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Otto Weinenger's book Sex & Character
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|Subject: Otto Weinenger's book Sex & Character Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:29 pm|| |
THE MAIN PARTS OF
SEX & CHARACTER
Selected by Kevin Solway
from the 1906 English Edition
This book is an attempt to place the relations of Sex in a new and decisive light. It is an attempt not to collect the greatest possible number of distinguishing characters, or to arrange into a system all the results of scientific measuring and experiment, but to refer to a single principle the whole contrast between man and woman. In this respect the book differs from all other works on the same subject. It does not linger over this or that detail, but presses on to its ultimate goal; it does not heap investigation on investigation, but combines the psychical differences between the sexes into a system; it deals not with women, but with woman. It sets out, indeed, from the most common and obvious facts, but intends to reach a single, concrete principle. This is not "inductive metaphysics"; it is gradual approach to the heart of psychology.
The investigation is not of details, but of principles; it does not despise the laboratory, although the help of the laboratory, with regard to the deeper problems, is limited as compared with the results of introspective analysis. The artist does not despise experimental results; on the contrary, he regards it as a duty to gain experience; but for him the collection of experimental knowledge is merely a starting-point for self- exploration, and in art self-exploration is exploration of the world.
The psychology used in this exposition is purely philosophical, although its characteristic method, justified by the subject, is to set out from the most trivial details of experience. The task of the philosopher differs from that of the artist in one important respect. The one deals in symbols, the other in ideas. Art and philosophy stand to one another as expression to meaning. The artist has breathed in the world to breathe it out again; the philosopher has the world outside him and he has to absorb it.
There is always something pretentious in theory; and the real meaning - which in a work of art is Nature herself and in a philosophical system is a much condensed generalisation, a thesis going to the root of the matter and proving itself - appears to strike against us harshly, almost offensively. Where my exposition is anti-feminine, and that is nearly everywhere, men themselves will receive it with little heartiness or conviction; their sexual egoism makes them prefer to see woman as they would like to have her, as they would like her to be.
I need not say that I am prepared for the answer women will have to the judgment I have passed on their sex. My investigation, indeed, turns against man in the end, and although in a deeper sense than the advocates of women's rights could anticipate, assigns to man the heaviest and most real blame. But this will help me little and is of such a nature that it cannot in the smallest way rehabilitate me in the minds of women.
The analysis, however, goes further than the assignment of blame; it rises beyond simple and superficial phenomena to heights from which there opens not only a view into the nature of woman and its meaning in the universe, but also the relation to mankind and to the ultimate and most lofty problems. A definite relation to the problem of Culture is attained, and we reach the part to be played by woman in the sphere of ideal aims. There, also, where the problems of Culture and of Mankind coincide, I try not merely to explain but to assign values, for, indeed, in that region explanation and valuation are identical.
To such a wide outlook my investigation was as it were driven, not deliberately steered, from the outset. The inadequacy of all empirical psychological philosophy follows directly from empirical psychology itself. The respect for empirical knowledge will not be injured, but rather will the meaning of such knowledge be deepened, if man recognises in phenomena, and it is from phenomena that he sets out, any elements assuring him that there is something behind phenomena, if he espies the signs that prove the existence of something higher than phenomena, something that supports phenomena. We may be assured of such a first principle, although no living man can reach it. Towards such a principle this book presses and will not flag.
Within the narrow limits to which as yet the problem of woman and of woman's rights has been confined, there has been no place for the venture to reach so high a goal. None the less the problem is bound intimately with the deepest riddles of existence. It can be solved, practically or theoretically, morally or metaphysically, only in relation to an interpretation of the cosmos.
Comprehension of the universe, or what passes for such, stands in no opposition to knowledge of details; on the other hand all special knowledge acquires a deeper meaning because of it. Comprehension of the universe is self-creative; it cannot arise, although the empirical knowledge of every age expects it, as a synthesis of however great a sum of empirical knowledge.
In this book there lie only the germs of a world-scheme, and these are allied most closely with the conceptions of Plato, Kant, and Christianity. I have been compelled for the most part to fashion for myself the scientific, psychological, philosophical, logical, ethical groundwork. I think that at the least I have laid the foundations of many things into which I could not go fully. I call special attention to the defects of this part of my work because I attach more importance to appreciation of what I have tried to say about the deepest and most general problems than to the interest which will certainly be aroused by my special investigation of the problem of woman.
The philosophical reader may take it amiss to find a treatment of the loftiest and ultimate problems coinciding with the investigation of a special problem of no great dignity; I share with him this distaste. I may say, however, that I have treated throughout the contrast between the sexes as the starting-point rather than the goal of my research. The investigation has yielded a harvest rich in its bearing on the fundamental problems of logic and their relations to the axioms of thought, on the theory of aesthetics, of love, and of the beautiful and the good, and on problems such as individuality and morality and their relations, on the phenomena of genius, the craving for immortality, and Hebraism. Naturally these comprehensive interrelations aid this special problem, for, as it is considered from so many points of view, its scope enlarges. And if in this wider sense it be proved that culture can give only the smallest hope for the nature of woman, if the final results are a depreciation, even a negation of womanhood, there will be no attempt in this to destroy what exists, to humble what has a value of its own. Horror of my own deed would overtake me were I here only destructive and had I left only a clean sheet. Perhaps the affirmations in my book are less articulate, but he that has ears to hear will hear them.
This treatise falls into two parts, the first biological- psychological, the second logical-philosophical. It may be objected that I should have done better to make two books, the one treating of purely physical science, the other introspective. It was necessary to be done with biology before turning to psychology. The second part treats of certain psychical problems in a fashion totally different from the method of any contemporary naturalist, and for that reason I think that the removal of the first part of the book would have been at some risk to many readers. Moreover, the first part of the book challenges an attention and criticism from natural science, possible in a few places only in the second part, which is chiefly introspective. Because the second part starts from a conception of the universe that is anti-positivistic, many will think it unscientific (although there is given a strong proof against Positivism). For the present I must be content with the conviction that I have rendered its due to Biology, and that I have established an enduring position for non-biological, non- physiological psychology.
My investigation may be objected to as in certain points not being supported by enough proof, but I see little force in such an objection. For in these matters what can "proof" mean? I am not dealing with mathematics or with the theory of cognition (except with the latter in two cases); I am dealing with empirical knowledge, and in that one can do no more than point to what exists; in this region proof means no more than the agreement of new experience with old experience, and it is much the same whether the new phenomena have been produced experimentally by men, or have come straight from the creative hand of nature. Of such latter proofs my book contains many.
Finally, I should like to say that my book, if I may be allowed to judge it, is for the most part not of a quality to be understood and absorbed at the first glance. I point out this myself, to guide and protect the reader.
The less I found myself able in both parts of the book (and especially in the second) to confirm what now passes for knowledge, the more anxious I have been to point out coincidences where I found myself in agreement with what has already been known and said.
FIRST OR PREPARATORY PART
All thought begins with conceptions to a certain extent generalised, and thence is developed in two directions. On the one hand, generalisations become wider and wider, binding together by common properties a larger and larger number of phenomena, and so embracing a wider field of the world of facts. On the other hand, thought approaches more closely the meeting- point of all conceptions, the individual, the concrete complex unit towards which we approach only by thinking in an ever- narrowing circle, and by continually being able to add new specific and differentiating attributes to the general idea, "thing," or "something." It was known that fishes formed a class of the animal kingdom distinct from mammals, birds, or invertebrates, long before it was recognised on the one hand that fishes might be bony or cartilaginous, or on the other that fishes, birds and mammals composed a group differing from the invertebrates by many common characters.
The self-assertion of the mind over the world of facts in all its complexity of innumerable resemblances and differences has been compared with the rule of the struggle for existence among living beings. Our conceptions stand between us and reality. It is only step by step that we can control them. As in the case of a madman, we may first have to throw a net over the whole body so that some limit may be set to his struggles; and only after the whole has been thus secured, is it possible to attend to the proper restraint of each limb.
Two general conceptions have come down to us from primitive mankind, and from the earliest times have held our mental processes in their leash. Many a time these conceptions have undergone trivial corrections; they have been sent to the workshop and patched in head and limbs; they have been lopped and added to, expanded here, contracted there, as when new needs pierce through and through an old law of suffrage, bursting bond after bond. None the less, in spite of all amendment and alteration, we have still to reckon with the primitive conceptions, male and female.
