It is interesting – and rather sad – how the focus on Kant’s virginity and the associated pathologizing of his decision reflects our couplemanical stance. Unless you are coupled – or at least have had sex – there must be something wrong with you. It is time to question this conclusion! There are many reasons that a person might not be couple, or might not have sex, that are entirely valid and far from pathological. These reason include simply choosing to do so or is just simply not sexually attracted to anybody. Choice and biology can underlie not being on the beaten path. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I’ve been spending way too much time since the beginning of December reading, rereading, and rerereading Kant’s Prolegomena, a work that attempts to summarize his Critique of Reason, Kant’s important contribution to philosophy in general and metaphysics in particular. It is impossible to understand his writing without total immersion, which means reading the same thing over and over again. I am beginning to understand what he is saying but that’s not what this post will be about. This post will be about a fact from Kant’s life: Kant died a virgin. This fact seems to conjure up all the prejudices we like to impose on single people, all of them boiling down to: There is something wrong with us. There are certainly things wrong in Kant’s philosophy (or lets put it less harshly, there are some things that we certainly need to question). But dying a virgin isn’t one of them. Kant imposes his puritanical view of sex onto us by claiming that marriage is necessary because only then can we have morally right sex (see an excellent article by Elizabeth Brake who refutes this position using Kant’s own ethical position). But this has nothing to do with his choice of remaining a virgin. Sure, maybe he was disgusted by sex. Maybe he thought it was morally wrong (interestingly, his view on the morality of sex might have been similar to some feminists, as Brake points out). But maybe he just chose to remain single because his life’s work was not to produce umpteen children. He would rather spend his time developing his own philosophy than mating and recreating as society demanded from him.