Qty:1
  • List Price: $39.99
  • Save: $2.39 (6%)
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Mismeasure of Desire:... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A pretty good ex-library copy with clean text. Prompt shipping. Your satisfaction is guaranteed!
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation (Ideologies of Desire) Paperback – May 17, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0195142440 ISBN-10: 0195142446

Buy New
Price: $37.60
25 New from $21.98 30 Used from $0.49 1 Collectible from $101.73
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$37.60
$21.98 $0.49
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of February
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Frequently Bought Together

The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation (Ideologies of Desire) + Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation + Debating Same-Sex Marriage (Point/Counterpoint (Oxford Paperback))
Price for all three: $66.51

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Series: Ideologies of Desire
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195142446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195142440
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Is there a "gay gene"? What if there is? And what does "gay" mean, anyway? Philosopher and queer studies instructor Edward Stein asks these questions and far more, delving deeply into our feelings about gender and sexuality in The Mismeasure of Desire, a deep but accessible examination of how we classify and study sexual orientation. Stein is that rare postmodern philosopher who explains his terms simply and strives for clarity in thought and prose; readers scared off by his background in the humanities will find his book as sensible as any science text. He divides his subjects into sections on metaphysics, science, and ethics, each building on the last.

First turning his attention to the construction of gender and desire, Stein takes great pains to define his terms so that they satisfy our intuitions yet maintain the rigor required of them by his philosophical operations. This territory has been explored fairly well over the last 30 years, but he finds new paths well worth further pursuit. Next he examines the social and biological research pertaining to sexual orientation; not surprisingly, he finds much fault therein, as much (if not all) of it rests on thoroughly disreputable and homophobic foundations. These assumptions are brought out of the closet and don't stand up well to scrutiny, lending power to Stein's concluding ethical arguments that we should at the very least demand more of researchers looking into sexual orientation, and perhaps curtail such research altogether. The powerful, heady ideas in The Mismeasure of Desire will keep you thinking for years to come. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The vast majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people believe that their sexuality is an inborn trait, whereas scientists favor theories of genetic or hormonal causation, psychologists point to environmental factors and most cutting-edge queer theorists are convinced that sexual orientations are constructed by historical and social factors. In a refreshingly daring work, philosopher Stein (Without Good Reason) raises metaphysical, methodological and ethical questions that challenge all sides of the debate with an eye toward reevaluating previous studies and developing new criteria for future research. Deploring the lack of cross-cultural research, he argues that much of what we think we know about sexual desire is wrong. Stein's decision to separate his review of past scientific and psychological research (often aided by clever parables) from his discussion of philosophical and ethical considerations leads to a great deal of unnecessary overlap, as does the author's redundant style (e.g., "Natural selection involves selection... "). While the general reader may benefit from the recaps, more sophisticated readers who have followed the debates over many of these studies in newspapers and journals will find the pace tedious and discover little that is new. Stein is at his best when querying the wisdom of undertaking such research at all. However, he so frequently refrains from taking sides that his analysis raises more questions than it answers. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

D. in philosophy to read this book!
Joan Mazza
Scientists will always seek to order the chaos, and philosophers will always seek to say that chaos can never be fully ordered.
Allegro100
Because it is a serious book, it is not light reading; you have to stop and think about what Stein is saying.
E. Buckley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Van Buckley on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
How ironic that I finished this book on the same day that a new study came out linking finger length to sexual orientation.
This book is one of the most challenging I have ever read ... not only was it slow going at times while I struggled to grasp new ideas and concepts, but challenging in terms of getting me to look at my preconceived notions about sexual orientation in completely new ways.
I admit there were times when I almost gave up on The Mismeasure of Desire. First because of the dry, academic style in which it is written. Later I grew frustrated with Mr. Stein taking up pages to explain a concept only to watch him "tear down" that concept in the next chapter. Now that I've finished The Mismeasure of Desire, I'm happy I stuck with the task of reading it. I find myself initiating conversations with friends about the ideas that are presented in the book and I find that I'm thinking about being gay in much different ways than when I first started this book.
On the whole, this is a fascinating overview of the issue of sexual orientation and the research to study and define our "desires." My only major complaint with the book is the final section on the ethics of sexual orientation research. The issues raised in the chapters in this section could easily be expanded into an entire book. As it is, it feels like Mr. Stein breezes through some of these issues that could stand more in-depth study.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. Buckley on November 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a serious look at the issues involved in thinking about sexual orientation. For example, while we all have a basic understanding of ideas like "gay" and "straight", coming up with an adequate definition that works for all the different kinds of people in the world is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. The point of this book is to take it beyond first glances to a clearer understanding. Such fundamental definitional questions have implications for any discussions of related issues, such as gay rights legislation (who is actually covered by these protections?) and scientific research on sexual orientation (just what are we trying to measure?). How can we claim to know what causes a person to be "gay" unless we first know which people that term is supposed to describe?
There is also a less philosophical discussion of research methodologies and problems that arise specifically in doing research on an aspect of human nature that many people try to keep secret. For example, it's not clear that all the subjects in various experiments were "gay" at all, even by a simple definition. Obviously, if this is true, the results of such research are close to worthless, and yet the popular press generally ignores these crucial problems.
Because it is a serious book, it is not light reading; you have to stop and think about what Stein is saying. But he explains the ideas clearly and uses effective examples to guide even the novice through all the hidden assumptions in discussions of sexual orientation. I recommend it to anyone interested in thinking critically about these issues.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allegro100 on March 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I recommend this book to everyone I talk to. It's simply outstanding.
Scientists will always seek to order the chaos, and philosophers will always seek to say that chaos can never be fully ordered. One may trim a hedge and box it into a container, but it is always alive, ever changing and growing. The best scientists can hope for is to catalog the waypoints.
I wrote an essay on this subject for a lesbian and gay studies class back in 1997, knowing nothing of postmodernism, and knowing only that I was bi, and didn't seem to fit gender categories either, and was continually frustrated by people's attempts to label me. At the time, I was considered a radical, and my professor sought to discredit all of my anecdotal evidence by saying I was too young to know what I "really" was yet.
That this book exists vindicates me on both a personal and professional level, and I hope will help all the rest of us "freaks" who exist outside the boxes come to terms with the idea that our chaos is the way things are meant to be, and that we should always refuse attempts at being ordered.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Edward Stein is a brilliant philosopher and writer in the best traditions of philosophy: he tries to help us make sense of our most deeply held values and interests. On every page of this book I found something to challenge and provoke my thinking. I predict that it will take some time for the controversial hypotheses and arguments about sexual orientation to become fully assimilated in our collective thinking about these topics, but once they do, they will forever change the terms of our conversations about innateness, choice, identity, sexuality, and value. The world needs more books like this.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By annie (annie.sharp@yale.edu) on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Stein's book is an extremely well-written piece of literature. He manages to discuss issues that are normally excruciatingly difficult to put together logically and does so in layman's terms. Beyond just his ability to speak about the topics of coming out and questioning why we as a society question homosexuality, he really forces the reader to question personal beliefs. Do I understand what it means to come out? Do I believe that homosexuality is essential or constructed? Why? Can I fight the counter arguments? The whole time you don't really no where he stands either. It is a very good overview for the person who is trying to discover what it all means. It will drive you to question yourself and teach you how to argue for what you believe. Anyone who has any questions about homosexuality or what it means to society should read this book. Even if you don't agree with everything he says at least you will think about it first. Also, I really loved the chapter about Zomnia. How silly are own constructions are!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?