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Self-cognition and male/female sexuality

By Luc Loranhe (2010)

It is of great importance to have a correct understanding of female sexuality. This is important because more myths circulate about female sexuality than about male sexuality.

One myth is that female sexuality is fundamentally different from male sexuality. They claim, for example, that the female sex drive is weaker than the male sex drive, and that girls and women are less interested in sex, and more interested in love. Or they say that girls and women are genetically primed to seek long-lasting relationships, while boys and men supposedly are genetically programmed to seek sex with as many females as they can get.

Scientists allegedly have even discovered a gene in lower mammals that allegedly is responsible for the character tread of favoring monogamy.

Gene Transfer Enhances Pair Bonding In Monogamous Voles

The reasoning why allegedly, girls and women seek longer monogamous relationships, and men seek a multitude of sexual relationships sound very convincing indeed. It's maximizing procreation. Women will achieve the best procreative success if they have intercourse not with many men, but just with one who is highly committed to the survival of the offspring.

Men, on the contrary, are said to achieve the greatest procreative success if they impregnate as many females as possible.

Now, even if these theories make biological sense, and even if genetic make-up is involved, they are still wrong if applied to humans who have achieved self-cognition.

The most important element of self-cognition is that we are aware, and have accepted, that our individual lives only last for a limited period of time, and that our lives definitely end with our individual deaths, and that our selves become for ever non-existent with our deaths.

For genetically determined life forms (which is: all biological life forms), self-cognition certainly was an operational accident, because it negates its success.

There is one effect of self-cognition that overrides all genetic determination: self-cognition allows us to realize that our own interests can well be in conflict with the interests of our genes. And, ironically, our genetically programmed capability to adapt makes it easy for us to decide, in cases of conflict, in favor of our own interests, and against the interests of our genes.

The interest of our genes is procreation at all costs, even if this should mean misery, suffering, and self-sacrifice for us. It is even in the interests of our genes that we vacate the surface of this planet when we only are a burden to the next generation of our genes, as having to take care of us when we are old can be a handicap for the procreative success of our genes which already are in their next generation.

But our own interest is to stay around for as long as this is not associated with unbearable suffering; our own interest is not to sacrifice ourselves for coming generations, but to have a pleasant, even an exciting life, and to end it in a gentle death.

The opposition between human consciousness (especially what I call self-cognition) and the interests of the selfish genes has been discussed, but not sufficiently explained by Richard Dawkins in his book "The Selfish Gene".

Lecture on Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

Consciousness, with is less than self-cognition and scientific death awareness, is a product of evolution, and has thus come into existence gradually.

William James and the evolution of consciousness

Consciousness is a rather complicated brain function, more complicated than the digestive functions of the liver, or even the sensual functions of the eye.

How consciousness functions in detail has been explained by Daniel Dennet in his book "Consciousness explained".

A review of Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained

Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

Before proceeding, I do want to point out that consciousness is not cognition, and self-consciousness is not self-cognition. Self-consciousness is "to have some ideas about oneself", while self-cognition is "to have some ideas about oneself that are founded on science, of objective truths".

It's a typical case of what dialectical materialism considers a change of quantity into quality. For an easy explanation of this phenomenon in dialectical materialism, see the following link and proceed to the phrase "the proposition of the transformation of quality into quantity"

August Thalheimer: Introduction to Dialectical Materialism

Consciousness proceeds to self-consciousness, and both can accumulate to a certain quantity, steadily increasing the competitive edge of the organism, used by our gene to propagate themselves.

But at a certain quantity, self-consciousness becomes self-cognition, and the brain, which is part of the organism used and abused by our genes to propagate themselves, realizes that its interests are different from the interests of the genes. Self-cognition happens when the brain realizes that it is not in our interest to sacrifice ourselves for coming generations, but to have a pleasant, even an exciting life, and to end it in a gentle death.

Now, the above-cited content of self-cognition is exactly the same for males and females. For this reason, it is irrelevant whether and if females may be genetically programmed to be more willing to sacrifice themselves for their offspring, or whether they are genetically programmed to stay with one partner even if it means sexual boredom.

Self-cognition anyway overrides any genetic programming that is in conflict with the interests of one's self, as opposed to the interests of one's genes.

But self-cognition is not something we are born with. Children have no self-cognition. And if any of us were to be born and to grow up on an isolated island, among others who have also never had contact with the rest of the world, we could not achieve self-cognition (even though we would still be equipped with self-consciousness). We would not know about the nature of our individual deaths, and nothing about the universe, and nothing about the fallacy of all religions (and other mythical obstacles to self-cognition).

For self-cognition is not biologically inherent in us, but a cultural and intellectual achievement in opposition to our genetic programming. And because access to education has throughout the ages been easier for men than to women, there have, quite possibly, been more men in history who have achieved self-cognition than women.

But nowadays, self-cognition is attainable with equal ease for men and women, and the consequences each sex can draw from self-cognition are exactly the same: that optimal sexual experience, followed by a gentle death, is the most sensible pursuit in life, and not to sacrifice oneself for future generations.

Now, even as we have achieved self-cognition, whether we are male or female, we still have to deal with our emotions, which are genetically shaped. We all emotionally care for our children, especially when they are small, and even if self-cognition lets us be aware of the conflict between our own interests and the interests of our genes, we may emotionally decide in favor of what our genes demand. And this may well be more pronounced on the part of women than on the part of men.

I can judge this from own experience, and not just theoretically. I do have children with more than one woman. And they are all very well taken care of. And even though my children do not live with me, I am very concerned about their welfare, and I could not enjoy my freedom if my children would suffer.

And because I assume that comparative emotions are even more pronounced in women, it is of such great importance that any sexual liberation of women first of all addresses child welfare.

As for the above-cited article on the monogamy gene. Read it again, and you will come across the following sentence:

"Because vasopressin has been shown to increase anxiety in rats, the scientists also tested the voles in a maze that measures general anxiety and found that the experimental group exhibited more general anxiety than the control groups."

I doubt that the preference for a known sexual partner in itself is based on genetic determination. I assume that much rather, monogamous preferences in any species are related to levels of anxiety. If we, and apparently prairie voles, are in states of increased anxiety, we will naturally exhibit rather monogamous tendencies.

Which is why safety (the kind that can be provided only by strong government) is intrinsically related to sexual freedom. And because human females are physically weaker than human males, their sexual freedom benefit from safety is even greater than that of males.

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Copyright Luc Loranhe