Eros and Ethos: A New Theory of Sexual Ethics Kindle Edition
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In general, it's wonderful to finally have a book that systematically examines romantic and sexual ethics from an Aristotelian, eudaimonistic framework, since Aristotle himself didn't say much specifically on that subject in his writings that have come down to us. Some basic and general principles can be gleaned from his discussion of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics, but Stotts carefully and helpfully applies them to the topics of love and sex for us and fills in a lot of gaps. And as a whole, Eros & Ethos fills in a large gap in the literature, and will be appreciated by academics and laypersons alike, as well as those who just want some expert guidance on how to have a better love life, and live a better life in general.
I haven't finished Eros & Ethos yet (I'll try to update this review when I have), but I can already highly recommend it and am planning on buying a paper copy as soon as it's released. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and get the Kindle version in the meantime.
the only book about sex, love, and relationships that I sincerely believe everyone on Earth should read.
Stotts holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and has meticulously researched and sourced this book
only the first volume of three over nearly a decade, and his tireless dedication to uncovering a
satisfactory answer to a universal question is evident. Virtually everyone of dating age has, at some
point in their life, found themselves in a dysfunctional relationship perhaps even a terrible one.
“Where did it all go wrong?” is a question few have never asked themselves, and even fewer seem able
to definitively answer. Eros & Ethos challenges nearly every bit of conventional wisdom regarding
love and sex, instead offering a radically different philosophical base upon which to build increasingly
specific premises you may have never considered or even heard of.
The fundamental question that Eros & Ethos aims to answer is: “What does it mean to live a
good life, and how do my romantic or sexual partners fit into it?” Stotts begins by asserting that the
reason many of us find ourselves in less than ideal relationships over and over is because we've never
identified and integrated the correct answer to the first half of that question, and I wholeheartedly
agree. Nearly everyone wants to live a good life and be a moral person. Unfortunately, there is little
(but not nothing) out there in the way of factbased, provably effective guidance on how to do that.
Stotts goes on to claim that the most common (indeed, nearly the only) ethical precept taught all around
the world that to be moral is to live for others, to be your brother's keeper is in fact not logically
consistent and does not, in reality, lead to happy and healthy lives for human beings. It stands to reason
that if most people don't truly understand how to lead flourishing lives of their own, they will
inevitably find themselves lacking the tools they need to successfully sustain an intimate relationship
with another person.
The book is comprised of seven chapters, the first of which barely even mentions sex or love
and instead focuses on what it means to live a good life. The word “good,” here, is used to mean
several things concurrently successful, happy, and ethical. The Greek word eudaimonia (lit.
“flourishing”) is used to encapsulate this fully integrated concept and appears myriad times throughout
the book. Stotts argues that altruism the belief that to be moral consists of sacrificing or delaying one's
own interests in favor of the interests of others is incompatible with human health and happiness, and
that, properly understood, the better alternative is not rampant hedonism or inconsiderate narcissism,
but rational selfinterest.
Having successfully established that a moral code of rational selfinterest is the only moral code
proper and consistently possible to human beings, Eros & Ethos shifts its focus in the second chapter to
defining and understanding what human emotions are, thereby laying critical groundwork for
subsequent concepts. Chapter three discusses erotic (as opposed to Platonic) love and the tremendous
value it can add to human life when properly that is, nonsacrificially understood and practiced. It is
worth noting that Stotts acknowledges that a healthy sex life can be, but is not necessarily an
indivisible, inseparable component of a committed monogamous relationship; “casual” sex can be
either a positive or a negative practice, depending on the full context of one's life, character, and choice
of specific partners.
Chapter four at last delves into the meat of what a healthy romantic relationship between two
(or more) adults consists of. However, I would strongly advise readers not to skip the previous three chapters just to “get to the good part;” a thorough understanding of their key concepts which are
likely unfamiliar to most people is required in order to integrate the ideas presented in this chapter.
Chapter four primarily discusses the fundamental nature of romantic relationships as opposed to
friendship, as well as healthy implementations of particular relationship paradigms, such as marriage
Chapters five and six deal with attraction, fantasies, fetishes, sexual orientation, sex/gender
roles, arousal, and sexual identity. Some less common types of relationships, such as polyamory, are
also examined and found to be fully compatible with honesty and happiness. Many of Stotts' theories
on these subjects lie far outside mainstream thought, and this is by no means a bad thing. These
chapters make a strong and compelling case: a great deal of what passes for “tried and true” wisdom in
the aforementioned fields is incomplete at best and flatout wrong at worst.
Eros & Ethos' seventh and final chapter is by far the most important one. It is critical for readers
to remember the full scope of this book and its aim: to demonstrate what healthy, successful
relationships look like in the context of an individual life richly lived which is, of course, the only
kind of life worth living, and the only kind of life capable of sustaining great relationships with others.
The last chapter summarizes and broadly integrates each of the core concepts presented in prior
chapters, offering the reader a clearer, deeper understanding of how all the pieces fit together and can
be successfully implemented in your life, right now, today.
I only read Eros & Ethos a few months ago, but have known about, agreed with, and
consistently lived by its principles for most of my adult life, and I can vouch for their veracity
firsthand. I live a eudaimonistic ethic every day, and it has brought me immeasurable success and
happiness in my career, my marriage, and in my friendships. If you truly want to be happy and find
love and believe that you deserve these things but have always struggled, feeling as though
something is amiss, I encourage you to check your premises, all the way down to their foundations.
Perhaps much of what you've been told about love, and about life in general, is wrong. Simply put, a
copy of Eros & Ethos belongs on every bookshelf in the world.