Walter Kofler, Innsbruck (Austria):

Sexualität und Evolution
(Sexuality and Evolution - from an extended point of view)

When considering man as a social being from an extended point of view, it is helpful to take into consideration not only the evolution of his material characteristics, but also the immaterial ones. If one were to adopt a monistic-ontological perspective - which is of course most comfortable, since one need not trouble oneself about how two fundamentally different substances are related to each other - and consider physicists as being in the right when they claim that all observable nature consists exclusively of quanta (and units derived from them), then one must ascribe to these initial units - till now characterized exclusively in physical terms as the ‘smallest observable units’- also the characteristics which are not describable in physical terms alone, thanks to which an intertwined material/immaterial evolution has taken place.

This approach opens up the possibility of making both the reality existing independently of man as also that dependent on him derivable from the initial units. This process cannot be presented within the framework of the topic of this conference. However, this aspect must be referred to because it would make it clear that, activities constitutive for man - and thus also e.g. sexuality - must have developed in the course of earlier stages of processes that represent specifications of general principles. This can provide the occasion to question the currently widely accepted basic biological assumptions regarding evolution. The classical understanding of evolution can be traced back to Darwin and the modern geneticists (Darwin-Morgan point of view). It was developed for explaining the special case of the evolution of species. At the centre of evolution we find the battle for survival and success through ensuring the largest possible number of progeny despite, and thanks to mutation and selection. Not infrequently does one come across formulations according to which the behaviour of life forms even at the very lowest levels is oriented towards producing the largest possible number of progeny.

If one analyses the evolutionary process more carefully, one can see that assumptions that enable reaching win-win solutions hold true. According to this assumption, approaches persist which enable actors to achieve better their subjective priorities. In contrast to this, maintenance of species, as all other evolutionary results, are, so to say, the unintended consequences of intended actions. If one assumes that in all life forms sexual activities generate pleasurable feelings, one can see in this the actual reason for sexual activity. These forms of life have survived due to the fact that the pleasurable experiences carried with them side effects namely, progeny were produced. When the fulfillment of desires for pleasurable experiences was not followed by progeny in a given form of life, its survival was doomed. Such a view should contribute to a better understanding of the fact so very few human beings engage in sexual activities with the objective of procreation, although the Homo sapiens has certainly the level of intelligence to understand the connection between sexual behaviour and procreation. This also eliminates the dilemma that the lowest forms of life have to be ascribed more future-oriented intentional behaviour and correspondingly greater understanding than that we reasonably ascribe to human beings as the crowing glory of creation.

About the Author:

Walter Kofler, Dr. med., Full Professor, Head of the Devision Social Medicine of Medical University Innsbruck, President of the International Academy for Sciences - Health and Ecology

Prof. Dr. Walter Kofler
Institut für Sozialmedizin
Medizinische Universität Innsbruck
Sonnenburgstrasse 16,
A-6020 Innsbruck (Austria)
Tel. 0043-512-507-3580 (2718 FAX)
Email adress: Walter.Kofler@uibk.ac.at

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