It is true that among those we call women are some who are meagre, narrow-hipped, angular, muscular, energetic, highly mentalised; there are "women" with short hair and deep voices, just as there are "men" who are beardless and gossiping. We know, in fact, that there are unwomanly women, man-like women, and unmanly, womanish, woman-like men. We assign sex to human beings from their birth on one character only, and so come to add contradictory ideas to our conceptions. Such a course is illogical.
In private conversation or in society, in scientific or general meetings, we have all taken part in frothy discussions on "Man and Woman," or on the "Emancipation of Women." There is a pitiful monotony in the fashion according to which, on such occasions, "men" and "women" have been treated as if, like red and white balls, they were alike in all respects save colour. In no case has the discussion been confined to an individual case, and as every one had different individuals in their mind, a real agreement was impossible. As people meant differing things by the same words, there was a complete disharmony between language and ideas. Is it really the case that all women and men are marked off sharply from each other, the women, on the one hand, alike in all points, the men on the other? It is certainly the case that all previous treatment of the sexual differences, perhaps unconsciously, has implied this view. And yet nowhere else in nature is there such a yawning discontinuity. There are transitional forms between the metals and non-metals, between chemical combinations and mixtures, between animals and plants, between phanerogams and cryptogams, and between reptiles and birds. It is only in obedience to the most general, practical demand for a superficial view that we classify, make sharp divisions, pick out a single tune from the continuous melody of nature. But the old conceptions of the mind, like the customs of primitive commerce, become foolish in a new age. From the analogies I have given, the improbability may henceforward be taken for granted of finding in nature a sharp cleavage between all that is masculine on the one side and all that is feminine on the other; or that a living being is so simple in this respect that it can be put wholly on one side or the other of the line. Matters are not so clear.
In the controversy as to the woman question, appeal has been made to the arbitration of anatomy, in the hope that by that aid a line could be drawn between those characters of males or females that are unalterable because inborn, and those that are acquired. (It was a strange adventure to attempt to decide the differences between the natural endowment of men and women on anatomical results; to suppose that if all other investigation failed to establish the difference, the matter could be settled by a few more grains of brain-weight on the one side.) However, the answer of the anatomists is clear enough; whether it refer to the brain or to any other portion of the body; absolute sexual distinctions between all men on the one side and all women on the other do not exist. Although the skeleton of the hand of most men is different from that of most women, yet the sex cannot be determined with certainty either from the skeleton or from an isolated part with its muscles, tendons, skin, blood and nerves. The same is true of the chest, sacrum or skull. And what are we to say of the pelvis, that part of the skeleton in which, if anywhere, striking sexual differences exist? It is almost universally believed that in the one case the pelvis is adapted for the act of parturition, in the other case is not so adapted. And yet the character of the pelvis cannot be taken as an absolute criterion of sex. There are to be found, and the wayfarer knows this as well as the anatomist, many women with narrow male-like pelves, and many men with the broad pelves of women. Are we then to make nothing of sexual differences? That would imply, almost, that we could not distinguish between men and women.
From what quarter are we to seek help in our problem? The old doctrine is insufficient, and yet we cannot make shift without it. If the received ideas do not suffice, it must be our task to seek out new and better guides.
"Males" and "Females"
In the widest treatment of most living things, a blunt separation of them into males and females no longer suffices for the known facts. The limitations of these conceptions have been felt more or less by many writers. The first purpose of this work is to make this point clear.
I agree with other authors who, in a recent treatment of the facts connected with this subject, have taken as a starting- point what has been established by embryology regarding the existence in human beings, plants, and animals of an embryonic stage neutral as regards sex.
In the case of a human embryo of less than five weeks, for instance, the sex to which it would afterwards belong cannot be recognised. In the fifth week of foetal life processes begin which, by the end of the fifth month of pregnancy, have turned the genital rudiments, at first alike in the sexes, into one sex and have determined the sex of the whole organism. The details of these processes need not be described more fully here. It can be shown that however distinctly unisexual an adult plant, animal or human being may be, there is always a certain persistence of the bisexual character, never a complete disappearance of the characters of the undeveloped sex. Sexual differentiation, in fact, is never complete. All the peculiarities of the male sex may be present in the female in some form, however weakly developed; and so also the sexual characteristics of the woman persist in the man, although perhaps they are not so completely rudimentary. The characters of the other sex occur in the one sex in a vestigial form. Thus, in the case of human beings, in which our interest is greatest, to take an example, it will be found that the most womanly woman has a growth of colourless hair, known as "lanugo" in the position of the male beard; and in the most manly man there are developed under the skin of the breast, masses of glandular tissue connected with the nipples. This condition of things has been minutely investigated in the true genital organs and ducts, the region called the "urino-genital tract," and in each sex there has been found a complete but rudimentary set of parallels to the organs of the other sex.
. . . The fact is that males and females are like two substances combined in different proportions, but with either element never wholly missing. We find, so to speak, never either a man or a woman, but only the male condition and the female condition. Any individual is never to be designated merely as a man or a woman, but by a formula showing that it is a composite of male and female characters in different proportions.
. . . The absolute conditions at the two extremes are not metaphysical abstractions above or outside the world of experience, but their construction is necessary as a philosophical and practical mode of describing the actual world.
A presentiment of this bisexuality of life (derived from the actual absence of complete sexual differentiation) is very old. Traces of it may be found in Chinese myths, but it became active in Greek thought. We may recall the mythical personification of bisexuality in the Hermaphroditos, the narrative of Aristophanes in the Platonic dialogue, or in later times the suggestion of a Gnostic sect (Theophites) that primitive man was a "man-woman."
Male and Female Plasmas
The first thing expected of a book like this, the avowed object of which is a complete revision of the facts hitherto accepted, is that it should expound a new and satisfactory account of the anatomical and physiological characters of the sexual types.
. . . Those who know little of Biology may scan this section hastily, and yet run little risk of failing to understand what follows.
. . . Many phenomena, amongst which may be noticed specially experiments on the regeneration of lost parts and investigations into the chemical differences between the corresponding tissues of nearly allied animals, have led the investigators to conceive the existence of "Idioplasm," which is the bearer of the specific characters, and which exists in all the cells of a multi-cellular animal, quite apart from the purposes of reproduction. In a similar fashion I have been led to the conception of an "Arrhenoplasm" (male plasm) and a "Thelyplasm" (female plasm) as the two modes in which the idioplasm of every bisexual organism may appear, and which are to be considered, because of reasons which I shall explain, as ideal conditions between which the actual conditions always lie. . . . I apologise for the new terms, but they are more than devices to call attention to a new idea.
. . . Investigations into the sex-differences in the weight of the brain, have proved very little, probably because no care was taken to choose typical conditions, the assignment of sex being dependent on baptismal certificates or on superficial glances at outward appearance. As if every "John" or "Mary" were representative of their sexes because they had been dubbed "male" and "female!" It would have been well, even if exact physiological data were thought unnecessary, at least to make certain as to a few facts as to the general condition of the body, which might serve as guides to the male or female condition. . . .
This source of error, the careless acceptance of sexually intermediate forms as representative subjects for measurement, has maimed other investigations and seriously retarded the attainment of genuine and useful results. . . . Until the exact degree of maleness or femaleness of all the living individuals of the group on which an investigator is working can be determined, the investigator will have reason to distrust both his methods and his hypotheses. If he classify sexually intermediate forms, for instance, according to their external appearance, as has been done hitherto, he will come across cases which fuller investigation would show to be on the wrong side of his results, whilst other instances, apparently on the wrong side, would right themselves. Without the conception of an ideal male and an ideal female, he lacks a standard according to which to estimate his real cases, and he gropes forward to a superficial and doubtful conclusion. . . .
The Laws of Sexual Attraction
It has been recognised from time immemorial that, in all forms of sexually differentiated life, there exists an attraction between males and females, between the male and the female, the object of which is procreation. But as the male and the female are merely abstract conceptions which never appear in the real world, we cannot speak of sexual attraction as a simple attempt of the masculine and the feminine to come together. The theory which I am developing must take into account all the facts of sexual relations if it is to be complete; indeed, if it is to be accepted instead of the older views, it must give a better interpretation of all these sexual phenomena. My recognition of the fact that maleness and femaleness are distributed in the living world in every possible proportion has led me to the discovery of an unknown natural law, of a law not yet suspected by any philosopher, a law of sexual attraction. As observations on human beings first led me to my results, I shall begin with this side of the subject.
