Immanuel Kant's Objectification Of Sexual Desire

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Sexual desire always objectifies: a common idea argued over by many esteemed philosophers. But is it true? If it is, then sexual desire of any sort would be morally wrong, along with sexual activity itself. For, if we objectify another person, we are viewing them as a mere means, going against Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, which states that we must “‘always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end’” (Mappes, 229). Sexual desire, however, does not always objectify, and is, therefore, not inherently morally wrong. Martha Nussbaum, in her article Objectification, discusses “seven ways to treat a person as a thing” (256) and lists instrumentality, …show more content…
In social media body parts such as breasts, butts, penises, hips, and lips are commonly referred to as objects of desire and are separated from the human beings themselves. As Kant expresses in his Lectures on Ethics, “[t]he desire which a man has for a woman is not directed towards her because she is a human being, but because she is a woman; that she is a human being is of no concern to the man; only her sex is the object of his desires” (par. 1) and this, in some way, sacrifices human nature to sex. The media sacrifices human nature when representing body parts in a sexual manner, because they are separating the part from the human, therefore objectifying the person by displaying their parts as things to be desired. Referencing Nussbaum’s list, this might be seen as denial of autonomy or denial of subjectivity, for one is viewing a part of a person as an entity in itself and using desire as their main action, rather than morality. Fungibility could also be present, as any of these parts are easily substituted. In other words, it does not matter who the penis belongs to; it will be desired, as long as it exists. Instrumentality is the most obvious in this example, but it is clear that many ways of treating a person as a thing can be active at once within a specific instance of sexual desire. Not all sexual desire; however, results in …show more content…
Sexual desire does, occasionally objectify, in cases such as reactions to media representations of body parts and in the ogling of another person in a public (or private) situation; however, this occasional objectification does not make sexual desire morally wrong. Although there exists at least seven ways to treat a person as a thing, and although we may benefit from treating all persons as both means and an end for the sake of our morality, not all objectification is negative and not all sexual desire reduces humans to only a means. Sexual desire can be mutual, respectful, and morally good, and objectification can be stimulating and exciting in certain situations. It all depends on

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