Arnold Davidson

Tuesday 11 April 2017.
 

"Ellis’ discussion descends from the psychiatric style of reasoning that begins, roughly speaking, in the second half of the nineteenth century, a period during which rules for the production of true discourses about sexuality change radically. Sexual identity is no longer exclusively linked to the anatomical structure of the internal and external genital organs. It is now a matter of impulses, tastes, apitudes, satisfactions, and psychic traits. There is a whole new set of concepts that makes it possible to detach questions of sexual identity from facts about anatomy, a possibility that only came about with the emergence of a new style of reasoning. And with this new style of reasoning came entirely new kinds of sexual diseases and disorders." (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 35 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"An account of the emergence of sexuality must be supplemented by the story of the emergence of perversion as a disease category, something I have attempted elsewhere. Or to be more precise, our experiences of sexuality was born at the same time that perversion emerged as the kind of deviation by which sexually ceaselessly threatened. I have argued not only that our medical concept of perversion did not exist prior to the mid-nineteenth century but also there were no perverts before the existence of this concept. This shift from an emergence of a concept ("perversion") to the emergence of a kind of person (the pervert), to return to an issue I have already mentioned, is underwritten by the doctrine that Ian Hacking has called "dynamic nominalism." Hacking argues that in many domains of the human sciences, "categories of people come into existence at the same time as kinds of people come into being to fit these categories, and there is a two-way interaction between the processes." Dynamic nominalism shows how "history plays an essential role in the constitution of the objects, where the objects are the people and ways in which they behave," since human sciences "bring into being new categories which, in part, bring in new kinds of people." Hacking gives the multiple personality as an example of making up new people and provides other examples from the history of statistics. Perverts and the history perversion are a still further example of making up people. Our experience of sexuality is all that there is to sexuality itself, and this experience was decisively and quite recently formed by a set of concepts or categories, among them "perversion," and an associated style of reasoning." (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 57 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"In Kraft-Ebbing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, however we have a book devoted to the description, indeed the constitution, of four types of characters: the homosexual or invert, the sadist, the masochist, and the fetishist. That is to say, we have a book that sets forth the intrinsic distinguishing characteristics of a new kind of person-the pervert. Kraft-Ebbing insisted that to diagnose the pervert correctly one "must investigate the whole personality of the individual" (PS, p. 53) He continually emphasizes that diagnosis cannot proceed simply by examining the sexual acts performed. One must rather investigate impulses, feelings, urges, desires, fantasies, tendencies, and so on, and the result of this investigation will be to mark off new kinds of persons, distinct and separate from the normal heterosexual individual. It is the pervert who is primary, perverse choices and actions being subordinated to a conceptually subsidiary role. If in psychiatry the conceptual focus moves from perverse choices to the pervert, and if linguistic forms reflect such conceptual changes, then it should come as no surprise that we find more distinctive and frequent use there of "pervert" and even "perversion." (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 63 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Connected with this new focus is the fact that nineteen-century psychiatry often took sexuality to be the way in which the mind is best represented. To know a person’s sexuality is to know that person. Sexuality is the externalization of the hidden, inner essence of personality. And to know sexuality, to know the person, we must know its anomalies. (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 63 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Much of my discussion has been concerned with a rupture in styles of reasoning within medicine, a break from pathological anatomy in all its forms to the emergence of psychiatric reasoning. (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 64 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

I have argued that starting around 1870 a new psychiatric style of reasoning about diseases emerges, one that makes possible among other things, statements about sexual perversion-about homosexuality, fetishism, sadism, and masochism-that then quickly become commonplaces in discussions of sexuality. The appearance and proliferation of these statements were a direct consequence of this new style of reasoning, which we can think of, in Foucault’s terms, as the birth of a new discursive practice. An espistemologically central constituent of a style of reasoning, as I interpret it, is a set of concepts linked together by specific rules that determine what statements can and cannot be made with the concepts. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 68-69 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

