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Table of contents
PREFACE
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.1
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.2
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.3
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.4
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.4
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.6
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.7
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.8
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.9
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.10
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.11
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.4
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.1
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.2
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.3
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.1
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.2
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.3
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.5
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.6
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.1
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.2
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.3
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.4
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.5
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.6
PROSTITUTION-7.1
PROSTITUTION-7.2
PROSTITUTION-7.3
PROSTITUTION-7.4
PROSTITUTION-7.5
PROSTITUTION-7.6
PROSTITUTION-7.7
PROSTITUTION-7.8
PROSTITUTION-7.9
PROSTITUTION-7.10
PROSTITUTION-7.11
PROSTITUTION-7.12
PROSTITUTION-7.13
PROSTITUTION-7.14
PROSTITUTION-7.15
FOOTNOTES-1
FOOTNOTES-2

 

 

Up to this point I have been considering the quality of chastity and the 

quality of asceticism in their most general sense and without any attempt 

at precise differentiation.[91] But if we are to accept these as modern 

virtues, valid to-day, it is necessary that we should be somewhat more 

precise in defining them. It seems most convenient, and most strictly 

accordant also with etymology, if we agree to mean by asceticism or 

_ascesis_, the athlete quality of self-discipline, controlling, by no 

means necessarily for indefinitely prolonged periods, the gratification of 

the sexual impulse. By chastity, which is primarily the quality of purity, 

and secondarily that of holiness, rather than of abstinence, we may best 

understand a due proportion between erotic claims and the other claims of 

life. "Chastity," as Ellen Key well says, "is harmony between body and 

soul in relation to love." Thus comprehended, asceticism is the virtue of 

control that leads up to erotic gratification, and chastity is the virtue 

which exerts its harmonizing influence in the erotic life itself. 

 

It will be seen that asceticism by no means necessarily involves perpetual 

continence. Properly understood, asceticism is a discipline, a training, 

which has reference to an end not itself. If it is compulsorily perpetual, 

whether at the dictates of a religious dogma, or as a mere fetish, it is 

no longer on a natural basis, and it is no longer moral, for the restraint 

of a man who has spent his whole life in a prison is of no value for life. 

If it is to be natural and to be moral asceticism must have an end outside 

itself, it must subserve the ends of vital activity, which cannot be 

subserved by a person who is engaged in a perpetual struggle with his own 

natural instincts. A man may, indeed, as a matter of taste or preference, 

live his whole life in sexual abstinence, freely and easily, but in that 

case he is not an ascetic, and his abstinence is neither a subject for 

applause nor for criticism. 

 

In the same way chastity, far from involving sexual abstinence, only has 

its value when it is brought within the erotic sphere. A purity that is 

ignorance, when the age of childish innocence is once passed, is mere 

stupidity; it is nearer to vice than to virtue. Nor is purity consonant 

with effort and struggle; in that respect it differs from asceticism. "We 

conquer the bondage of sex," Rosa Mayreder says, "by acceptance, not by 

denials, and men can only do this with the help of women." The would-be 

chastity of cold calculation is equally unbeautiful and unreal, and 

without any sort of value. A true and worthy chastity can only be 

supported by an ardent ideal, whether, as among the early Christians, this 

is the erotic ideal of a new romance, or, as among ourselves, a more 

humanly erotic ideal. "Only erotic idealism," says Ellen Key, "can arouse 

enthusiasm for chastity." Chastity in a healthily developed person can 

thus be beautifully exercised only in the actual erotic life; in part it 

is the natural instinct of dignity and temperance; in part it is the art 

of touching the things of sex with hands that remember their aptness for 

all the fine ends of life. Upon the doorway of entrance to the inmost 

sanctuary of love there is thus the same inscription as on the doorway to 

the Epidaurian Sanctuary of Aesculapius: "None but the pure shall enter 

here." 

 

It will be seen that the definition of chastity remains somewhat 

lacking in precision. That is inevitable. We cannot grasp purity 

tightly, for, like snow, it will merely melt in our hands. 

"Purity itself forbids too minute a system of rules for the 

observance of purity," well says Sidgwick (_Methods of Ethics_, 


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