Monday, March 17, 2008

The Nature of Pleasure: Emotional or Physical?

Not too long ago, I got the first season of the original Star Trek on DVD. As I've re-watched the episodes, it's been almost like reliving some of the best parts of my childhood.

In several episodes, I saw Kirk the libertine in action seducing various women and it made me realize that he was probably my first role model in libertinism. I remember as a kid being very impressed with his conquests.

Then there was one episode where Nurse Chapel proclaims her love for Spock, but he cannot reciprocate because Vulcans cannot love as humans do, because it is an emotion contrary to logic. That reminded me of a subsequent episode where it is revealed that Vulcans only have sex every seven years for the purposes of reproduction, but are otherwise celibate. Again, the reason given is that celibacy is more congruent with a life devoted to logic than a sexually active life would be.

The underlying assumption is that sex is inseparable from love, thus is inherently an action of emotion.

I don't buy that. Sex, of course, can and does occur along with love, and it's true that many people prefer it that way. But it's not an inevitable thing.

Sex can be, and often is for me, a mainly physical matter, concentrating simply on the pleasure and release.

So, the question becomes: Is pleasure, sexual or otherwise, an inherently emotional experience, or is it mainly a physical phenomenon, though emotion can sometimes enter the picture?

Medical research has shown that having sex regularly is good for one's health in a number of ways. So, it would seem, that having an active sex life, be it for love or simply for pleasure, is a logical action, as it contributes to good health.

Viewed in this way, there were no logical reasons for Vulcans to abstain from sex for most of their lives nor to confine it strictly to reproduction. It would have not interfered with his devotion to logic, then, if Spock had had a sex life similar to Kirk's. He most certainly could have had a sex life without having a love life.


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