Every one possesses a definite, individual taste of his own with regard to the other sex. If we compare the portrait of the women which some famous man has been known to love, we shall nearly always find that they are all closely alike, the similarity being most obvious in the contour (more precisely in the "figure") or in the face, but on closer examination being found to extend to the minutest details, ad unguem, to the finger-tips. It is precisely the same with every one else. So, also, every girl who strongly attracts a man recalls to him the other girls he has loved before. We see another side of the same phenomenon when we recall how often we have said of some acquaintance or another, "I can't imagine how that type of woman pleases him." Darwin, in the "Descent of Man," collected many instances of the existence of this individuality of the sexual taste amongst animals, and I shall be able to show that there are analogous phenomena even amongst plants.
Sexual attraction is nearly always, as in the case of gravitation, reciprocal. Where there appear to be exceptions to this rule, there is nearly always evidence of the presence of special influences which have been capable of preventing the direct action of the special taste, which is almost always reciprocal, or which have left an unsatisfied craving, if the direct taste were not allowed its play.
The common saying, "Waiting for Mr. Right," or statements such that "So-and-so are quite unsuitable for one another," show the existence of an obscure presentiment of the fact that every man or woman possesses certain individual peculiarities which qualify or disqualify him or her for marriage with any particular member of the opposite sex; and that this man cannot be substituted for that, or this woman for the other without creating a disharmony.
It is a common personal experience that certain individuals of the opposite sex are distasteful to us, that others leave us cold; whilst others again may stimulate us until, at last, some one appears who seems so desirable that everything in the world is worthless and empty compared with union with such a one. What are the qualifications of that person? What are his or her peculiarities? If it really be the case - and I think it is - that every male type has its female counterpart with regard to sexual affinity, it looks as if there were some definite law. What is this law? How does it act? "Like poles repel, unlike attract," was what I was told when, already armed with my own answer, I resolutely importuned different kinds of men for a statement, and submitted instances to their power of generalisation. The formula, no doubt, is true in a limited sense and for a certain number of cases. But it is at once too general and too vague; it would be applied differently by different persons, and it is incapable of being stated in mathematical terms.
This book does not claim to state all the laws of sexual affinity, for there are many; nor does it pretend to be able to tell every one exactly which individual of the opposite sex will best suit his taste, for that would imply a complete knowledge of all the laws in question. In this chapter only one of these laws will be considered - the law which stands in organic relation to the rest of the book. I am working at a number of other laws, but the following is that to which I have given most investigation, and which is most elaborated. In criticising this work, allowance must be made for the incomplete nature of the material consequent on the novelty and difficulty of the subject.
. . . The law runs as follows: "For true sexual union it is necessary that there come together a complete male (M) and a complete female (F), even although in different cases the M and F are distributed between the two individuals in different proportions."
Were a man completely male, his requisite complement would be a complete female, and vice versa. If, however, he is composed of a definite inheritance of maleness, and also an inheritance of femaleness (which must not be neglected), then, to complete the individual, his maleness must be completed to make a unit; but so also must his femaleness be completed.
If, for instance an individual was three-quarters male and one quarter female, then the best sexual complement of that individual would be a person one quarter male and three-quarters female.
. . . In this matter we may neglect altogether the so-called aesthetic factor, the stimulus of beauty. For does it not frequently happen that one man is completely captivated by a particular woman and raves about her beauty, whilst another, who is not the sexual complement of the woman in question, cannot imagine what his friend sees in her to admire. Without discussing the laws of aesthetics or attempting to gather together examples of relative values, it may readily be admitted that a man may consider a woman beautiful who, from the aesthetic standpoint, is not merely indifferent but actually ugly, that in fact pure aesthetics deal not with absolute, but merely with conceptions of beauty from which the sexual factor has been eliminated.
I have myself worked out the law in, at the lowest, many hundred cases, and I have found that the exceptions were only apparent. Almost every couple one meets in the street furnishes a new proof. The exceptions were specially instructive, as they not only suggested but led to the investigation of other laws of sexuality. I myself made special investigations in the following way. I obtained a set of photographs of aesthetically beautiful women of blameless character, each of which was a good example of some definite proportion of femininity, and I asked a number of my friends to inspect these and select the most beautiful. The selection made was invariably that which I had predicted. With other male friends, who knew on what I was engaged, I set about in another fashion. They provided me with photographs from amongst which I was to choose the one I should expect them to think most beautiful. Here, too, I was uniformly successful. With others, I was able to describe most accurately their ideal of the opposite sex, independently of any suggestions unconsciously given by them, often in minuter detail than they had realised. Sometimes, too, I was able to point out to them, for the first time, the qualities that repelled them in individuals of the opposite sex, although for the most part men realise more readily the characters that repel them than the characters that attract them.
I believe that with a little practice any one could readily acquire and exercise this art on any circle of friends.
. . . I do not deny that my exposition of the law is somewhat dogmatical and lacks confirmation by exact detail. But I am not so anxious to claim finished results as to incite others to the study, the more so as the means for scientific investigations are lacking in my own case. But even if much remains theoretical, I hope that I shall have firmly riveted the chief beams in my edifice of theory by showing how it explains much that hitherto has found no explanation, and so shall have, in a fashion, proved it retrospectively by showing how much it would explain if it were true. . . .
Homosexuality and Pederasty
The law of Sexual Attraction gives the long-sought-for explanation of sexual inversion, of sexual inclination towards members of the same sex, whether or no that be accompanied by aversion from members of the opposite sex.
. . . The men who are sexually attracted by men have outward marks of effeminacy, just as women of a similar disposition to those of their own sex exhibit male characters. That this should be so is quite intelligible if we admit the close parallelism between body and mind, and further light is thrown upon it by the facts explained in the second chapter of this book; the facts as to the male or female principle not being uniformly present all over the same body, but distributed in different amounts in different organs. In all cases of sexual inversion, there is invariably an anatomical approximation to the opposite sex.
Such a view is directly opposed to that of those who would maintain that sexual inversion is an acquired character, and one that has superseded normal sexual impulses.
. . . That the rudiment of homosexuality, in however weak a form, exists in every human being, corresponding to the greater or smaller development of the characters of the opposite sex, is proved conclusively from the fact that in the adolescent stage, while there is still a considerable amount of undifferentiated sexuality, and before the internal secretions have exerted their stimulating force, passionate attachments with a sensual side are the rule amongst boys as well as amongst girls.
. . . There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it, however little accentuated it may be in the nature of the friendship, and however painful the idea of the sexual element would be. But it is enough to remember that there can be no friendship unless there has been some attraction to draw the men together. Much of the affection, protection, and nepotism between men is due to the presence of unsuspected sexual compatibility.
. . . Homosexuality has been observed amongst animals to a considerable extent. F. Karsch has made a wide, if not complete, compilation from other authors. Unfortunately, practically no observations were made as to the grades of maleness or femaleness to be observed in such cases. But we may be reasonably certain that the law holds good in the animal world. If bulls are kept apart from cows for a considerable time, homosexual acts occur amongst them; the most female being first sought, the others later, some perhaps never. (It is amongst cattle that the greatest number of sexually intermediate forms have been recorded.) This shows that the tendency was latent in them, but that at other times the sexual demand was satisfied in normal fashion. Cattle in captivity behave precisely as prisoners and convicts in these matters. Animals exhibit not merely onanism (which is known to them as to human beings), but also homosexuality; and this fact, together with the fact that sexually intermediate forms are known to occur amongst them, I regard as strong evidence for my law of sexual attraction.
Inverted sexual attraction, then, is no exception to my law of sexual attraction, but is merely a special case of it. An individual who is half-man, half-woman, requires as sexual complement a being similarly equipped with a share of both sexes in order to fulfil the requirements of the law. This explains the fact that sexual inverts usually associate only with persons of similar character, and rarely admit to intimacy those who are normal. The sexual attraction is mutual, and this explains why sexual inverts so readily recognise each other.
. . . In spite of all the present-day clamour about the existence of different rights for different individualities, there is only one law that governs mankind, just as there is only one logic and not several logics.
