Masturbation Essay, Research Paper
They’re not blind. They don’t have hair on their palms. Even so, they still masturbate. Of all the topics that continually find themselves under attack, none seems to be restricted solely to quiet, taboo conversations as often as masturbation. For countless generations, this subject has been put down, looked down on, and kept behind closed doors, and no one is really sure why. “It’s immoral”, or “its dirty” are the best anyone has come up with. The latter is a matter of personal opinion, and does not necessarily represent the views of this writer, and the former is, in fact, incorrect. To see why, please, read on.
Morals and ethical principles have existed for literally thousands of years, right along with civilization itself. Unfortunately for those who knock masturbation, masturbation itself has been around for a hell of a lot longer. Even so, it has always been shunned by so many as immoral. Well, let’s see. Since the time of Socrates, there have been a great many ethical systems brought to the attention of the civilized world. Let’s run masturbation through some rigorous ethical tests, and see just how immoral it really is, ok?
Aristotle described “The Good” as that which all things in the universe strive to achieve. In humans, he found this good, a thing which is good in and of itself instead of just a means, to be happiness. Few will deny (mostly those who have never done it) that even for a few minutes, masturbation does in fact bring personal happiness. Masturbation causes pleasure causes happiness. Very simple. Epicurus, another great Greek, would have agreed wholeheartedly, letting the pleasure be its own reward. Epicurus believed in goodness as long term pleasure and long term absence of pain, both achieved through moderation of pleasures. Our two Greeks support masturbation.
Flash forward now to some more modern ethical theories. Several great schools of ethics have emerged and are still presently used. Of those, we shall examine some of the most notable ones: Utilitarianism, Divine Command Theory, and Immanuel Kant’s Catagorical Imperative. If anyone ever thinks of any others, let me know, and I’ll use them too (I don’t consider Subjectivism, Cultural Relativism, or Egoism as ethical theories).
For those who have not been exposed to it, Utilitarianism is simple: Do that which will cause the greatest good for the greatest number. In classical Utilitarianism, that good is happiness. In modern Utilitarianism, that good is restated as “usefulness”. Either way, masturbation is sitting safe. Lets look at masturbation for just a moment here. It both causes pleasure and releases stress and tension in both men and women. If there are two things this world could do with a lot less of, they are stress and tension. These two things kill directly through high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and indirectly through overbearing government officials taking their stress out on the populace. It also causes migranes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many other annoying disorders. Now, I don’t profess that masturbation will cure all these ills, but it does relieve stress, and can indirectly help relieve these kinds of stress-related problems as well. When you have less stress, you are healthier, happier, and more productive, which benefits society as a whole. Through release of stress and tension, masturbation serves to indirectly alleviate these problems, and therefore provide good for a great many people. Utilitarianism supports masturbation.
Next, we tackle the really big opponent of masturbation… Judeo-Christianity. Both parts, the Jews and the Christians, have been telling us for God knows how long that masturbation is bad, dirty, immoral, etc. “It is self-gratification,” they will tell you, “and self-gratification is bad… its against what the Bible tells us.” This is, in fact, the whole point of Divine Command Theory. This theory tells us that moral ethics come by command of God, and commands of God come from the Bible (or from Church leaders, if you are Catholic). I won’t go into the problems with this theory (find a book by a man named Rachels for a decent coverage of that), but I will instead assume its truth, as I did with Utilitarianism. The problem with the stance of these people who will argue the immorality of masturbation, is that nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Do not masturbate.” I will agree, self-gratification is spoken against in the Bible, but not put down as bad. It is only the over-indulgence of things that is looked down upon. Since masturbation is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, we can only go by the implicit command that over-indulgence is bad, and say that too much masturbation is bad, like drinking too much is bad. Keep it to a reasonable amount, and Divine Command Theory supports (or at least, doesn’t forbid) masturbation.
Last, but by no means least, is Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative. This is a fairly simple concept too. It states that an action is moral only if you would will that action into Universal Law. In simple terms, “Do unto others as you would have done to you.” Kant belived that you should look at an action and decide whether you would will that everyone in the world also do that action. If your action fails this test, meaning you would NOT wish everyone to do this, then it is not moral. On the other hand, if you can will this action be done universally, then it becomes a duty, that you can assume that you MUST do. It becomes an imperative. From earlier, we know that masturbation releases stress and tension. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m all for everyone in the world releasing stress and tension every once in a while, and the less violent the catharsis, the better. A little masturbation every once in a while would do the world good, so I personally will it to be universal law. The Categorical Imperative supports masturbation.
Masturbation has withstood the test. These theories, which have been the most influencial of recent times, all either support or do not expressly forbid masturbation. If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine, that’s your own personal preference. But next time someone tells you its “immoral”, you’ll be able to tell them otherwise. Thanks for listening, and have fun!