During the second half of the nineteenth century there was a virtual explosion of medical discussions about the sexual perversions, what Foucault has called an incitement to discourse, an immense verbosity. These discussions saturated European and, eventually, American psychiatric concerns, resulting in an epidemic of perversion that seemed to rival the recent cholera outbreaks. Despite many differences between these loquacious psychiatrists, differences both theoretical and clinical, all shared the concept of perversion that underpinned these discussions the perversions were a shared object of psychiatric discourse about which there were commonly recognized and fully standardized forms of reasoning. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p.72 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The best way to begin to understand the nineteenth-century conceptual space encircling perversion is to examine the notion of the/sexual instinct for the conception of perversion underlying clinical thought was that of a functional disease of this instinct. That is to say, the class of diseases that affected the sexual instinct was precisely the sexual perversions. A functional understanding of the instinct allowed one to isolate a set of disorders or diseases that were disturbances of its special functions. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 72 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Moreau (de Tours), in a book that influenced the first edition of Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, argued that the clinical facts forced one to accept as absolutely demonstrated the psychic existence of a sixth sense, which he called the genital sense.16 Although the notion of a genital sense may appear ludicrous, Moreau’s characterization was adopted by subsequent French clinicians, and his phrase "sens genital" was preserved, by Charcot among others, as a translation of our "sexual instinct." The genital sense is just the sexual instinct, masquerading in different words. Its characterization as a sixth sense was a useful analogy. Just as one could become blind, or have acute vision, or be able to discriminate only a part of the color spectrum, and just as one might go deaf, or have abnormally sensitive hearing, or be able to hear only certain pitches, so too this sixth sense might be diminished, augmented, or perverted. What Moreau hoped to demonstrate was that this genital sense had special functions distinct from those served by other organs and that, just as with the other senses, this sixth sense could be psychically disturbed without the proper working of other mental functions, either affective or /intellectual, being harmed. A demonstration such as Moreau’s was essential in isolating diseases of sexuality as distinct morbid entities. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 72-73 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The notions of perversion and function are inextricably connected. Once one offers a functional characterization of the sexual instinct, perversions become a natural class of diseases; without this characterization there is really no conceptual room for this kind of disease. It is clear, for instance, that Krafft-Ebing understood the sexual instinct in a functional way. In his Text-book of Insanity Krafft-Ebing is unequivocal in his claim that life presents two instincts, those of self-preservation and sexuality; he insists that abnormal life presents no new instincts although the instincts of self-preservation and sexuality "may be lessened, increased, or manifested with perversion." (Davidson, ow to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 73 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Anomalies of the sexual instinct are similarly classified as lessened or entirely wanting ("anesthesia"), abnormally increased ("hyperesthesia"), and perversely expressed ("paresthesia"); in addition there is a fourth class of anomalies of the sexual instinct which consists in its manifestation outside of the period of anatomical and physiological processes in the reproductive organs ("paradoxia") (see 77, p. 8i). In both his Text-book of Insanity and Psychopathia Sexualis, Krafft-Ebing further divides the perversions into sadism, masochism, fetishism, and contrary sexual instinct (see 77, pp. 83-86 and PS, pp. 34-36). (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 73-74 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

To be able to determine precisely what phenomena are functional disturbances or diseases of the sexual instinct, one must also, of course, specify in what the normal or natural function of this instinct consists. Without knowing the normal function of the instinct, everything and nothing could count as a functional disturbance. There would be no principled criterion to include or exclude any behavior from the disease category of perversion. So one must first believe that there is a natural function of the sexual instinct and then believe that this function is quite determinate. We might think that questions as momentous as these would have received extensive discussion during the heyday of perversion in the nineteenth century. But, remarkably enough, no such discussion appears. There is virtually unargued unanimity both on the fact that this instinct does have a natural function and on what that function is. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”, p. 74 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Krafft-Ebing’s view is representative here: During the time of the maturation of physiological processes in the reproductive glands, desires arise in the consciousness of the individual, which have for their purpose the perpetuation of the species (sexual instinct). ...
With opportunity for the natural satisfaction of the sexual instinct, every expression of it that does not correspond with the purpose of nature i.e., propagation must be regarded as perverse. (PS, pp. 16, 52-53)
(Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality p. 74 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Nineteenth-century psychiatry silently adopted this conception of the function of the sexual instinct. It was often taken as so natural as not to need explicit statement since it was the only conception that made sense of psychiatric practice. It is not at all obvious why sadism, masochism, fetishism, and homosexuality should be treated as species of the same disease, for they appear to have no essential features in common. However, if one
takes the natural function of the sexual instinct to be propagation, and if one takes the corresponding natural, psychological satisfaction of this instinct to consist in the satisfaction derived from heterosexual, genital intercourse, then it becomes possible to see why they were all classified together as perversions. Sadism, masochism, fetishism, and homosexuality all exhibit the same kind of perverse expression of the sexual instinct, the same basic kind of functional deviation, which manifests itself in the fact that psychological satisfaction is obtained primarily through activities disconnected from the natural function of the instinct.
(Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 75-76 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

