This book is written with as much passion as intelligence.
It discusses such questions as abortion, syphilis, the family, the child, women, and professions for women.
Its motto is: “Human beings must live out their sexuality, otherwise their lives will be warped.”
Accordingly, Wittels lifts up his voice for the liberation of sexuality in the widest sense.
He speaks a language one seldom hears, the language of unsparing, almost fanatical truthfulness, that falls unpleasantly on the ear because it tears away all shams and unmasks all cultural lies.
It is not my business to pass judgment on the author’s morals.
Science has only to listen to this voice and tacitly admit that it is not a lone voice crying in the wilderness, that it could be a leader for many who are setting out on this path, that we have here a movement rising from invisible sources and swelling into a mightier current every day.
Science has to test and weigh the evidence—and understand it.
The book is dedicated to Freud and much of it is based on Freud’s psychology, which is in essence the scientific rationalization of this contemporary movement.
For the social psychologist the movement is and remains an intellectual problem, while for the social moralist it is a challenge.
Wittels meets this challenge in his own way, others do so in theirs.
We should listen to them all.
Nowhere is the warning more in place that on the one hand we should refrain from enthusiastic applause, and on the other not kick against the pricks in blind rage.
We have to realize, quite dispassionately, that whatever we fight about in the outside world is also a battle in our inner selves.
In the end we have to admit that mankind is not just an accumulation of individuals utterly different from one another, but possesses such a high degree of psychological collectivity that in comparison the individual appears as merely a slight variant.
How shall we judge this matter fairly if we cannot admit that it is also our own problem?
Anyone who can admit this will first seek the solution in himself.
This, in fact, is the way all great solutions begin.
Most people, however, seem to have a secret love of voyeurism; they gaze at the contestants as though they were watching a circus, wanting to decide immediately who is finally right or wrong.
But anyone who has learnt to examine the background of his own thoughts and actions, and has acquired a lasting and salutary impression of the way our unconscious biological impulses warp our logic, will soon lose his delight in gladiatorial shows and public disputation, and will perform them in himself and with himself.
In that way we preserve a perspective that is particularly needful in an age when Nietzsche arose as a significant portent.
Wittels will surely not remain alone; he is only the first of many who will come up with “ethical” conclusions from the mine of Freud’s truly biological psychology—conclusions that will shake to the marrow what was previously considered “good.”
As a French wit once remarked, of all inventors moralists have the hardest lot, since their innovations can only be immoralities.
This is absurd and at the same time sad, as it shows how out of date our conception of morality has become.
It lacks the very best thing that modern thought has accomplished: a biological and historical consciousness.
This lack of adaptation must sooner or later bring about its fall, and nothing can stop this fall.
And here I am reminded of the wise words of Anatole France: “And, although the past is there to point out to them ever-changing and shifting rights and duties, they would look upon themselves as dupes were they to foresee that future humanity is to create for itself new rights, duties and gods.
Finally, they fear disgracing themselves in the eyes of their contemporaries, in assuming the horrible immorality which future morality stands for.
Such are the obstacles to a quest of the future.”
The danger of our old-fashioned conception of morality is that it blinkers our eyes to innovations which, however fitting they may be, always carry with them the odium of immorality.
But it is just here that our eyes should be clear and far-seeing.
The movement I spoke of, the urge to reform sexual morality, is not the invention of a few cranky somnambulists but has all the impact of a force of nature.
No arguments or quibbles about the raison d’etre of morality are any use here ; we have to accept what is most intelligent and make the best of it.
This means tough and dirty work.
Wittels’ book gives a foretaste of what is to come, and it will shock and frighten many people.
The long shadow of this fright will naturally fall on Freudian psychology, which will be accused of being a hotbed of iniquity.
To anticipate this I would like to say a word in its defence now.
Our psychology is a science that can at most be accused of having discovered the dynamite terrorists work with.
What the moralist and general practitioner do with it is none of our business, and we have no intention of interfering.
Plenty of unqualified persons are sure to push their way in and commit the greatest follies, but that too does not concern us.
Our aim is simply and solely scientific knowledge, and we do not have to bother with the uproar it has provoked.
If religion and morality are blown to pieces in the process, so much the worse for them for not having more stamina.
Knowledge is a force of nature that goes its way irresistibly from inner necessity.
There can be no hushing up and no compromises, only unqualified acceptance.
This knowledge is not to be identified with the changing views of the ordinary medical man, for which reason it cannot be judged by moral criteria.
This has to be said out loud, because today there are still people claiming to be scientific who extend their moral misgivings even to scientific insights.
Like every proper science, psychoanalysis is beyond morality; it rationalizes the unconscious and so fits the previously autonomous and unconscious instinctual forces into the psychic economy.
The difference between the position before and afterwards is that the person in question now really wants to be what he is and to leave nothing to the blind dispensation of the unconscious.
The objection that immediately arises, that the world would then get out of joint, must be answered first and foremost by psychoanalysis ; it has the last word, but only in the privacy of the consulting room, because this fear is an individual fear.
It is sufficient that the goal of psychoanalysis is a psychic state in which “you ought” and “you must” are replaced by “I will,” so that, as Nietzsche says, a man becomes master not only of his vices but also of his virtues.
Inasmuch as psychoanalysis is purely rational—and it is so of its very nature—it is neither moral nor antimoral and gives neither prescriptions nor any other “you oughts.”
Undoubtedly the tremendous need of the masses to be led will force many people to abandon the standpoint of the psychoanalyst and to start “prescribing.”
One person will prescribe morality, another licentiousness.
Both of them cater to the masses and both follow the currents that drive the masses hither and thither.
Science stands above all this and lends the strength of its armour to Christian and anti-Christian alike.
It has no confessional axe to grind.
I have never yet read a book on the sexual question that demolishes present-day morality so harshly and unmercifully and yet remains in essentials so true.
For this reason Winds’ book deserves to be read, but so do many others that deal with the same question, for the important thing is not the individual book but the problem common to them all. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 393-396