. . . My theory appears to me quite incontrovertible and conclusive, and to afford a complete explanation of the entire set of phenomena. The exposition, however, must now face a set of facts which appear quite opposed to it, and which seem absolutely to contradict my reference of sexual inversion to the existence of sexually intermediate types, and my explanation of the law governing the attraction of these types for each other. It is probably the case that my explanation is sufficient for all female sexual inverts, but it is certainly true that there are men with very little taint of femaleness about them who yet exert a very strong influence on members of their own sex, a stronger influence than that of other men who may have more femaleness - an influence which can be exerted even on very male men, and an influence which, finally, often appears to be much greater than the influence any woman can exert on these men. Albert Moll is justified in saying as follows: "There exist psycho-sexual hermaphrodites who are attracted to members of both sexes, but who in the case of each sex appear to care only for the characters peculiar to that sex; and, on the other hand, there are also psychosexual (?) hermaphrodites who, in the case of each sex, are attracted, not by the characteristics peculiar to that sex, but by those which are either sexually indifferent or even antagonistic to the sex in question." Upon this distinction depends the difference between the two sets of phenomena indicated in the title of this chapter - Homosexuality and Pederasty. The distinction may be expressed as follows: The homosexualist is that type of sexual invert who prefers very female men or very male women, in accordance with the general law of sexual attraction. The pederast, on the other hand, may be attracted either by very male men or by very female women, but in the latter case only in so far as he is not pederastic. Moreover, his inclination for the male sex is stronger than for the female sex, and is more deeply seated in his nature. The origin of pederasty is a problem in itself and remains unsolved by this investigation.
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|Subject: Re: Otto Weinenger's book Sex & Character Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:29 pm|| |
The Science of Character and the Science of Form
In view of the admitted close correspondence between matter and mind, we may expect to find that the conception of sexually intermediate forms, if applied to mental facts, will yield a rich crop of results. The existence of a female mental type and a male mental type can readily be imagined (and the quest of these types has been made by many investigators), but such perfect types never occur as actual individuals, simply because in the mind, as in the body, all sorts of sexually intermediate conditions exist. My conception will also be of great service in helping us to discriminate between the different mental qualities, and to throw some light into what has always been a dark corner for psychologists - the differences between different individuals. A great step will be made if we are able to supply graded categories for the mental diathesis of individuals; if it shall cease to be scientific to say that the character of an individual is merely male or female; but if we can make a measured judgment and say that such and such an one is so many parts male and so many parts female. Which element in any particular individual has done, said, or thought this or the other? By making the answer to such a question possible, we shall have done much towards the definite description of the individual, and the new method will determine the direction of future investigation. The knowledge of the past, which sets out from the conceptions which were really confused averages, has been equally far from reaching the broadest truths as from searching out the most intimate, detailed knowledge. This failure of past methods gives us hope that the principle of sexually intermediate forms may serve as the foundation of a scientific study of character and justifies the attempt to make of it an illuminating principle for the psychology of individual differences. Its application to the science of character, which, so far, has been in the hands of merely literary authors, and is from the scientific point of view an untouched field, is to be greeted more warmly as it is capable of being used quantitatively, so that we venture to estimate the percentage of maleness and femaleness which an individual possesses even in the mental qualities. The answer to this question is not given even if we know the exact anatomical position of an organism on the scale stretching from male to female, although as a matter of fact congruity between bodily and mental sexuality is more common than incongruity. But we must remember what was stated in chap. ii. as to the uneven distribution of sexuality over the body.
The proportion of the male to the female principle in the same human being must not be assumed to be a constant quantity. An important new conclusion must be taken into account, a conclusion which is necessary to the right application of the principle which clears up in a striking fashion earlier psychological work. The fact is that every human being varies or oscillates between the maleness and the femaleness of his constitution. In some cases these oscillations are abnormally large, in other cases so small as to escape observation, but they are always present, and when they are great they may even reveal themselves in the outward aspect of the body. Like the variations in the magnetism of the earth, these sexual oscillations are either regular or irregular. The regular forms are sometimes minute; for instance, many men feel more male at night. The large and regular oscillations correspond to the great divisions of organic life to which attention is only now being directed, and they may throw light upon many puzzling phenomena. The irregular oscillations probably depend chiefly upon the environment, as for instance on the sexuality of surrounding human beings. They may help to explain some curious points in the psychology of a crowd which have not yet received sufficient attention.
In short, bi-sexuality cannot be properly observed in a single moment, but must be studied through successive periods of time. This time-element in psychological differences of sexuality may be regularly periodic or not. The swing towards one pole of sexuality may be greater than the following swing to the other side. Although theoretically possible, it seems to be extremely rare for the swing to the male side to be exactly equal to the swing towards the female side.
. . . In the first or biological part of my work, I give little attention to the extreme types, but devote myself to the fullest investigation of the intermediate stages. In the second part, I shall endeavour to make as full a psychological analysis as possible of the characters of the male and female types, and will touch only lightly on concrete instances.
I shall first mention, without laying too much stress on them, some of the more obvious mental characteristics of the intermediate conditions.
Womanish men are usually extremely anxious to marry, at least (I mention this to prevent misconception) if a sufficiently brilliant opportunity offers itself. When it is possible, they nearly always marry whilst they are still quite young. It is especially gratifying to them to get as wives famous women, artists or poets, or singers and actresses.
Womanish men are physically lazier than other men in proportion to the degree of their womanishness. There are "men" who go out walking with the sole object of displaying their faces like the faces of women, hoping that they will be admired, after which they return contentedly home. The ancient "Narcissus" was a prototype of such persons. These people are naturally fastidious about the dressing of their hair, their apparel, shoes, and linen; they are concerned as to their personal appearance at all times, and about the minutest details of their toilet. They are conscious of every glance thrown on them by other men, and because of the female element in them, they are coquettish in gait and demeanour. Viragoes, on the other hand, frequently are careless about their toilet, and even about the personal care of their bodies; they take less time in dressing than many womanish men. The dandyism of men on the one hand, and much of what is called the emancipation of women, are due to the increase in the numbers of these epicene creatures, and not merely to a passing fashion.
Indeed, if one inquires why anything becomes the fashion it will be found that there is a true cause for it.
The more femaleness a woman possesses the less will she understand a man, and the sexual characters of a man will have the greater influence on her. This is more than a mere application of the law of sexual attraction, as I have already stated it. So also the more manly a man is the less will he understand women, but the more readily be influenced by them as women. Those men who claim to understand women are themselves very nearly women. Womanish men often know how to treat women much better than manly men. Manly men, except in most rare cases, learn how to deal with women only after long experience, and even then most imperfectly.
Although I have been touching here in a most superficial way on what are no more than tertiary sexual characters, I wish to point out an application of my conclusions to pedagogy. I am convinced that the more these views are understood the more certainly will they lead to an individual treatment in education. At the present time shoe-makers, who make shoes to measure, deal more rationally with individuals than our teachers and schoolmasters in their application of moral principles. At present the sexually intermediate forms of individuals (especially on the female side) are treated exactly as if they were good examples of the ideal male or female types. There is wanted an "orthopaedic" treatment of the soul instead of the torture caused by the application of ready-made conventional shapes. The present system stamps out much that is original, uproots much that is truly natural, and distorts much into artificial and unnatural forms.
From time immemorial there have been only two systems of education; one for those who come into the world designated by one set of characters as males, and another for those who are similarly assumed to be females. Almost at once the "boys" and the "girls" are dressed differently, learn to play different games, go through different courses of instruction, the girls being put to stitching and so forth. The intermediate individuals are placed at a great disadvantage. And yet the instincts natural to their condition reveal themselves quickly enough, often even before puberty. There are boys who like to play with dolls, who learn to knit and sew with their sisters, and who are pleased to be given girls' names. There are girls who delight in the noisier sports of their brothers, and who make chums and playmates of them. After puberty, there is a still stronger display of the innate differences. Manlike women wear their hair short, affect manly dress, study, drink, smoke, are fond of mountaineering, or devote themselves passionately to sport. Womanish men grow their hair long, wear corsets, are experts in the toilet devices of women, and show the greatest readiness to become friendly and intimate with them, preferring their society to that of men.
