From the Greek word meaning "love of wisdom or knowledge," the definition of philosophy has varied over the ages. It includes logic, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics–and formerly comprised physics, cosmology, and psychology as well. Concepts from India, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, if not yet from China, influenced the Greeks. Greek philosophy itself–like its close ally Greek science under the Ionian physicists–began in Ionia, on the coastal fringes of Anatolia, just when pederasty was introduced there and to the Ionian islands from Crete and Sparta, and intellectualized to provide each beloved boy a loving inspirer.
The Pre-Socratics. From the time of Thales of Miletus (flourished ca. 585 B.C.) Western philosophy has its own distinct history; however, many foreign influences may be traced, from the neo-Platonists down to Schopenhauer and even the New Left. Although Western philosophy embraces, as do the others, materialism and idealism, atheism and pantheism, monism and dualism, pragmatism and mysticism, it adheres more strictly to logic as developed by pederasts in late archaic and classical Greece.
The Ionians conceived nature as operating in a non-mythological, impersonal manner. Reflecting the maritime setting of Greece, Thales thought water the basic element, which Anaximander expanded to air, earth, fire, and water. The Persian conquests ended such speculations and apparently also finished institutionalized pederasty, as when the conquerors crucified Polycrates of Samos in 521, with the consequent flight of the pederastic poets Ibycus and Anacreon who had been drawn to his court.
Having already fled Polycrates' tyranny, Pythagoras returned to Southern Italy ca. 530 and founded his brotherhood at Croton, something between a college and a cloister, being pederastic, stressing form rather than matter. Study of music taught him the value of proportions and the necessity of numbers, often conceived geometrically. The correct proportions of hot and cold, wet and dry became fundamental to medicine.
Another refugee from Ionia, Xenophanes of Colophon, who attacked Homer and Hesiod for their anthropomorphic conceptions of theimmortals, founded the Eleatic school at Elea in southern Italy, the first metaphysical school: "But if oxen or horses had hands, oxen would make gods like oxen and horses would make gods like horses." His eromenos (beloved) Parmenides of Elea (d. ca. 480) regarded the cosmos as eternal, uncreated, and imperishable. Zeno of Elis (d. ca. 420) contradicted the Pythagorean notion of multiplicity, arguing instead by paradoxes for monism. Heraclitus (ca. 540-475 B.C.) saw fire as the primary element: "This one order of all things was created by none of the gods" but is always changing and always moving. Anaxagoras (d. 428) believed that "intelligcnce" and "reason" had brought order out of chaos in the universe, a theory adopted by Aristotle. Empedocles of Agrigentum proposed two principles, love and hate or attraction and repulsion, which organized the four elements. The atomists opposing the Eleatic concept of reality as an immutable static one, culminated in Democritus (d. 370), whose mechanistic explanations of a materialistic universe underlay the Epicurean school.
The significance of these advances in philosophy is that they broke decisively with the notion of a universe created by the gods, presumed by late Babylonian cosmology, that furnished the starting point for Greek philosophical and scientific speculations. But incorporated into Gencsis and the other books of the Old Testament, this Semitic mythology, albeit in a monotheistic guise, became the patrimony of all three Abrahamic religions. The incompatibility between the divinely created universe of these revealed faiths and the mechanistic model of the cosmos, which evolved into the world picture of modern physics and astronomy, predetermined the conflict between religion and science that reached its peak in the late nineteenth century and still echoes in the antagonism between the Judeo-Christian tradition and the secular ideals of the gay liberation movement a hundred years later.
The Golden Age. After defeating the Persians in 480, the confident Greeks accelerated the building of their unique culture, with greater material wealth and more democracy, and with Athens as the center of commerce and innovation. Knowledge was sought as a good in itself as well as a way to win trials and public office. Sophists, "wise men," lectured for fees. Often in the gymnasia, Protagoras, Georgias, Hippias, and Prodicus taught debating skills, how to make the best of even a bad case and how to defend lost causes or strange and even absurd theories. As the conservative Aristophanes lamented, they could "make the better seem the worse case," demoralizing some Athenian youths and bringing into question established norms and ethics. Protagoras proclaimed: "Man is the measure of all things," denying universally valid knowledge.
