Intellectual wierdness

Discoveries of weirdness in classic texts is one of the things that makes being a philosopher fun.

A few days ago, while reading Augustine’s The City of God in pursuit of his discussion of the philosophy of law, I came across this wonderful remark. It seems that God punished humanity for Adam’s original sin by inflicting upon him the frustration of erectile dysfunction.

From the man’s own pen: sexual desire is self-defeating, as a source of happiness, because:

“…the lovers of these carnal delights themselves cannot have this emotion at their will, either in nuptial conjunctions, or wicked impurities. The motion will be sometimes importunate against the will, and sometimes immovable when it is desired, and being fervent in the mind, yet will be frozen in the body.” (City of God, Book 14 Ch. 16)

Then follows a brief discussion of how the fact that people have sex in private, even lawfully married couples seeking only to have children, is evidence of the inherent and natural shamefulness of sex. Finally he concludes:

“for that disobedience, whereby the genital members are taken away from the will’s rule and given to lust’s, is a plain demonstration of the reward that our first father had for his sin…” (City of God, bk 14 ch. 20).

A better example of misercorpism in one of the ‘great’ books of the Western philosophical tradition I’ve never seen. And it goes on for pages! Look it up yourself if you want to! All of Book 14 is dedicated to the thesis that erectile dysfunction is evidence of the truth of the doctrine of original sin. At the end of Book 14, Augustine argues that if not for the original sin of Adam and Eve, humanity would have been able to fully control all the members of their bodies with the will. And therefore humanity would be able to be fruitful and multiply without experiencing sexual desire.

How the intellectual history of Christianity would have been different if Augustine had a supply if Viagra!

PS: erynn9999 I borrowed one of your icons. Hope that’s okay.

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