Later on, the different laws and customs to which the so-called sexes are subjected press them as by a vice into distinctive moulds. The proposals which should follow from my conclusions will encounter more passive resistance, I fear, in the case of girls than in that of boys. I must here contradict, in the most positive fashion, a dogma that is authoritatively and widely maintained at the present time, the idea that all women are alike, that no individuals exist amongst women. It is true that amongst those individuals whose constitutions lie nearer the female side than the male side, the differences and possibilities are not so great as amongst those on the male side; the greater variability of males is true not only for the human race but for the living world, and is related to the principles established by Darwin. None the less, there are plenty of differences amongst women. The psychological origin of this common error depends chiefly on a fact that I explained in chap. iii., the fact that every man in his life becomes intimate only with a group of women defined by his own constitution, and so naturally he finds them much alike. For the same reason, and in the same way, one may often hear a woman say that all men are alike. And the narrow uniform view about men, displayed by most of the leaders of the women's rights movement depends on precisely the same cause.
It is clear that the principle of the existence of innumerable individual proportions of the male and female principles is a basis of the study of character which must be applied in any rational scheme of pedagogy.
. . . It will be long before official science ceases to regard the study of physiognomy as illegitimate. Although people will still believe in the parallelism of mind and body, they will continue to treat the physiognomist as as much of a charlatan as until quite recently the hypnotist was thought to be. None the less, all mankind at least unconsciously, and intelligent persons consciously, will continue to be physiognomists, people will continue to judge character from the nose, although they will not admit the existence of a science of physiognomy, and the portraits of celebrated men and of murderers will continue to interest every one. . . .
As an immediate application of the attempt to establish the principle of intermediate sexual forms by means of a differential psychology, we must now come to the question which it is the special object of this book to answer, theoretically and practically, I mean the woman question; theoretically so far as it is not a matter of ethnology and national economics, and practically in so far as it is not merely a matter of law and domestic economy, that is to say, of social science in the widest sense. The answer which this chapter is about to give must not be considered as final or as exhaustive. It is rather a necessary preliminary investigation, and does not go beyond deductions from the principles that I have established. It will deal with the exploration of individual cases and will not attempt to found on these any laws of general significance. The practical indications that it will give are not moral maxims that could or would guide the future; they are no more than technical rules abstracted from past cases. The idea of male and female types will not be discussed here; that is reserved for the second part of my book. This preliminary investigation will deal with only those characterological conclusions from the principle of sexually intermediate forms that are of significance in the woman question.
The general direction of the investigation is easy to understand from what has already been stated. A woman's demand for emancipation and her qualification for it are in direct proportion to the amount of maleness in her. The idea of emancipation, however, is many-sided, and its indefiniteness is increased by its association with many practical customs which have nothing to do with the theory of emancipation. By the term emancipation of a woman, I imply neither her mastery at home nor her subjection of her husband. I have not in mind the courage which enables her to go freely by night or by day unaccompanied in public places, or the disregard of social rules which prohibit bachelor women from receiving visits from men, or discussing or listening to discussions of sexual matters. I exclude from my view the desire for economic independence, the becoming fit for positions in technical schools, universities and conservatories or teachers' institutes. And there may be many other similar movements associated with the word emancipation which I do not intend to deal with. Emancipation, as I mean to discuss it, is not the wish for an outward equality with man, but what is of real importance in the woman question, the deep-seated craving to acquire man's character, to attain his mental and moral freedom, to reach his real interests and his creative power. I maintain that the real female element has neither the desire nor the capacity for emancipation in this sense. All those who are striving for this real emancipation, all women who are truly famous and are of conspicuous mental ability, to the first glance of an expert reveal some of the anatomical characters of the male, some external bodily resemblance to a man. Those so-called "women" who have been held up to admiration in the past and present, by the advocates of woman's rights, as examples of what women can do, have almost invariably been what I have described as sexually intermediate forms. . . .
I might refer many emancipated women at present well known to the public, consideration of whom has provided me with much material for the support of my proposition that the true female element, the abstract "woman," has nothing to do with emancipation. There is some historical justification for the saying "the longer the hair the smaller the brain," but the reservations made in chap.ii. must be taken into account.
It is only the male element in emancipated women that craves for emancipation.
There is then, a stronger reason than has generally been supposed for the familiar assumption of male pseudonyms by women writers. Their choice is a mode of giving expression to the inherent maleness they feel; and this is still more marked in the case of those who, like George Sand, have a preference for male attire and masculine pursuits. The motive for choosing a man's name springs from the feeling that it corresponds with their own character much more than from any desire for increased notice from the public. As a matter of fact, up to the present, partly owing to interest in the sex question, women's writings have aroused more interest, ceteris paribus, than those of men; and, owing to the issues involved, have always received a fuller consideration and, if there were any justification, a greater meed of praise than has been accorded to a man's work of equal merit. At the present time especially many women have attained celebrity by work which, if it had been produced by a man, would have passed almost unnoticed. Let us pause and examine this more closely.
If we attempt to apply a standard taken from the names of men who are of acknowledged value in philosophy, science, literature and art, to the long list of women who have achieved some kind of fame, there will at once be a miserable collapse. Judged in this way, it is difficult to grant any real degree of merit to women like Angelica Kaufmann, or Madame Lebrun, Fernan Caballero or Hroswitha von Gandersheim, Mary Somerville or George Egerton, Elizabeth Barret Browning or Sophie Germain, Anna Maria Schurmann or Sybilla Merian. I will not speak of names (such as that of Droste-Hulshoff) formerly so over-rated in the annals of feminism, nor will I refer to the measure of fame claimed for or by living women. It is enough to make the general statement that there is not a single woman in the history of thought, not even the most manlike, who can be truthfully compared with men of fifth or sixth-rate genius, for instance with Ruckert as a poet, Van Dyck as a painter, or Scheirmacher as a philosopher. If we eliminate hysterical visionaries (Hysteria is the principal cause of much of the intellectual activity of many of the women now mentioned. But the usual view, that these cases are pathological, is too limited an interpretation, as I shall show in the second part of this work), such as Sybils, the Priestesses of Delphi, Bourignon, Kettenberg, Jeanna de la Mothe Guyon, Joanna Southcote, Beate Sturmin, St. Teresa, there still remain cases like that of Marie Bashkirtseff. So far as I can remember from her portrait, she at least seemed to be quite womanly in face and figure, although her forehead was rather masculine. But to any one who studies her pictures in the Salle des Etrangers in the Luxemburg Gallery in Paris, and compares them with those of her adored master, Bastien Lepage, it is plain that she simply had assimilated the style of the latter, as in Goethe's "Elective Affinities" Ottilie acquired the handwriting of Eduard.
There remain the interesting and not infrequent cases where the talent of a clever family seems to reach its maximum in a female member of the family. But it is only talent that is transmitted in this way, not genius. Margarethe van Eyck and Sabina von Steinbach form the best illustrations of the kind of artists who, according to Ernst Guhl, an author with a great admiration for women-workers, "have been undoubtedly influenced in their choice of an artistic calling by their fathers, mothers, or brothers. In other words, they found their incentive in their own families. There are two or three hundred cases on record, and probably many hundreds more could be added without exhausting the numbers of similar instances." In order to give due weight to these statistics it may be mentioned that Guhl had just been speaking of "roughly, a thousand names of women artists known to us."
This concludes my historical review of the emancipated women. It has justified the assertion that real desire for emancipation and real fitness for it are the outcome of a woman's maleness.
The vast majority of women have never paid special attention to art or to science, and regard such occupations merely as higher branches of manual labour, or if they profess a certain devotion to such subjects, it is chiefly as a mode of attracting a particular person or group of persons of the opposite sex. Apart from these, a close investigation shows that women really interested in intellectual matters are sexually intermediate forms.
If it be the case that the desire for freedom and equality with man occurs only in masculine women, the inductive conclusion follows that the female principle is not conscious of a necessity for emancipation; and the argument becomes stronger if we remember that it is based on an examination of the accounts of individual cases and not on psychical investigation of an "abstract woman."
If we now look at the question of emancipation from the point of view of hygiene (not morality) there is no doubt as to the harm in it. The undesirability of emancipation lies in the excitement and agitation involved. It induces women who have no real original capacity but undoubted imitative powers to attempt to study or write, from various motives, such as vanity or the desire to attract admirers. Whilst it cannot be denied that there are a good many women with a real craving for emancipation and for higher education, these set the fashion and are followed by a host of others who get up a ridiculous agitation to convince themselves of the reality of their views. And many otherwise estimable and worthy wives use the cry to assert themselves against their husbands, whilst daughters take it as a method of rebelling against maternal authority. The practical outcome of the whole matter would be as follows; it being remembered that the issues are too mutable for the establishment of uniform rules or laws. Let there be the freest scope given to, and the fewest hindrances put in the way of all women with masculine dispositions who feel a psychical necessity to devote themselves to masculine occupations and are physically fit to undertake them. But the idea of making an emancipation party, of aiming at a social revolution, must be abandoned. Away with the whole "woman's movement," with its unnaturalness and artificiality and its fundamental errors.