Regarded by some of his contemporaries as a sophist, Socrates like them educated the young by dialectic, proving that the "experts" knew as little as he about ethics, but he did believe in the possibility of discovering truth through the inductive method of elimination of falsehood by constant questioning. No man knowing good would do evil. Sticking to his guns he was condemned to death by an Athenian jury in 399, the first martyr to philosophy, accused of "corrupting the youth and questioning the existence of thegods." His protégé Alcibiades had betrayed Athens to Sparta, and another disciple Critias had tyrannized Athens as one of the "Thirty Tyrants" installed by the Spartans from 404 to 403, when they were expelled and the democracy Socrates so criticized restored.
The most important of Socrates' disciples was Plato, who met him at the age of 20. After the master's death he traveled to Italy, where he encountered the Pythagoreans. He opened his school, whose elitism reflected the Pythagorean brotherhood and like it encouraged "love"–at least male bonding-among members. The Academy, in Athens in 387, had inscribed on the doorway "Let no one who knows no geometry come under my roof," echoing the Pythagorean emphasis on harmony. He adapted Heraclitus' belief that all matter is in constant flux, unknowable, hence one may only formulate opinions about it. Plato changed his views during his long life, repudiating in the Laws, his last work, many of his earlier, more open principles, including pederasty. His earlier dialogues, masterpieces of style almost like the dramas so popular at Athens since Aeschylus, reflect opinions then discussed at symposia and gymnasia. Aristotle was Plato's most important pupil. Even in the imperfect form in which we have them, often as notes taken by students, his treatises articulate every branch of philosophy, gathering up more systematically and comprehensively than Plato all the best arguments of the predecessors. Having studied twenty years in Plato's Academy, he founded after travels abroad his own school, the Lyceum. He was more realistic and empirical than his master. A biologist, Aristotle emphasized becoming from potential to actual, from seed to final form, more teleologically than Plato, the geometrician concerned rather with eternally static truth. In his "scale of nature" things were ranked, the highest being God, the unmoved mover who induced preexisting matter to develop its potentialities by taking on higher forms. Not hailing from the pederastic high society of Athens, as Plato did, but from the provincial bourgeoisie, Aristotle was less inspired by the pederastic lyrics of Ibycus, Anacreon, Theognis, and Pindar, and being more biologically oriented, felt that pedcrasty, natural to some, was a vice acquired by others and limited the teleological potential of reproduction. But pedagogy in Greece, since the late Archaic Age, rested on pederasty, which flourished among philosophers, many of whom broke the taboo that made marriage almost mandatory for the upper class: Plato, Diogenes the Cynic, and all the early Stoics. The latter kept eromenoi to the age of 28, at least a decade after the eromenoi were customarily abandoned.
Later Greek Philosophy and Rome. The troubles and tyranny that ensued after Philip of Macedon conquered Epaminondas of Thebes at Chaeronea in 338 rendered people more anxious for individual ethical guidance, upon which Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics, three principal schools concentrated. The Epicureans valued knowledge only for its usefulness. Knowledge of nature emancipates man from superstition and baseless fear and study of human nature aids in self-control. They preferred Democritus' mechanistic materialism to the idealism and teleology of both Plato and Aristotle. Even the soulwas composed of atoms "hence those who call the soul incorporeal talk foolishly." In late republican Rome Lucretius (d. 55 B.C.) composed On the Nature of Things, the classic account, to preserve their teaching. It was neglected and even banned by Christians who disapproved of the hedonism the Epicureans had adopted frcm the Cyrenaics, although they ranked mental pleasures, especially those deriving from the practcie of virtue, higher than any others. Likewise denying the intrinsic value of knowledge, Zeno of Citium and the Stoics valued it only as it aided virtue. They substituted "body and soul" for the Aristotelian "matter and form." Reason providentially directs the organic universe by natural law, leaving noroom for chance, or Tyche, so dear to their Epicurean rivals. Life should conform to a pantheistic nature. Rational self-control, the only good, rendered one free of external forces and hence content. Appealing to old-fashioned Romans like the Catos, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius, these trends tended to uphold the mos rnaiomm, the ancestral peasant customs which stood against the degeneracy of the Hellenizing gilded youth exemplified in Lucullus, Sulla, and Caesar in the Republic, all of whom employed Epicureanism to justify hedonism. In the Empire Caligula used Epicureanism to rationalize his extreme excesses such that he helped to discredit it. Stoicism was used by Christian Fathers, especially after Clement of Alexandria who set the fashion, but Patristic literature everywhere reveals merely superficial borrowing to shore up an anti-rational, anti-sexual mystery religion influenced by Gnosticism.
