Harvard Sex Week Begins With a Bang

Source: The Harvard Crimson.

I don’t find this story particularly compelling for any inherent reason, except that it mentions taboos, which is an interesting concept to contemplate.

I mentioned in my post on the origins of money that reciprocity is a universal principle in human culture and social psychology.

https://wordpress.com/post/tidewaterforum.blog/11474

The basic concept of reciprocity is that we naturally feel an obligation to treat others as they treat us. You can use reciprocity to explain the origins of money by noting that reciprocal obligations can build up in a society over time until they become so burdensome that some sort of release must be engineered (think feuds, for example). Hence the repayment or retirement of social debt through the material means of an exchange of goods. According to this theory, prototypical money consists of calculating the type and quantity of the material exchange or of establishing socially acceptable rules for the calculation.

Taboos are related to reciprocity. “A taboo is an implicit prohibition on something (usually against an utterance or behavior) based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people.” (Wikipedia)

In other words, taboos are a way of preventing reciprocal obligations from building up until they become so pressurized that they damage the society in which they occur.

This, to my mind, explains why taboos should be overturned only with great caution. One can think of taboos as a natural product of successful human evolution. As such, there can be no free lunch in abolishing them.

4 thoughts on “Harvard Sex Week Begins With a Bang

  1. I have to disagree.

    A taboo essentially means you can’t do something you want to do because I find it offensive.

    Again, with the caveat that whatever you want to do involves only consenting adults, and that I am not compelled to participate or witness what you want to do, then it is none of my business.

    Certainly, taboos have a long history, but most of it is bad. Anything that limits human freedom absent aggression is inherently wrong.

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    1. RE: “A taboo essentially means you can’t do something you want to do because I find it offensive.”

      In that case the question arises: Do you object for good reason, or does the objection recurring over time confer a selection advantage?

      I don’t mean to imply that taboos are inherently beneficial, only that their origins are not arbitrary.

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      1. RE: “I don’t mean to imply that taboos are inherently beneficial, only that their origins are not arbitrary.”

        And not irrational.

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  2. So they actually have a course in how to play and have fun in feces? Reminds me of a sick couple who handed me a sex toy catalog, hoping I would buy something from them, that featured a cream call anal ease. They sang the praises of it and said you can even use it to brush your child’s teeth with!! True story!! Oh hell no!! Yuck!!

    Like

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