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In the previous five volumes of these Elllis, I have dealt mainly with the sexual impulse in relation to its object, leaving out of account the external persons and the environmental influences which yet may powerfully affect that impulse and its gratification. We cannot afford, however, to pass unnoticed this relationship of the sexual impulse to third persons and to the community at large with all its anciently established traditions.
We have to consider sex in relation to society. In this volume the terminal phenomena of the sexual process are discussed, before an attempt is finally made, in the concluding volume, to consider the bearings of havellock psychology of sex on that part of morals which may be called “social hygiene.
As in many other of these Studies, and perhaps more than in most, the task attempted in the present volume is mainly of a tentative and preliminary character. There is here little scope yet for the presentation of definite scientific results.
However it may be in the physical universe, in the cosmos of science our knowledge must be nebulous before it constellates into definitely measurable shapes, and nothing is gained by attempting to anticipate the evolutionary process. Thus it is that here, for the most part, we have to content ourselves at present with haveelock task of mapping out the field in broad and general outlines, bringing together the facts and considerations which indicate the dir Sexual inversion, as here understood, means sexual instinct turned by inborn constitutional abnormality toward persons of the same sex.
It is thus a narrower term than homosexuality, which includes all sexual attractions between persons of the same sex, even when seemingly due to the accidental absence of the natural objects of sexual attraction, a phenomenon of wide occurrence among all human races and among most of the higher lkbros. It is only during recent years that sexual inversion has been recognized; previously it was not distinguished from homosexuality in general, and homosexuality was regarded as a national custom, as an individual vice, or as an unimportant episode in grave f The term “sexual instinct” may be said to cover the whole of the neuropsychic phenomena of reproduction which man shares with the havflock animals.
It is true that much discussion has taken place concerning the proper use of the term “instinct,” and some definitions of instinctive action would appear to exclude the essential mechanism of the process whereby sexual reproduction is assured.
Such definitions scarcely seem legitimate, and are certainly unfortunate.
Herbert Spencer’s definition of instinct as “compound reflex action” is sufficiently clear and definite for ordinary use. The origin of these Studies dates from many years back. As a youth I was faced, as others are, by the problem of sex.
Living partly in an Australian city where the ways of life were plainly seen, partly in the solitude of the bush, I was free both to contemplate and to meditate many things. A resolve slowly grew up within me: That was more than twenty years ago.
Since then I can honestly say that in all that I have done that resolve has never been very far from my thoughts. I have always been slowly working up to this central problem; and in a book published some three years ago—Man and Woman: THE very name of Oscar Wilde challenges criticism. Conventionality taboos him and decadence claims him.
A man who was better in some ways than his defamers and worse than most of his admirers must always be a puzzle to the average reader of character who is neither subtle, generous, nor courageous. Oscar Wilde was an exotic product of a commercial age. He was a protest against current ugliness elliss smugness, a fine frenzy set against average ideals and commonplace platitudes.
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He was a poet full of apparent poses, a feminine artist in the body of a man. His mother had longed for a girl before Wilde’s birth.
The answer to her prayer was this strange medley of undirected genius, misguid