Unlike Stoics and Epicureans, Pyrrho and other Skeptics stressed epistemology, asserting that things cannot be calculatcd or accounted for sufficiently to warrant any conviction whatever. By renouncing attempts to acquire knowledge onc might attain peace of mind. Not one of these pagan philosophers failed to practice pederasty, except perhaps Musonius Rufus (ca. A.D. 30-101), the only one to condcmn it in his writings–if one excepts the Laws, the last of Plato's dialogues, which so contradicts the Phaedrus and the Symposium, where he had Eros alone excite knowledge and virtue.
The Confluence of Judaic and Platonic Trends. The Macedonian conquests had thrown the Greeks together with other ethnicgroups in the Hellenistic monarchies, malting them more cosmopolitan, especially in Alexandria, which replaced Athens as the intellectual center, and its rivals Antioch, Seleucia, Pergamon, and Beirut (Berytus), all of which created libraries, schools, gymnasia, and symposia, all of which fostered pederasty. But the Jews, especially numerous in Alexandria, felt scandalized. Chief of a learned group of Jews seeking in the early decades of the first century to harmonize the Bible, allegorically interpreted, with reason, Philo Judaeus combined this religion with Platonism, the most religious of the Greek philosophies. This line of thought formed a school known as neo-Platonic under Plotinus (d. 270), who proclaimed God the ultimate source, who created the Spirit who crcatcd the world-soul and so forth on down to the lower kind of material things. Thus creation emanates from God. Asceticism and mysticism can help the soul escape from its body after a series of successive goals. Adapted to support paganism, neo-Platonism encouraged polytheism and credulity in spirits and spectres, giving paganism a new lease on life and criticizing Christianity's exaggeration of man's place in the universe and the efficacy of prayerwithout work. Julian the Apostate (r. 361-363) revived neo-Platonism in his losing struggle against Christianity.
Patristic Thinkers. Moralists now determined right conduct from Scripture as jurisconsults interpreted a law code, with ultimate sanctions in the next world and immediate ones in this by penance or excommunication so that canon law evolved along Jewish models. Christians substituted faith and love for knowledge and wisdom as sources of virtue, giving ethics a theological instead of a philosophical base, an arbitrary, inscrutable law, and an aversion to impurity regarded as a defilement. Deriving more from Plato, neo-Platonists, and Stoics than from the Ionians, Aristotle, Skeptics, and Epicureans (the last being their bête noire), the fathers of the Church were more theologians than philosophers. Patristic writers from the second to the seventh century warned against the philosophical schools which Justianian closed in 529, ending both the Academy and the Lyceum which had flourished in Athens for almost a millennium.
Although Clement of Alexandria began borrowing phrases from pagan philosophers, St. Jerome, far more educated and brilliant, released the incompatibility between Athens and Jerusalem. Extreme intolerance, however, began with Theodosius the Great (r. 379-395), who banned rival religions and reiterated the death penalty against sodomites prescribed by the sons of Constantine the Great in 342. Whereas Anaxagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle had been persecuted for their hostility to popular religion, philosophy now became the handmaiden of religion. The authority of the Book and of tradition subordinated Western philosophy throughout the Middle Ages to religion in Christianity as in Judaism and Islam. When these Abrahamic religionists of the Book did not denounce or ignore philosophy, they fitted bits and pieces of it borrowed from Greek and Roman writers into a mosaic to buttress the "true faith." Around 400 St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine absorbed into Christianity the asceticism of the desert fathers and the goals of monasticism, making blind faith in inscrutable providence the guide for the chaste hermit.
The Middle Ages. In the early Middle Ages that descended on the Latin West after Pope Gregory the Great (r. 590-604), nothing worthy of the name philosophy was composed in Latin. Penitentials and the beginnings of canon law reflect the absence of analysis even during the "Renaissance" under the Carolingians (751-887), when Alcuin, head of Charlemagne's cathedral school, and John Scotus Eriugena actually attempted philosophy. But the triple invasions of the ninth and tenth centuries, by Saracens, Magyars, and Northmen, swept away almost all of the cathedral schools the great Charlemagne had ordered every bishop to establish.
