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The Ethics of Sexual Acts (1934) - René Guyon
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The Ethics of Sexual Acts (1934) - René Guyon
It is not unreasonable to assume that in a future society, less benighted by the shadow of past ages, Guyon will rank among the immortal emancipators of the human race. His valiant efforts may eventually accomplish in the sphere of sex what the advanced thinkers of Voltaire's day achieved in the realm of political freedom. The present volume contains many building stones upon which to rear a happier world, the world of tomorrow, although it may take generations before the edifice is completed.
Unquestionably The Ethics of Sexual Acts was years ahead of its time when it was first published in 1934. During the years since 1934, scientific and statistical workers have produced a body of that shores up Guyon’s conclusions. The day for Guyon to reach his proper audience would seem to have arrived.
The scientific study of sexual phenomena and of the relations between the sexes has long been hampered by the censorship that has weighed so heavily on sex. It is only since the dawn of the twentieth century that the question has been seriously raised as to whether the anti-sexual moralists have not been the victims of some strange delusion.
The reader must not lose sight of the fact that this volume is essentially a physiological or, to use the current expression, a psycho-physiological study. He must expect, in the following pages to find observations drawn without restriction from all physiological phenomena which are capable of throwing light upon our subject.
About the Author
René Guyon was born at Sedan, France, in 1876. He studied at the University of Paris, which awarded him a Doctor of Law degree in 1902. Primarily a jurist, he began his writing career with treatises on French legal problems. He has also written fiction and poetry. Between 1924 and 1931 he published three examinations of materialistic philosophy – in the fields of metaphysics, biology, and psychology. Then came Osiris, Deionysus, Prometheus and Eros, a tetralogy of inquiry into the soundness and value of human conventions and traditions. During these active years, Guyon was collecting material for his magnum opus, Etudes d’ethiques sexuelles (ten volumes), of which the present book is the first volume. He also traveled widely, visiting much of Europe, North Africa, the Sudan, Siberia, China, Indo-China, Malaya, and Indonesia. Invited by the Siamese government to draft and codify a new legal system, he rose to chairmanship of the commission, which finished its labors in 1919. Thereafter he became legislative adviser to the Ministry of Justice in Bangkok and a justice of the Siamese Supreme Court.
It was he who drafted the model legal code for the United Nations when it was founded.
Pioneering work in both sexology and jurisprudence.
René Guyon was born at Sedan, France, in 1876. He matriculated at the University of Paris, which in 1902 conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Law. His first publications were treatises dealing with legal problems in France. After collaborating on two novels, he fathered a book of poems, "The Pagan Easter". Between 1924 and 1931 he published three scholarly volumes: "The Metaphysics of Materialism", "The Materialistic Philosophy of Biology", and "The Materialistic Philosophy of Psychology". These were followed by "The Wide Gate", a collective title for four books, "Osiris", "Dionysus", "Prometheus", and "Eros", which challenge and revaluate many established traditions of mankind. While these were being written, studies continued for his most conspicuous work on civilization and sex: the "Studies in Sexual Ethics" ("Etude ethique d'sexuelle").
This 10 volume set was originally published in France in the early 1930s. To the best of my knowledge, only the first two volumes have been translated & published in English. The 10 volumes are:
- I. "La Legitimite des actes sexuels" ("The Ethics of Sexual Acts") was published in the US by Alfred A. Knopf in 1934 and in 1948.
- II. "La Liberte sexuelle" ("Sexual Freedom") was first published in England in 1939 and later in the US by Octagon Press, and later still by Greenwood Press.
These first two volumes establish the principles of sexual legitimacy and of sexual freedom. In the following seven volumes Guyon proceeds to apply these principles to the major sexual problems of civilization.
- III. "Revision des institutions calssiques" ("Revision of the Classic Institutions") dissects critically the family, marriage, and their relation to human reproduction.
- IV. "Politique rationnelle de sexualite" ("A Rational Sexual Policy: Human Reproduction") continues the former discussion and advocates the subordination of marriage and the family to the 'rational procreation' of children as more important to the community and mankind at large.
- V. "Le Plaisir sexual" ("A Rational Sexual Policy: Sexual Pleasure") deals again with rational sexual policy and here Guyon contrasts the 'pro-sexual societies' of antiquity with our 'anti-sexual'Judeo-Christian civilization. He recommends pro-sexual policies and tolerance, extending the principles of legitimacy, justification, and freedom to sexual pleasure.
- VI. "Persecution des actes sexuels" ("The Persecution of Sexual Acts") reveals Guyon's juridical acumen. Its special subject is 'Les Courtisans', a term he prefers to 'prostitutes'. Guyon demonstrates the absurdity and immorality of the 'modern phobia of prostitution' and derides the persecution of individual courtesans. He points out the legal errors underlying such persecution, especially regarding the nature of the 'business of courtesans', and he calls attention to the hypocricsy as well as the danger of punishing their 'offenses'. He justifies the profession of the courtesan by invoking the principles of sexual legitimacy and freedom, while conceding, of course, their limitations demanded by logic, hygiene, and the common good.
- Volumes VII - X were possibly never published in anything but manuscript form (I'm not sure).
VII complements "The Persecution of Sexual Acts. It deals with procurers, pimps, 'white slavers', and so on, whom Guyon calls 'intermediaries'. As the only solution of the problem involved, he suggests a complete revision of the prevailing legal and social approach. Other chapters discuss 'The Child and Sexual Acts', 'The Sexual Slavery of Minors', and 'The Bluff of Pornography'. In a section on 'The Psycho-Physiology of the So-Called Venereal Diseases', the author recommends their reclassification (syphilis being not a venereal but an infectious disease). He objects vigorously to the use of venereal disease as a 'weapon of the puritans.'
- VIII. "The Puritan Terror in Modern Society", exposes what the author chooses to call the 'puritan offensive.' Its pseudo-social and pseudo-scientific methods may often be successfus, but they are nevertheless vulnerable.
- IX outlines in detail "The Organization of a Pro-sexual society, and in a supplementary volume (X), "The Abolition of Sex Offenses in Penal Law", Guyon Presents a blueprint of the new laws demanded by an enlightened pro-sexual society.
R. Guyon travelled throughout the world, spending time in Europe, North Africa, the Sudan, Siberia, China, Indo-China, Malaysia, and the Indonesian Archipelago.
He went to Siam as a member of the Commission of Codification (for drafting new legal codes), and eventually became its chief. After completing this task (1919), he remained in Siam as legislative advisor to the Ministry of Justice and judge in the Supreme Court (until, I presume, his death).
(excerpt from the preface of the 1948 Alfred Knopf edition of "The Ethics of Sexual Acts") --http://www.paedosexualitaet.de/right/guyon.html [Aug 2004]
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