Without the Stars: Richard Dawkins and Autonomy
(A given reader may find either that some or all of the following is ambiguous, or that it is ‘perfectly clear’ while not realizing that the ‘clearness’ is not the kind I intend. You may misinterpret while taking for granted that you have interpreted correctly. Or, you may struggle to figure out what point(s) I even might be making, if any.)
The deepest, most abiding, and by far most important, kind of personal autonomy for a person is his or her sexuality. This normally means, especially for someone like me, his or her sense of feeling validated as a sexual being; both in a) and b), following.
a) in the sense of being respected in one’s wish to withhold whatever sexual feelings one might in a particular context or to a particular person wish to withhold, including such feelings’ personally concomitant behavior,
b) in the sense of being fully approved for existing as as much of a sexual being as one at any time either happens to feel or has the ecological and eco-social right to express (including expressing offense at being treated in a way which effects oneself adversely either in a) or in b)).
Congruently—and contrary to what it may seem that Richard Dawkins meant in his comment about the ‘indifferent’ drive of our genes to reproduce themselves—the genetic instinct of humans to produce offspring through sex is not a drive to produce offspring as such, but a drive to produce sexual human beings which are at once adored and successfully assisted to attain to sexual maturity.
And, to hope to be clear, by ‘sexual maturity’ I here do not mean sexual potential, as if the sexual maturity of a person has attained its own end in mere potential. Rather, what I here mean by ‘sexual maturity’ is that which consists in nothing less than the ideal to which the socio-sexual act itself may generally aspire. As someone like the Buddha would put it, ‘the universe loves sex.’ If I were limited to putting it in those same terms, I would say:
The universe loves persons’ autonomy, in which the central purpose of that autonomy is sex and sexuality—like the two sides of a coin. Or a tornado of stars. Even empty space is not indifferent: it is lost without the stars.