After 1000 invasions ceased, Scandinavians, Magyars, and Slavs converted to Christianity, and Europe revived. Teaching the seven liberal arts divided into trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), the doctores scholastici also broached philosophy in the revived cathedral schools more than did their rivals in the monastic schools, the mainstay of the early Middle Ages. Out of these and municipal schools–stronger in Italy, where trade had never as completely declined and sooner revived than in the north–there grew during the twelfth century the universities of Paris and Bologna, which dispute primacy. Paris soon sent offshoots to Oxford and Cambridge, which also claim twelfth-century origins, while Bologna branched out to Padua, Naples, and Salamanca. The university as an institution of higher learning was created in Europe by the Roman Catholic Church; the Byzantine and Islamic cultural spheres produced nothing comparable in the way of a hierarchical course of instruction with examinations leading to ever higher academic degrees. The University of Nalanda in India taught Buddhist philosophy throughout the first millennium, but was unknown in Europe.
During the Renaissance of the twelfth century ideas flowed into Catholic Europe from Spain and other Muslim lands, often through Jewish translators. While Christians languished in ignorance and proscribed homosexuality, Muslims kept philosophy (and pederasty) alive: al-Kindi (d. 8701, Alfarabi (d. 950), Avicenna of Baghdad (d. 1037), and Averroes of Cordoba (d. 1198)–knowing nearly all of Aristotle's and several of Plato's extant works. Avicenna struggled to relate universals to particulars and Averroes, most Aristotelian of the Moslems, asserted the eternity of matter against the creation myth of the Koran, claiming that the soul died with the body but that man's immortal reason rejoined after his death the universal "active reason." In Spain the kingdom of Granada long served as a bridge to western Christendom.
The two principal texts of Jewish mystical teaching, the Kabbala, were completed in Muslim lands: the Book of Creation ca. 900 and the Zohar (The Shining Light) in 1290. Alongside such speculations, sensual philosophy influenced by Plato and Aristotle as well as by Alexandrians such as Philo appeared, especially in Cordoba and Toledo, but also in Baghdad and Cairo between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries, when tolerated Jews flourished in a Muslim world then at its intellectual zenith: Maimonides (d. 1204), Gersonides (d. 1344), and Crescas (d. 1410). Like the Muslims they influenced the scholastics directly and through theirtranslations of the Greek philosophers from Arabic into Latin. Doctrines absorbed by the scholastics, such as the Latin Averroists combatted at Paris by Thomas Aquinas, made the universities rivals in disputes between Franciscans and Dominicans and between them and the secular hotbeds of heresy, as well as foci of the dogmatic orthodoxy imposed by the Inyuisition. Other "students" often wandering from university to university preferred the wine, women, and song celebrated in the Coliardic poems.
Gerbert of Aurillac, pope from 999 to 1002, who had imbibed deeply of Moslem learning in Spain and had made the cathedral school at Reims preeminent when archbishop there, may have begun scholastic thought by emphasizing that reason can aid faith. St. Anselm, promoted from Abbot of Bec in Normandy to Archbishop of Canterbury in 1110, tecommended light penalties, especially for young sodomitical clerks in opposition to the growing homophobia fanned by Peter Damian. As a philosopher Anselm logically explained why God became man (Cur deus homo).
From the start scholasticism at the medicval schools and universities was tainted with undercurrents of heresy, heterodoxy, sexual license, sorcery, and homosexuality. Clerics all, most in minor orders, students and faculty were forbidden to marry, a tradition abolished only by the French Revolution but continued at Cambridgeand Oxford until 1877, at least for the dons. Some students entered the universities as early as the tender age of 13, since their curriculum overlapped with that of the modern preparatory school. The public schools like Eton and Harrow where rich boys came to be prepared for the universities in the later Middle Ages on the models of the Italian theorists Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino da Verona eventually also became hotbeds of pederasty. Renaissance and Reformation. Unlike the ancient Greeks, medieval Western man subordinated thought to authority. Scholars fleeing the sack of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 brought manuscripts with them to Italy where, since affirming its independence from Milan in 1402, Florence had exuberantly developed its arts, ideas, and democracy, initiating the Italian Renaissance. Already devoted to the later classics, Florentines eagerly studied the Greek originals that lay behind their cherished Latin imitations. At the suggestion of the Greek exile Pletho, Cosimo de' Medici founded the Platonic Academy in Florence. There Marsilio Ficino with the help of Pico della Mirandola helped to revive Platonic and neo-Platonic philosophy, undermining the Aristotelianism of the scholastics, while Lorenzo Valla criticized their poor literary form. Paracelsus and Jan Baptista van Helmont denounced "authority" as a source for knowledge of nature and Bernardino Telesio's academy at Naples studied nature scientifically. Although Giordano Bruno, who was burned by the Inquisition in 1600, has been hailed as a forerunner of modem skepticism, recent research has shown that he was deeply involved in the hermetic (magical) tradition–illustrating the complex interplay of science and speculation in that period. Montaigne and Tomás Sánchez pleaded for toleration, skeptically attacking dogmatism. The Renaissance was more given to poetry than to philosophy, which was in any case soon threatened by the Protestant and Catholic Reformations.