It is most important to have done with the senseless cry for "full equality," for even the malest woman is scarcely more than 50 per cent male, and it is only to that male part of her that she owes her special capacity or whatever importance she may eventually gain. It is absurd to make comparisons between the few really intellectual women and one's average experience of men, and to deduce, as has been done, even the superiority of the female sex. As Darwin pointed out, the proper comparison is between the most highly developed individuals of two stocks. "If two lists," Darwin wrote in the "Descent of Man," "were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music - comprising composition and performance, history, science, and philosophy, with half a dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison." Moreover, if these lists were carefully examined it would be seen that the women's list would prove the soundness of my theory of the maleness of their genius, and the comparison would be still less pleasing to the champions of woman's rights.
It is frequently urged that it is necessary to create a public feeling in favour of the full and unchecked mental development of women. Such an argument overlooks the fact that "emancipation," the "woman question," "women's rights movements," are no new things in history, but have always been with us, although with varying prominence at different times in history. It also largely exaggerates the difficulties men place in the way of the mental development of women, especially at the present time. Furthermore it neglects the fact that at the present time it is not the true woman who clamours for emancipation, but only the masculine type of woman, who misconstrues her own character and the motives that actuate her when she formulates her demands in the name of woman.
As has been the case with every other movement in history, so also it has been with the contemporary woman's movement. Its originators were convinced that it was being put forward for the first time, and that such a thing had never been thought of before. They maintained that women had hitherto been held in bondage and enveloped in darkness by man, and that it was high time for her to assert herself and claim her natural rights.
But the prototype of this movement, as of other movements, occurred in the earliest times. Ancient history and medieval times alike give us instances of women who, in social relations and intellectual matters, fought for such emancipation, and of male and female apologists of the female sex. It is totally erroneous to suggest that hitherto women have had no opportunity for the undisturbed development of their mental powers.
Jacob Burckhardt, speaking of the Renaissance, says: "The greatest possible praise which could be given to the Italian women-celebrities of the time was to say that they were like men in brains and disposition!" The virile deeds of women recorded in the epics, especially those of Boiardo and Ariosto, show the ideal of the time. To call a woman a "virago" nowadays would be a doubtful compliment, but it originally meant an honour.
Women were first allowed on the stage in the sixteenth century, and actresses date from that time. "At that period it was admitted that women were just as capable as men of embodying the highest possible artistic ideals." It was the period when panegyrics on the female sex were rife; Sir Thomas More claimed for it full equality with the male sex, and Agrippa von Nettesheim goes so far as to represent women as superior to men! And yet this was all lost for the fair sex, and the whole question sank into the oblivion from which the nineteenth century recalled it.
Is it not very remarkable that the agitation for the emancipation of women seems to repeat itself at certain intervals in the world's history, and lasts for a definite period?
It has been noticed that in the tenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth, and now again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the agitation for the emancipation of women has been more marked, and the woman's movement more vigorous than in the intervening periods. It would be premature to found a hypothesis on the data at our disposal, but the possibility of a vastly important periodicity must be borne in mind, of regularly recurring periods in which it may be that there is an excess of production of hermaphrodite and sexually intermediate forms. Such a state of affairs is not unknown in the animal kingdom.
According to my interpretation, such a period would be one of minimum "gonochorism," cleavage of the sexes; and it would be marked, on the one hand, by an increased production of male women, and on the other, by a similar increase in female men. There is strong evidence in favour of such a periodicity; if it occurs it may be associated with the "secessionist taste," which idealised tall, lanky women with flat chests and narrow hips. The enormous recent increase in a kind of dandified homosexuality may be due to the increasing effeminacy of the age, and the peculiarities of the Pre-Raphaelite movement may have a similar explanation.
The existence of such periods in organic life, comparable with stages in individual life, but extending over several generations, would, if proved, throw much light on many obscure points in human history, concerning which the so-called "historical solutions," and especially the economic- materialistic views now in vogue have proved so futile. The history of the world from the biological standpoint has still to be written; it lies in the future. Here I can do little more than indicate the direction which future work should take.
Were it proved that at certain periods fewer hermaphrodite beings were produced, and at certain other periods more, it would appear that the rising and falling, the periodic occurrence and disappearance of the woman movement in an unfailing rhythm of ebb and flow, was one of the expressions of the preponderance of masculine and feminine women with the concomitant greater or lesser desire for emancipation.
Obviously I do not take into account in relation to the woman question the large number of womanly women, the wives of the prolific artisan class whom economic pressure forces to factory or field labour. The connection between industrial progress and the woman question is much less close than is usually realised, especially by the Social Democrat Group. The relation between the mental energy required for intellectual and for industrial pursuits is even less. France, for instance, although it can boast three of the most famous women, has never had a successful woman's movement, and yet in no other European country are there so many really businesslike, capable women. The struggle for the material necessities of life has nothing to do with the struggle for intellectual development, and a sharp distinction must be made between the two.
The prospects of the movement for intellectual advance on the part of women are not very promising; but still less promising is another view, sometimes discussed in the same connection, the view that the human race is moving towards a complete sexual differentiation, a definite sexual dimorphism.
The latter view seems to me fundamentally untenable, because in the higher groups of the animal kingdom there is no evidence for the increase of sexual dimorphism. Worms and rotifers, many birds and the mandrills amongst the apes, have more advanced sexual dimorphism than man. On the view that such an increased sexual dimorphism were to be expected, the necessity for emancipation would gradually disappear as mankind became separated into the completely male and the completely female. On the other hand, the view that there will be periodical resurrections of the woman's movement would reduce any such resurrection to ridiculous impotence, making it only an ephemeral phase in the history of mankind.
A complete obliteration will be the fate of any emancipation movement which attempts to place the whole sex in a new relation to society, and to see in man its perpetual oppressor. A corps of Amazons might be formed, but as time went on the material for the corps would cease to occur. The history of the woman movement during the Renaissance and its complete disappearance contains a lesson for the advocates of women's rights. Real intellectual freedom cannot be attained by an agitated mass; it must be fought for by the individual. Who is the enemy? What are the retarding influences?
The greatest, the one enemy of the emancipation of women is woman herself. It is left to the second part of my work to prove this.
SECOND OR PRINCIPAL PART
- THE SEXUAL TYPES -
Man and Woman
"All that a man does is physiognomical of him"
A free field for the investigation of the actual contrasts between the sexes is gained when we recognise that male and female, man and woman, must be considered only as types, and that the existing individuals, upon whose qualities there has been so much controversy, are mixtures of the types in different proportions. Sexually intermediate forms, which are the only actually existing individuals, were dealt with in a more or less schematic fashion in the first part of this book. Consideration of the general biological application of my theory were entered upon there; but now I have to make mankind the special subject of my investigation, and to show the defects of the results gained by the method of introspective analysis, as these results must be qualified by the universal existence of sexually intermediate conditions. In plants and animals the presence of hermaphroditism is an undisputed fact; but in them it appears more to be a juxtaposition of the male and female genital glands in the same individual than an actual fusion of the two sexes, more the co-existence of the two extremes than a quite neutral condition. In the case of human beings, however, it appears to be psychologically true that an individual, at least at one and the same moment, is always either man or woman. This is in harmony with the fact that each individual, whether superficially regarded as male or female, at once can recognise his sexual complement in another individual "woman" or "man." This uni-sexuality is demonstrated by the fact, the theoretical value of which can hardly be overestimated, that, in the relations of two homosexual men one always plays the physical and psychical role of the man, and in cases of prolonged intercourse retains his male first-name, or takes one, whilst the other, who plays the part of the woman, either assumes a woman's name or calls himself by it, or - and this is sufficiently characteristic - receives it from the former.
