Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain.
For permission to reproduce and distribute this article for course use, visit the web site http: I Everyone knows that something has gone wrong, in the United States, with the conventions of privacy. Along with a vastly increased tolerance for variation in sexual life we have seen a sharp increase in prurient and censorious attention to the sexual lives of public figures and famous persons, past and present.
The culture seems to be growing more tolerant and more intolerant at the same time, though perhaps different parts of it are involved in the two movements.
Sexual taboos in the fairly recent past were also taboos against saying much about sex in public, and this had the salutary side-effect of protecting persons in the public eye from invasions of privacy by the main-stream media.
It meant that the sex lives of politicians were rightly treated as irrelevant to the assessment of their qualifications, and that one learned only in rough outline, if at all, about the sexual conduct of prominent creative thinkers and artists of the past.
Now, instead, there is open season on all this material.
The public, followed sanctimoniously by the media, feels entitled to know the most intimate details of the life of any public figure, as if it were part of the price of fame that you exposed everything about yourself to view, and not just the achievement or performance that has brought you to public attention.
Because of the way life is, this results in real damage to the condition of the public sphere: Many people cannot take that kind of exposure, and many are discredited or tarnished in ways that have nothing to do with their real qualifications or achievements.
One might think, in a utopian vein, that we could carry our toleration a bit further, and instead of trying to reinstitute the protection of privacy, cease to regard all this personal information as important.
Then pornographic films of presidential candidates could be available in video stores and it wouldn't matter.
But it isn't as simple as that. These boundaries between what is publicly exposed and what is not exist for a reason. We will never reach a point at which nothing that anyone does disgusts anyone else.
We can expect to remain in a sexual world deeply divided by various lines of imaginative incomprehension and disapproval. So conventions of reticence and privacy serve a valuable function in keeping us out of each other's faces.
Yet that is only part of the story. We don't want to expose ourselves completely to strangers even if we don't fear their disapproval, hostility, or disgust.
Naked exposure itself, whether or not it arouses disapproval, is disqualifying. The boundary between what we reveal and what we do not, and some control over that boundary, are among the most important attributes of our humanity. Someone who for special reasons becomes a public or famous figure should not have to give it up.
This particular problem is part of a larger topic, namely the importance of concealment as a condition of civilization.
Concealment includes not only secrecy and deception, but also reticence and nonacknowledgment. There is much more going on inside us all the time than we are willing to express, and civilization would be impossible if we could all read each other's minds. Apart from everything else there is the sheer chaotic tropical luxuriance of the inner life.
We also have to learn, especially in adolescence, not to be overwhelmed by a consciousness of other people's awareness of and reaction to ourselves -- so that our inner lives can be carried on under the protection of an exposed public self over which we have enough control to be able to identify with it, at least in part.
There is an analogy between the familiar problem that liberalism addresses in political theory, of how to join together individuals with conflicting interests and a plurality of values, under a common system of law that serves their collective interests equitably without destroying their autonomy -- and the purely social problem of defining conventions of reticence and privacy that allow people to interact peacefully in public without exposing themselves in ways that would be emotionally traumatic or would inhibit the free operation of personal feeling, fantasy, imagination, and thought.
It is only an analogy: One can be a political liberal without being a social individualist, as liberals never tire of pointing out. But I think there is a natural way in which a more comprehensive liberal respect for individual autonomy would express itself through social conventions, as opposed to legal rules.
In both cases a delicate balance has to be struck, and it is possible in both cases to err in the direction of too much or too little restraint. I believe that in the social domain, the restraints that protect privacy are not in good shape.
They are weakest where privacy impinges on the political domain, but the problem is broader than that. The grasp of the public sphere and public norms has come to include too much.
That is the claim I want to defend in this essay -- in a sense it is a defense of the element of restraint in a liberal social order. Practically, it is hard to know what to do about a problem like this.
Once a convention of privacy loses its grip, there is a race to the bottom by competing media of publicity. What I would like to do here is to say something about the broader phenomenon of boundaries, and to consider more particularly what would be a functional form of restraint in a culture like ours, where the general level of tolerance is high, and the portrayal of sex and other intimate matters in general terms is widely accepted -- in movies, magazines, and literature.
Knowing all that we do, what reason is there still to be reticent? While sex is a central part of the topic, the question of reticence and acknowledgment is much broader.
The fact is that once we leave infancy and begin to get a grip on the distinction between ourselves and others, reticence and limits on disclosure and acknowledgment are part of every type of human relation, including the most intimate.
Intimacy creates personal relations protected from the general gaze, permitting us to lose our inhibitions and expose ourselves to one another.International Students. Students from more than 85 countries have found a home at Duke. Innovative, restless and driven: these are qualities not confined by geography.
Religion and Science. Return to Top; The following article by Albert Einstein appeared in the New York Times Magazine on November 9, pp It has been reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, Crown Publishers, Inc.
, pp 36 - It also appears in Einstein's book The World as I See It, Philosophical Library, New York, , pp.
24 - Everything that the human race has done and thought is. Paul Kingsnorth is a writer and poet living in Cumbria, England. He is the author of several books, including the poetry collection Kidland and his fictional debut The Wake, winner of the Gordon Burn Prize and the Bookseller Book of the Year Award.
Kingsnorth is the cofounder and director of the Dark Mountain Project, a network of writers, artists, and thinkers. From The Advanced Writing Handbook for ESOL by John Sparks. Used with permission. - 49 - Definition Essay A definition essay goes beyond just a dictionary definition of a word.
Usually a word or concept can be defined in just one sentence. Essay on “My Best Friend” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.
Hindi Short Story “Jese ko Tesa”, “जैसे को तैसा” Hindi Laghu Katha for Class 9, Class 10 and Class Hindi Short Story “Lalchi Kutta”, “लालची कुत्ता” Hindi Laghu Katha for .
Essay on “My Best Friend” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes. This is the full text of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, metin2sell.comn uses several words that are not in common use today. You'll find the definitions of those words by . Here's my full essay for the 'positive or negative development' question that we've been looking at over the last few weeks. In some countries, many more people are choosing to live alone nowadays than in the past. Do you think this is a positive or negative development? In recent years it has become far more normal for people to live alone, .