Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethà

Second paragraph of third chapter:
True, some of us manage to rise above this aspect of our nature (or to sink below it). But these preconscious impulses remain our biological baseline, our reference point, the zero in our own personal number system. Our envolved tendencies are considered "normal" by the body each of us occupies. Willpower fortified with plenty of guilt, fear, shame, and mutilation of body and soul may provide some control over these urges and impulses. Sometimes. Occasionally. Once in a blue moon. But even when controlled, they refuse to be ignored. As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out, Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will. (One can choose what to do, but not what to want.)
There's probably a serious argument to be had about the extent to which monogamy is or is not a basic part of the way we humans interact with each other. Unfortunately only the barest traces of a serious argument are to be found in this book, which combines polemic, sarcasm and condescension to the point that you are clear that the authors think they are right, but can't really have confidence in what they say about anyone else, particularly anyone who thinks that pair-bonding is in any way important beyond the fantasies of the fiendish conspirators who have foisted it on generations of unwilling mates.

A mild strike in their favour is that they are very dismissive of Steven Pinker, who has certainly failed to convince me at all. I was also interested in the evidence presented that men in industrialised societies are producing fewer sperm, though this came at the end of so much straw-manning that I really wasn't sure I could trust it. But in general, it's a great example of how to take the very interesting discussion that one could have about polyamory, and then weaken it through the choice of rhetorical tools.

Tags: bookblog 2016, sex and sexuality, sexandgenderandsexuality
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