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Pornography and species

Does the image above constitute pornography? The definition of pornography is something like “an image, words, or engraving that produces sexual stimulation; or is intended to produce sexual stimulation.” Personally, I don’t find that this statue sexually stimulates me—I don’t want to masturbate to it.

However, I can’t say that in certain circumstances it wouldn’t cause sexual stimulation. It does feature attractive naked women (or, as aestheticians would say, “nude”, not naked—and hence it’s an object of aesthetic appreciation; a naked woman is indecent, a nude statue is divine).

Was it intended to cause sexual stimulation? If we don’t know the sculptor and the context, we can only extrapolate from the way it’s posed. It’s not in a pose that is sexually provocative, so I would say it’s not intended to cause sexual arousal. Could it, though? Yes—for sure.

There’s probably never been such an extended discussion on the topic in the West since Victorian museum curators pondered over whether or not such objects could be “exposed” to ladies without a scandal (images of Scarlett O’Hara’s daughter turned “fast” like her mother and racing to a Richmond museum to see “the Greek ladies”, hence “acting scandalous” and causing “much commotion” among “respectable people”).

The only sure test, not in the dictionary, is “I know it when I see it”. Because it’s too difficult to say in an abstract way—in a society where all such depictions are infrequent, like, perhaps, Scarlett O’Hara’s South, then it may well be read that way; but in contemporary Rome, where such statues are frequent enough, it never would be.

This is related to the concept “species”. You might think that an important scientific concept like “species”—as in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection—would be objective. But it isn’t. There’s no agreed definition as to what constitutes a species—sure, as with pornography, there’s a dictionary definition; but I mean in the real-world, as far as people who actually classify species goes.

The same could be said about the concept “race”—and that’s why leftists will often say “nobody can agree what ‘a race’ is, therefore it doesn’t exist—it’s pseudoscience”. Well, it’s selective—because you don’t hear them say the same about “species” when it comes to Darwinism (because it supports their materialism).

And yet they do say the same about “pornography” because, again, it’s convenient for it not to exist for them—as Tom Lehrer sung, “When correctly viewed / everything is lewd / I could tell you things about Peter Pan / and the Wizard of Oz / there’s a dirty old man”. So the view from the Jewish musical mathematics professor at Harvard is “if anything could be, nothing is”.

The point is that as far as “species” and “race” go these terms demonstrate how science eventually relies on qualitative decisions—even if you say, “Genetics plus AI can tell us the species now,” if that’s true, the fact remains that for centuries, for science to reach its current state, the people who classified species relied on intuition.

In fact, I think it’s still done by intuition today—and there must be many other concepts in the sciences that basically have no agreed definition but are used to classify and manage facts about the world (an example of where Positivism breaks down, so that science can’t explain everything—which in turn opens the field for qualitative approaches, like religion).

Further, for political convenience people are sometimes very aware that these concepts can’t be pinned down, draw attention to how “irrational” the concepts are, but for other concepts, those that suit their agenda, just accept that intuition is fine and that no objective definition is required.


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