In the same way, in the sexual relations of two women, one always plays the male and the other the female part, a fact of the deepest significance. Here we encounter, in a most unexpected fashion, the fundamental relationship between the male and the female elements. In spite of all sexually intermediate conditions, human beings are always one of two things, either male or female. There is a deep truth underlying the old empirical sexual duality, and this must not be neglected, even although in concrete cases there is not a necessary harmony in the anatomical and morphological conditions. To realise this is to make a great step forward and to advance towards most important results. In this way we reach a conception of a real "being." The task of the rest of this book is to set forth the significance of this "existence." As, however, this existence is bound up with the most difficult side of characterology, it will be well, before setting out on our adventurous task, to attempt some preliminary orientation.
. . . Is there in a man a single and simple existence, and, if so, in what relation does it stand to the complex psychical phenomena? Has man, indeed, a soul? It is easy to understand why there has never been a science of character. The object of such a science, the character itself, is problematical. The problem of all metaphysics and theories of knowledge, the fundamental problem of psychology, is also the problem of characterology. At the least, characterology will have to take into account the theory of knowledge itself with regard to its postulates, claims, and objects, and will have to attempt to obtain information as to all the differences in the nature of men.
This unlimited science of character will be something more than the "psychology of individual differences," the renewed insistence upon which as a goal of science we owe to L. William Stern; it will be more than a sort of polity of the motor and sensory reactions of the individual, and in so far will not sink so low as the usual "results" of the modern experimental psychologists, which, indeed, are little more than statistics of physical experiments. It will hope to retain some kind of contact with the actualities of the soul which the modern school of psychology seems to have forgotten, and will not have to fear that it will have to offer to ardent students of psychology not more than profound studies of words of one syllable, or of the results on the mind of small doses of caffein. It is a lamentable testimony to the insufficiency of modern psychology that distinguished men of science, who have not been content with the study of perception and association, have yet had to hand over to poetry the explanation of such fundamental facts as heroism and self-sacrifice.
No science will become shallow so quickly as psychology if it deserts philosophy. Its separation from philosophy is the true cause of its impotency. Psychology will have to discover that the doctrine of sensations is practically useless to it. The empirical psychologists of today, in their search for the development of character, begin with investigation of touch and the common sensations. But the analysis of sensations is simply a part of the physiology of sense, and any attempt to bring it into relation with the real problems of psychology must fail.
The two most intelligent of the empirical psychologists of recent times, William James and R. Avenarius, have felt almost instinctively that psychology cannot really rest upon sensations of the skin and muscles, although, indeed, all modern psychology does depend upon study of sensation. Dilthey did not lay enough stress on his argument that existing psychology does nothing towards problems that are eminently psychological, such as murder, friendship, loneliness, and so forth. If anything is to be gained in the future there must be a demand for a really psychological psychology, and its first battle-cry must be: "Away with the study of sensations."
In attempting the broad and deep characterology that I have indicated, I must set out with a conception of character itself as a unit of existence. In characterology we must seek the permanent, existing something through fleeting changes.
The character, however, is not something seated behind the thoughts and feelings of the individual, but something revealing itself in every thought and feeling. "All that a man does is physiognomical of him." Just as every cell bears within it the characters of the whole individual, so every psychical manifestation of a man involves not merely a few little characteristic traits, but his whole being, of which at one moment one quality, at another moment another quality, comes into prominence.
Just as no sensation is ever isolated, but is set in a complete field of sensation, the world of the Ego, of which now one part and now the other, stands out more plainly, so the whole man is manifest in every moment of the psychical life, although, now one side, now the other, is more visible. This existence, manifest in every moment of the psychical life, is the object of characterology. By accepting this, there will be completed for the first time a real psychology, existing psychology, in manifest contradiction of the meaning of the word, having concerned itself almost entirely with the motley world, the changing field of sensations, and overlooked the ruling force of the Ego. The new psychology would be a doctrine of the whole, and would become fresh and fertile inasmuch as it would combine the complexity of the subject and the object, two spheres which can be separated only in abstraction. Many disputed points of psychology (perhaps the most important) would be settled by an application of such characterology, as that would explain why so many different views have been held on the same subject. The same psychical process appears from time to time in different aspects, merely because it takes tone and colouring from the individual character. And so it well may be that the doctrine of differential psychology may receive its completion in the domain of general psychology.
The confusion of characterology with the doctrine of the soul has been a great misfortune, but because this has occurred in actual history, is no reason why it should continue. The absolute sceptic differs only in a word from the absolute dogmatist. The man who dogmatically accepts the position of absolute phenomenalism, believing it to relieve him of all the burdens of proof that the mere entering on another standpoint would itself entail, will be ready to dismiss without proof the existence which characterology posits, and which has nothing to do with a metaphysical "essence."
Characterology had to defend itself against two great enemies. The one assumes that character is something ultimate, and as little the subject-matter of science as is the art of a painter. The other looks on the sensations as the only realities, on sensation as the groundwork of the world of the Ego, and denies the existence of character. What is left for characterology, the science of character? On the one hand, there are those who cry, "De individuo nulla scientia," and "Individuum est ineffabile", on the other hand, there are those sworn to science, who maintain that science has nothing to do with character.
In such a cross-fire, characterology has to take its place, and it may well be feared that it may share the fate of its sisters and remain a trivial subject like physiognomy or a diviner's art like graphology.
Male and Female Sexuality
"Woman does not betray her secret."
"From a woman you can learn nothing of women."
By psychology, as a whole, we generally understand the psychology of the psychologists, and these are exclusively men! Never since human history began have we heard of a female psychology! None the less the psychology of woman constitutes a chapter as important with regard to general psychology as that of the child. And inasmuch as the psychology of man has always been written with unconscious but definite reference to man, general psychology has become simply the psychology of men, and the problem of the psychology of the sexes will be raised as soon as the existence of a separate psychology of women has been realised. Kant said that in anthropology the peculiarities of the female were more a study for the philosopher than those of the male, and it may be that the psychology of the sexes will disappear in a psychology of the female.
None the less the psychology of women will have to be written by men. It is easy to suggest that such an attempt is foredoomed to failure, inasmuch as the conclusions must be drawn from an alien sex and cannot be verified by introspection. Granted the possibility that woman could describe herself with sufficient exactness, it by no means follows that she would be interested in the sides of her character that would interest us. Moreover, even if she could and would explore herself fully, it is doubtful if she could bring herself to talk about herself. I shall show that these three improbabilities spring from the same source in the nature of woman.
This investigation, therefore, lays itself open to the charge that no one who is not female can be in a position to make accurate statements about women. In the meantime the objection must stand, although, later, I shall have more to say of it. I will say only this much - up to now, and is this only a consequence of man's suppression? - we have no account from a pregnant woman of her sensations and feelings, neither in poetry nor in memories, nor even in a gyneacological treatise. This cannot be on account of excessive modesty, for, as Schopenhauer rightly pointed out, there is nothing so far removed from a pregnant woman as shame as to her condition. Besides, there would still remain to them the possibility of, after the birth, confessing from memory the psychical life during the time; if a sense of shame had prevented them from such communication during the time, it would be gone afterwards, and the varied interests of such a disclosure ought to have induced some one to break silence. But this has not been done. Just as we have always been indebted to men for really trustworthy expositions of the psychical side of women, so also it is to men that we owe descriptions of the sensations of pregnant women. What is the meaning of this?
Although in recent times we have had revelations of the psychical life of half-women and three-quarter women, it is practically only about the male side of them that they have written. We have really only one clue; we have to rely upon the female element in men. The principle of sexually intermediate forms is the authority for what wek know about women through men. I shall define and complete the application of this principle later on. In its indefinite form, the principle would seem to imply that the most womanish man would be best able to describe woman, and that the description might be completed by the real woman. This, however, is extremely doubtful. I must point out that a man can have a considerable proportion of femaleness in him without necessarily, to the same extent, being able to portray intermediate forms. It is the more remarkable that the male can give a faithful account of the nature of the female; since, indeed, it must be admitted from the extreme maleness of successful portrayers of women that we cannot dispute the existence of this capacity in the abstract male; this power of the male over the female is a most remarkable problem, and we shall have to consider it later. For the present we must take it as a fact, and proceed to inquire in what lies the actual psychological difference between male and female.