The Protestants were as hostile to secular philosophy as to sodomy. Luther dubbed reason the devil's mistress. John Calvin condemned Michael Servetus to thc flames in 1553. Ulrich Zwingli was only a bit more reasonable. But the terrible quarrels, mutual denunciations, persecutions, tortures, and religious wars helped to undermine Christian authority. Sir Francis Bacon is credited with heralding modern science, though like Bruno he was sensitive to the hermetic tradition.
Early Modern Philosophy. Hostile to scholastic dependence upon authority, RenC Descartes (1596–1650) posed instead themathematicalmethod by which one reasoned by axioms as in geometry deductively to unchallengeable conclusions. Like Augustine, he found that the only thing that could not be questioned was existence of his own doubt. "It is easy to suppose that there is no God, no heaven, no bodies. . . . I think, therefore1 am." Like his contemporary Galileo, who was silenced by the Inquisition, Descartes explained natural phenomena mechanically. At the end of his life he became an adviser to Queen Christina of Sweden, whom he may have subtly counseled to understand her erotic proclivities.
In the Netherlands, Benedict Spinoza (1632–1677) also vindicated reason against every typeof authority, including the scriptures. He set in motion the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament that was ultimately to discredit the Mosaic Law as a supposed "revelation" made by God on Mount Sinai and therefore eternally binding upon mankind. His pantheism appealed to "Deus sive Natura," bringing the Renaissance love of nature to a culmination as opposed to the characteristic medieval Christian equation of "the world, the flesh, and the devil." Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716) denied the reality of matter, which can be infinitely divided into an infinity of monads which God had created. Thus each had an end as in medieval teleology: "The best of all possible worlds." He also conceived of "infinitely minute sensations" inaccessible to consciousness in the way that microscopic phenomena were invisible to the naked eye, and so adumbrated the concept of the unconscious (discussed in Buddhist philosophies in India two millennia previously) that beginning with Sigmund Freud would play an enormous role in the discussion of sexual psychology and of the determinants of homosexuality.
The Enlightenment. In 1690 John Locke (1632–1704) revolutionized Western epistemology with his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, rejecting innate ideas and tracing all mental activity to experience. Each man was convinced of his own and God's existence. Pushing Locke's theories to the extreme, Hume advocated skepticism in philosophy and positivism in science. He rejected mental substances and mental causes. He reduced even mathematical knowledge from certainty to mere probability.
British skepticism helped inspire the French philosophes who had begun with Pierre Bayle and Bernard Fontenelle to disprove miracles and denigrate the church, and to criticize monarchy as well as all other established institutions and received morality. Montesquieu (1689–1755) offered a subtle new interpretation of the European legal tradition. In his Persian Letters (1721) he laid the groundwork for a criticism of Western civilization from an exotic point of view, an idea subsequently pursued by Diderot. In a tireless stream of polemical and imaginative works, Voltaire attacked abuses of church and state, including the persecution of sodomites. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), amore ambiguous figure, has sometimes been regarded as a forerunner of modern totalitarianism. The most radical offshoot of the French Enlightenment was the bisexual Marquis de Sade, who anticipated Nietzsche and other modern nihilists.
German Idealism and After. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)) the founder of transcendental idealism, denigrated all his predecessors as dogmatic philosophers. He sought to prove the a priori existence of pure reason. While in ethics Kant is best known for his "categorical imperative," the belief that each person should act as if his own conduct were a universal rule, he also set forth the bases of the modern critique of sexual objectification, for he held that sexual relations should be a matter of two loving persons and not just bodies.
