Kant and Sexual Perversion
Alan Soble, "Kant and Sexual Perversion." The Monist 86:1 (January 2003), pp. 55-89.
44 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2013
Date Written: June 1, 2002
This essay explicates the thinking of Immanuel Kant on sexual perversion. The technique employed is close exegetical analysis of two texts, the Vorlesung (Lectures on Ethics) and the later Metaphysics of Morals (both the Rechtslehre and the Tugendlehre). Kant's judgments about particular sexually perverted acts or practices are very close to those of Thomas Aquinas (e.g., the unnaturalness of homosexuality and masturbation), except that Kant rests his judgments on both the Formula of Humanity (i.e., the Second Formulation) and an inchoate theory of Natural Law. Kant's abhorrence of deviant sexual is apparent in the harsh evaluations he makes about men who engage in same-sex sexuality activity and those who masturbate. These people degrade themselves lower than animals and do not deserve to be, or to be treated as, persons. Such judgments, based on Kant's incomplete Natural Law and a radically dramatic and wildly implausible application of the Formula of Humanity, suggest that Kant's treatment of sexual perversion, and of human sexuality in general, is better approached and understood by psychoanalysis (no, not Lacanian) than by philosophy.
Keywords: Immanuel Kant, Roger Scruton, Vorlesung, Metaphysics of Morals, Sexuality, Perversion, Homosexuality, Masturbation, Imagination, Formula of Humanity, Natural Law, Thomas Aquinas, Suicide
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