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Monogamy?
Adam Phillips in his book Monogamy (of which I have read only a small part), a book of aphorisms, says:
"At its best monogamy may be the wish to find someone to die with; at its worst it is a cure for the terrors of aliveness. They are easily confused."

"Infidelity is such a problem because we take monogamy for granted; we treat it as the norm. Perhaps we should take infidelity for granted, assume it with unharrassed ease. Then we would be able to think about monogamy."

And what I find absolutely brilliant - the view of monogamy as religion:

"Not everyone believes in monogamy, but everyone lives as though they do. Everyone is aware of lying or wanting to tell the truth when loyalty or fidelity are at stake. Everyone thinks of themselves as betraying or betrayed. Everyone feels jealous or guilty, and suffers the anguish of their preferences. And the happy few who apparently never experience sexual jealousy are always either puzzled about this or boast about it. No one has ever been excluded from feeling left out. And everyone is obsessed by what they are excluded from. Believing in monogamy, in other words, is not unlike believing in God."

Phillips sees monogamy as a kind of religion where we are supposed to believe in it. He notes that even the terms we use are borrowed from religion.

And the equally brilliant:
"Our survival at the very beginning of our lives involves us in something like monogamy. Our growing up involves us in something like infidelity (we challenge our parents, we betray them, we let them down). So when we think about monogamy we think about it as though we are still children and not adults as well. We don't know what adults think about monogamy."

Do you agree? How are we to liberate ourselves from a religion so strongly imposed on us? I know people who have stopped being religious, but if they were born into it they can never escape it and their new life is always under a feeling of sin and betrayal. Should we liberate ourselves or embrace it?

Even if one is an atheist, how does one live in a world where everyone pretends to be believers, and hold others to a morality they almost never adhere themselves?
Books Discussed
Monogamy
by Adam Phillips

I believe that for the large majority of couples (both hetero&homosexual) monogamy is a front, a facade. Equally, there are many who claim to be religious, but know within themselves they betray their God frequently, probably daily, even in some small way. Hence, I agree monogamy and religion can both be difficult to uphold for most of those same people.

Monogamy pertains to your neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances, but truthfully, does it pertain to you? Probably not - and probably not to them either.

I will continue this later, as I must get out the door soon....
One difference with religion, nowadays, is that religion is not legalized. You are not forced to follow its rules in the way monogamy is legalized.
I think it is interesting to compare monogamy and heterosexuality. Yes there are people who are not heterosexual but it needs, or needed, to stay hidden even if everybody knew about it. Similarly non-monogamous people need to stay in the closet due to public opinion. Homosexuality is more accepted at the moment, and is starting to be even accepted legally. Should we do the same with monogamy?
It is funny that many of the people who outcry against homosexuality and homosexual marriages could be the people who would be the strongest supporters of bigamy.

If once bigamy put women in a problematic situation and the rules against it were also rules to protect women, is it anymore the case? I don't think so. Perhaps women are still less interested in bigamy then men are due to their psychological upbringing but that would change quickly if bigamy would be legalized.

What's even funnier is that numbers wise, monogamy is probably more like heterosexuality than like homosexuality where the minority are the ones who have never "had a slip."  And even those who didn't "slip" was it because they didn't want to or because of moral laws. Obviously because of moral laws, but then that is also what stops murder. Do we accept these as similar?

I also think that people are ashamed to discuss the topic as, like discussing homosexuality, people could immediately suspect anyone not decrying it as sin.
Well, I'm reasonably experimental at least where theory is concerned, but I want to speak up against the unfocused anti-monogamy sentiment which seems to be rising up. George, it seems what you are mainly upset about is the way people don't think for themselves about what they would like but are browbeaten into all manner of concessions as far as their true desires and happiness are concerned. I don't think anyone would disagree with you there, but why pick on monogamy more than, say, any other significant long-term attempt at human connection and self-expression?

If we're going to focus on monogamy, it seems to me that several things are being conflated: just to start off, (1) being with one person at a time versus (2) being with one person for always.  Which kind of monogamy are we talking about? Bigamists would fall into essentially all of the same traps as far as the hegemony of the one decision made in youth is concerned. On the other hand I doubt even the most devoted swingers would claim that their lives have been a string of more or less equally important relationships; even most polyamorous people tend to have "primary partners". So where does this phenomenon come from? Is there just a deep human need for companionship?

It's not uncommon for people to have "best friends" for most of their life -- maybe it's more than one, but rarely more than a handful. Is the argument that we should just liberalize the sexual part of a relationship? If so, then we're talking simply about who one has sex with, which really barely skims the surface of the monogamy argument. Of course, sex is a complicated thing and hardly separable; but still, let's be clear.

So, to summarize, what I think is surprising actually is that if one looks across many categories of intense human relationship it's actually much more often the case that there are only one or two really serious "others" in a person's lifetime. So what's really at stake?
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