Founding a logical idealism, G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831)–who like Plato elaborated a philosophy of the state–insisted that the whole universe "can be penetrated by thought." He also held that "the real is the rational and the rational is the real." The philosopher's followers divided into Right and Left Hegelians; among the latter were Marx and Engels, so that indirectly Hegel came to have a great influence on political radicalism. Marxism was also affected by the revival of Enlightenment materialism that tookplace in the middle of the nineteenth century. Associated with "voluntarism" and "pessimism," Arthur Schopenhauer identified rcality with an irrational will. Hc advocated a kind of neo-Buddhist principle of renunciation. Unmarriedlikemany major philosophers, Schopenhauer offered perceptive remarks on pederasty (which he docs not seem, however, to have practiced]. His sexual ethic began a separation of erotic expression from procreation that was to be carried further by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900). The radical skepticism expressed with biting irony by Nietzsche was to prove a corrosive solvent of many seeming certainties that had bolstered established institutions. Often banishcd to thc outer margins of professional philosophy, his writings have shown remarkable staying power, influencing Michcl Foucault in the 1970s.
Pragmatism and Positivism. Following Locke and his empiricist predecessors, English and French philosophy diverged in the nineteenth century from German thought which, as has been seen, flowed from Kant. Jeremy Bentham went from the public school of Westminster to Oxford, where he was hazed for lack of robust manliness. He derived his principle of utilitarianism, especially the so-called "felicific calculus" (the greatest good of the greatest number) from the Italian reformer Count Beccaria. Bentham did not dare to publish his papers recommending the decriminalization of sodomy during his own lifetime (they began to appear only in 1931).
The creator of positivism, Auguste Comte (1798–1857) thought, like the British empiricists, that knowledge was acquirable only by observation and experience, but agreed with Kant that the ultimate principles were unknowable. Generally regarded as the founder of sociology, Comteemphasized humanimprovement through the application of ostensibly objective social laws. One of a number of thinkers sometimes known as the "prophets of Paris," hisideasabout society have been ambiguous in their relation to sexual variation since they tend to emphasize uniformity and universality, rather than pluralism. However, Comte's eccentric contemporary Charles Fourier did not hesitate to include both lesbianism and male homosexuality in his Phalansteries, utopian cells ofa new society. Son of Bentham's friend James Mill, John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), who may be called a positivist, empirically stressed logic, utilitarian ethics, liberal politics, and laissez-faire approach to economics (which he derived from Adam Smith). His On Liberty (1859) sets forth the most eloquent defense of freedom of speech that has ever been devised, and has proved of enormous value in combatting censorship of both political and erotic materials.
Twentieth-Century Philosophy. Idealism, in the form of Hegelianism, lingered in Britain and North America in the early years of the century. Related to this trend are the individualist works of George Santayana, which are today read more for their literary qualities than for their technical acuteness.
A break with the idealist tradition was signaled by the Cambridge thinker, G. E. Moore (1873–1958), who though not himself homosexual was widely influential on several prominent gay men in the Apostles group, who then went to shine in Bloomsbury. Also a student at Cambridge was Ludwig Wittgenstein, who is arguably the most influential thinker of the twentieth century. His followers, fearing damage to his reputation, continue to deny Wittgenstein's homosexuality, but it is well established.
Although it has earlier roots in such thinkers as Kierkegaard and Husserl, existentialismis generally associated with the Frenchman Jean-Paul Sartre, who was also active as a novelist and political polemicist. An atheist, Sartre held that existence precedes essence, and that we are therefore radically challenged to embrace the freedom that is inherent in our situation. Although he seems never to have had a homosexual experience, Sartre was familiar with gay men and women through his left-bank circle in Paris, and included them in his overall concern with marginalized groups.
In Britain and America at mid-century the most visible philosophers adopted the austere credo of "analysis," which excluded most traditional themes from its purview. By about 1970, however, philosophers began to descend from the mountaintop to address themes of lile and death, human destiny, and moral dilemmas. Such topics as capital punishment, abortion, incest, and homosexuality became accepted–at least in some academic philosophy departments. Feminism also made a strong impact, and women philosophers began to address what they held were the distortions of androcentric thought. It was even debated whether men and women might have fundamentally different styles of thinking that admit of no common denominator. Other thinkers, especialy such neo-Marxists as Herbert Marcuse and Louis Althusser, addressed questions of political theory. All these currents came to have a considerable, though indirect, influence on the ideas of gay liberation.
Robert Baker and Frederick Elliston, ed., Philosophy and Sex, second ed., Buffalo: Prometheus, 1984; Vern L. Bullough, Sexual Variance in Society and History, New York: Wiley-Interscience, 1976; Laurence J. Rorán, "Philosophies of Homophobia and Homophilia," in The Gay Academic, L. Crew, ed., Palm Springs: ETC, 1978, pp. 255-81; Alan Soble, ed., Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, Totowa, NJ: Littlefield and Adams, 1980.
William A. Percy