three billion years of unconscious reproduction. Half a billion more stumbling towards animals that weren’t just compelled to mate, but were happy to do it–and finally knew that they were happy. Millions of years spent honing that feeling, making it the most perfect thing in the world. And all just because it worked. All just because it churned out more of the same. […] Anyone can take the diamond. It’s there for the asking. But it’s not a lure for us. It’s not a bribe. We’ve stolen the prize, we’ve torn it free. It’s ours to do what we like with.

Greg Egan, Teranesia, London, 1995, p. 95

Richard Reeves

Mill’s sex life is important in terms of understanding him as a man, of course, but there are some philosophical implications too. Mill was his century’s pre-eminent thinker on the content of a good life—of which sex must surely form a part. More specifically, in his version of utilitarianism, Mill insisted that it was not only the quantity of pleasure that counted but its intrinsic quality. He distinguished between lower pleasures, defined as ‘animal appetites’ consisting of ‘mere sensation’ and ‘higher’ pleasures ‘of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments’. Mill suggested sampling, to see which was preferable: ‘Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.’ Mill’s view was that the majority of people who had experienced the pleasure of, say, having sex and reading poetry, would find the latter a more intrinsically valuable pleasure; but according to his own philosophical rules he would have been prohibited form making any such judgement unless he had himself experienced both.

Richard Reeves, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand, London, 2007, p. 154

María Esther Vázquez

Una vez, en un diálogo público que mantuvimos en una Feria del Libro, [Bioy Casares] nos explicó a mí y a la concurrencia que había tres clases de amores: “El fugaz, que dura el tiempo necesario para satisfacer el deseo y luego se olvida o se desecha sin pesar; el intermedio, que suele ser muy divertido pero al cual en un momento determinado lo alcanza el tedio y, entonces, se deja caer sin casi darse uno cuenta y, por último, los grandes amores que persisten en el recuerdo y a los cuales uno puede volver con renovado placer y esperanza. Éstos son los mejores.”

María Esther Vázquez, La memoria de los días: mis amigos, los escritores, Buenos Aires, 2004, pp. 142-143