Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 4

Havelock Ellis
Studies in the Psychology of Sex,
Volume 4

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Volume 4
(of 6), by Havelock Ellis
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Title: Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 4 (of 6)
Author: Havelock Ellis
Release Date: October 8, 2004 [eBook #13613]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland and the Project Gutenberg Online
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Sexual Selection In Man I. Touch. Ii. Smell. Iii. Hearing. Iv. Vision.

As in many other of these Studies, and perhaps more than in most, the
task attempted in the present volume is mainly of a tentative and
preliminary character. There is here little scope yet for the presentation
of definite scientific results. However it may be in the physical universe,
in the cosmos of science our knowledge must be nebulous before it
constellates into definitely measurable shapes, and nothing is gained by
attempting to anticipate the evolutionary process. Thus it is that here,
for the most part, we have to content ourselves at present with the task
of mapping out the field in broad and general outlines, bringing
together the facts and considerations which indicate the direction in
which more extended and precise results will in the future be probably
In his famous Descent of Man, wherein he first set forth the doctrine of
sexual selection, Darwin injured an essentially sound principle by
introducing into it a psychological confusion whereby the physiological
sensory stimuli through which sexual selection operates were regarded
as equivalent to æsthetic preferences. This confusion misled many, and
it is only within recent years (as has been set forth in the "Analysis of
the Sexual Impulse" in the previous volume of these _Studies_) that the
investigations and criticisms of numerous workers have placed the
doctrine of sexual selection on a firm basis by eliminating its hazardous
æsthetic element. Love springs up as a response to a number of stimuli
to tumescence, the object that most adequately arouses tumescence
being that which evokes love; the question of æsthetic beauty, although

it develops on this basis, is not itself fundamental and need not even be
consciously present at all. When we look at these phenomena in their
broadest biological aspects, love is only to a limited extent a response
to beauty; to a greater extent beauty is simply a name for the
complexus of stimuli which most adequately arouses love. If we
analyze these stimuli to tumescence as they proceed from a person of
the opposite sex we find that they are all appeals which must come
through the channels of four senses: touch, smell, hearing, and, above
all, vision. When a man or a woman experiences sexual love for one
particular person from among the multitude by which he or she is
surrounded, this is due to the influences of a group of stimuli coming
through the channels of one or more of these senses. There has been a
sexual selection conditioned by sensory stimuli. This is true even of the
finer and more spiritual influences that proceed from one person to
another, although, in order to grasp the phenomena adequately, it is
best to insist on the more fundamental and less complex forms which
they assume. In this sense sexual selection is no longer a hypothesis
concerning the truth of which it is possible to dispute; it is a
self-evident fact. The difficulty is not as to its existence, but as to the
methods by which it may be most precisely measured. It is
fundamentally a psychological process, and should be approached from
the psychological side. This is the reason for dealing with it here.
Obscure as the psychological aspects of sexual selection still remain,
they are full of fascination, for they reveal to us the more intimate sides
of human evolution, of the process whereby man is molded into the
shapes we know.
Carbis Water,
Lelant, Cornwall, England.


The External Sensory Stimuli Affecting Selection in Man. The Four
Senses Involved.
The Primitive Character of the Skin. Its Qualities. Touch the Earliest
Source of Sensory Pleasure. The Characteristics of Touch. As the
Alpha and Omega of Affection. The Sexual Organs a Special
Adaptation of Touch. Sexual Attraction as Originated by Touch. Sexual
Hyperæsthesia to Touch. The Sexual Associations of Acne.
Ticklishness. Its Origin and Significance.
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