It has been sought to attribute the fundamental difference of the sexes to the existence of a stronger sexual impulse in man, and to derive everything else from that. Apart from the question as to whether the phrase "sexual instinct" denotes a simple and real thing, it is to be doubted if there is proof of such a difference. It is not more probable than the ancient theories as to the influence of the "unsatisfied womb" in the female, or the "semen retentum" in men, and we have to be on guard against the current tendency to refer nearly everything to sublimated sexual instinct. No systematic theory could be founded on a generalisation so vague. It is most improbable that the greater or lesser strength of the sexual impulse determines other qualities.
As a matter of fact, the statements that men have stronger sexual impulses than women, or that women have them stronger than men, are false. The strength of the sexual impulse in a man does not depend upon the proportion of masculinity in his composition, and in the same way the degree of femininity of a woman does not determine her sexual impulse. These differences in mankind still await classification.
Contrary to the general opinion, there is no difference in the total sexual impulses of the sexes. However, if we examine the matter in respect to the two component forces into which Albert Moll analysed the impulse, we shall find that a difference does exist. These forces may be termed the "liberating" and the "uniting" impulses. The first appears in the form of the discomfort caused by the accumulation of ripe sexual cells; the second is the desire of the ripe individual for sexual completion. Both impulses are possessed by the male; in the female only the latter is present. The anatomy and the physiological processes of the sexes bear out the distinction.
In this connection it may be noted that only the most male youths are addicted to masturbation, and although it is often disputed, I believe that similar vices occur only among the maler of women, and are absent from the female nature.
I must now discuss the "uniting" impulse of women, for that plays the chief, if not the sole part in her sexuality. But it must not be supposed that this is greater in one sex than the other. Any such idea comes from a confusion between the desire for a thing and the stimulus towards the active part in securing what is desired. Throughout the animal and plant kingdom, the male reproductive cells are the motile, active agents, which move through space to seek out the passive female cells, and this physiological difference is sometimes confused with the actual wish for, or stimulus to, sexual union. And to add to the confusion, it happens, in the animal kingdom particularly, that the male, in addition to the directly sexual stimulus, has the instinct to pursue and bodily capture the female, whilst the latter has only the passive part to be taken possession of. These differences of habit must not be mistaken for real differences of desire.
It can be shown, moreover, that woman is sexually much more excitable (not more sensitive) physiologically than man.
The condition of sexual excitement is the supreme moment of a woman's life. The woman is devoted wholly to sexual matters, that is to say, to the spheres of begetting and of reproduction. Her relations to her husband and children complete her life, whereas the male is something more than sexual. In this respect, rather than in the relative strength of the sexual impulses, there is a real difference between the sexes. It is important to distinguish between the intensity with which sexual matters are pursued and the proportion of the total activities of life that are devoted to them and to their accessory cares. The greater absorption of the human female by the sphere of sexual activities is the most significant difference between the sexes.
The female, moreover, is completely occupied and content with sexual matters, whilst men are interested in much else, in war and sport, in social affairs and feasting, in philosophy and science, in business and politics, in religion and art. I do not mean to imply that this difference has always existed, as I do not think that important. As in the case of the Jewish question, it may be said that the Jews have their present character because it has been forced upon them, and that at one time they were different. It is now impossible to prove this, and we may leave it to those who believe in the modification by the environment to accept it. The historical evidence is equivocal on the point. In the question of women, we have to take people as they exist today. If, however, we happen to come on attributes that could not possibly have been grafted on them from without, we may believe that such have always been with them. Of contemporary women at least one thing is certain. Apart from an exception to be noted in chap. xii, it is certain that when the female occupies herself with matters outside the interests of sex, it is for the man that she loves or by whom she wishes to be loved. She takes no real interest in things themselves. It may happen that a real female learns Latin; if so, it is for some such purpose as to help her son who is at school. Desire for a subject and ability for it, interest in it, and the facility for acquiring it, are usually proportional. He who has slight muscles has no desire to wield an axe; those without the faculty for mathematics do not desire to study that subject. Talent seems to be rare and feeble in the real female (although possibly it is merely that the dominant sexuality prevents its development), with the result that woman has no power of forming the combinations which, although they do not actually make the individuality, certainly shape it.
Corresponding to true women, there are extremely female men who are to be found always in the apartments of the women, and who are interested in nothing but love and sexual matters. Such men, however, are not the Don Juans.
The female principle is, then, nothing more than sexuality; the male principle is sexual and something more. This difference is notable in the different way in which men and women enter the period of puberty. In the case of the male the onset of puberty is a crisis; he feels that something new and strange has come into his being, that something has been added to his powers and feelings independently of his will. The physiological stimulus to sexual activity appears to come from outside his being, to be independent of his will, and many men remember the disturbing event throughout their after lives. The woman, on the other hand, not only is not disturbed by the onset of puberty, but feels that her importance has been increased by it. The male, as a youth, has no longing for the onset of sexual maturity; the female, from the time when she is still quite a young girl, looks forward to that time as one from which everything is to be expected. Man's arrival at maturity is frequently accompanied by feelings of repulsion and disgust; the young female watches the development of her body at the approach of puberty with excitement and impatient delight. It seems as if the onset of puberty were a side path in the normal development of man, whereas in the case of woman it is the direct conclusion. There are few boys approaching puberty to whom the idea that they would marry (in the general sense, not a particular girl) would not appear ridiculous, whilst the smallest girl is almost invariably excited and interested in the question of her future marriage. For such reasons a woman assigns positive value only to her period of maturity in her own case and that of other women; in childhood, as in old age, she has no real relation to the world. The thought of her childhood is for her, later on, only the remembrance of her stupidity; she faces the approach of old age with dislike and abhorrence. The only real memories of her childhood are connected with sex, and these fade away in the intensely greater significance of her maturity. The passage of a woman from virginity is the great dividing point of her life, whilst the corresponding event in the case of a male has very little relation to the course of his life.
Woman is only sexual, man is partly sexual, and this difference reveals itself in various ways. The parts of the male body by stimulation of which sexuality is excited are limited in area, and are strongly localised, whilst in the case of the woman, they are diffused over her whole body, so that stimulation may take place almost from any part. When in the second chapter of Part I., I explained that sexuality is distributed over the whole body of both sexes, I did not mean that, therefore, the sense organs, through which the definite impulses are stimulated, were equally distributed. There are, certainly, areas of greater excitability, even in the case of the woman, but there is not, as in the man, a sharp division between the sexual areas and the body generally.
The morphological isolation of the sexual area from the rest of the body in the case of man, may be taken as symbolical of the relation of sex to his whole nature. Just as there is a contrast between the sexual and the sexless parts of a man's body, so there is a time-change in his sexuality. The female is always sexual, the male is sexual only intermittently. The sexual instinct is always active in woman (as to the apparent exceptions to this sexuality of women, I shall have to speak later on), whilst in man it is at rest from time to time. And thus it happens that the sexual impulse of the male is eruptive in character and so appears stronger. The real difference between the sexes is that in the male the desire is periodical, in the female continuous.
This exclusive and persisting sexuality of the female has important physical and psychical consequences. As the sexuality of the male is an adjunct to his life, it is possible for him to keep it in the physiological background, and out of his consciousness. And so a man can lay aside his sexuality and not have to reckon with it. A woman has not her sexuality limited to periods of time, nor to localised organs. And so it happens that a man can know about his sexuality, whilst a woman is unconscious of it and can in all good faith deny it, because she is nothing but sexuality, because she is sexuality itself.
It is impossible for women, because they are only sexual to recognise their sexuality, because recognition of anything requires duality. With man it is not only that he is not merely sexual, but anatomically and physiologically he can "detach" himself from it. That is why he has the power to enter into whatever sexual relations he desires; if he likes he can limit or increase such relations; he can refuse or assent to them. He can play the part of a Don Juan or a monk. He can assume which he will. To put it bluntly, man possesses sexual organs; her sexual organs possess woman.
We may, therefore, deduce from the previous arguments that man has the power of consciousness of his sexuality and so can act against it, whilst the woman appears to be without this power. This implies, moreover, that there is greater differentiation in man, as in him the sexual and the unsexual parts of his nature are sharply separated. The possibility or impossibility of being aware of a particular definite object is, however, hardly a part of the customary meaning of the word consciousness, which is generally used as implying that if a being is conscious he can be conscious of any object. This brings me to consider the nature of the female consciousness.
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|Subject: Re: Otto Weinenger's book Sex & Character Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:37 pm|| |
Otto Weinenger's book Sex & Character