This understanding of the instinct permits a unified treatment of perversion, allowing one to place an apparently heterogeneous group of phenomena under the same natural disease-kind. Had anyone denied either that the sexual instinct has a natural function or that this function is procreation, diseases of perversion, as they were actually understood, would not have entered psychiatric nosology. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 76 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In the last paragraph of this preliminary section of the first essay, Freud introduces what he calls "two technical terms." The sexual object is "the person from whom sexual attraction proceeds," while the sexual aim is "the act towards which the instinct tends" (T, pp. 135-136). Freud’s motivation for introducing these terms is not merely, as he explicitly states it, that scientific observation uncovers many deviations in respect of both sexual object and sexual aim. More significantly, these are precisely the two conceptually basic kinds of deviations we should expect of those writers who subscribed to the popular conception of the sexual instinct. Deviations with respect to sexual object are deviations from the natural attraction exercised by one sex upon the other; deviations with respect to sexual aim are deviations from the natural goal of sexual union. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 77 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In the nineteenth-century psychiatric theories that preceded Freud, both a specific object and a specific aim formed part and parcel of the instinct. The nature of the sexual instinct manifested itself, as I have said, in an attraction to members of the opposite sex and in a desire for genital intercourse with them. Thus inversion was one unnatural functional deviation of the sexual instinct, a deviation in which the natural object of this instinct did not exert its proper attraction. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 79 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

By claiming, in effect, that there is, no natural object of the sexual instinct, that the sexual object and sexual instinct are merely soldered together, Freud dealt a conceptually devastating blow to the entire structure of nineteenth-century theories of sexual psychopathology. In order to show that inversion was a real functional deviation and not merely a statistical abnormality without genuine pathological significance, one had to conceive of the "normal" object of the instinct as part of the very content of the instinct itself. If the object is not internal to the instinct, then there can be no intrinsic clinico-pathological meaning to the fact that the instinct can become attached to an inverted object. The distinction between normal and inverted object will not then coincide with the division between the natural and the unnatural, itself a division between the normal and the pathological. Since the nature of the instinct, according to Freud, has no special bond with any particular kind of object, we seem forced to conclude that the supposed deviation, of inversion is no more than a mere difference. Indeed Freud’s very language is indicative of the force of this conclusion. He says, "Experience of the cases that are considered abnormal," thus qualifying "abnormal" in a rhetorically revealing manner. These cases of inversion are considered abnormal because of a certain conception of the sexual instinct in which one kind of object is a natural part of the instinct itself. Unhinged from this conception, these cases " cannot be considered pathological, cannot instantiate the concept of abnormality employed by Krafft-Ebing, Moll, and others. I think that what we ought to conclude, given the logic of Freud’s argument and his radically new conceptualization in this paragraph, is precisely that cases of inversion can no longer be considered pathologically abnormal. (Davidson, How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, p. 79 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"I have tried to show that starting around 1870 a new style of psychiatric reasoning style of reasoning about diseases emerges, one that makes possible, among other things, statements about sexual perversion-about homosexuality, masochism, sadism, and fetishism-that then quickly become commonplace in discussions of "sexuality." The appearance and proliferation of these statements were a direct consequence of this new style of reasoning, which we could also think of, in Foucault’s terms, as the birth of a new discursive practice. So to write a history of the birth of nineteenth-century psychiatry by the way of the of a notion style of reasoning requires writing a history of the emergence of a new system of concepts and showing how these concepts are internally related by a set of rules to form a structured conceptual space. One wants to see what concepts, connected in what particular ways, allowed statements about sexual perversions that had never been before, and ultimately permitted, so I have argued, the very constitution of the sexual perversions." (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 136 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts, p. 136)

Furthermore, a crucial part of my historical account has been to demonstrate that this psychiatric style of reasoning is to be contrasted with the anatomical style of reasoning about diseases. In the arena of the sexual, the anatomical style of reasoning took sex as its object of investigation and concerned itself with diseases of structural abnormality, with pathological changes that resulted from some macroscopic or microscopic anatomical change. (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 137 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

If we study the history of pathological anatomy, neurology, and psychiatry in the nineteenth century, we can begin to reconstruct some of the polar concepts that make up the two opposed styles of reasoning. We are presented, for instance, with the polarities between sex and sexuality, organ and instinct, structure and function, and anatomical defect and perversion. The first of each of these pairs of concepts partially makes up the anatomical style of reasoning about disease, while the second of each of these pairs helps to constitute the psychiatric style of reasoning. These polarities analytically differentiate two conceptual modes of representation, two conceptual spaces, methodologically parallel to Wolfflin’s polarities that distinguish two visual modes of representation. By figuring out exactly how these concepts combine with one another in determinate ways to form possible true-or-false statements, and by enumerating the kinds of inference, analogy, evidence, verification, and explanation that are associated with these conceptual combinations, we can reconstitute a full-fledged style of reasoning. (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 137 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

One conclusion I have drawn from my attempt to reconstitute the psychiatric style of reasoning about sexuality is the very concept of perversion (as well as the experience of being a pervert) did not exist before the latter part of the nineteenth century. By seeing that and how the concept of perversion was part of a style of reasoning, one sees that and how it required a whole set of related concepts, the entire ensemble of which was linked together in specifiable ways. The concept of perversion demanded a whole new conceptual space embedded in a new style of reasoning." (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 137 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"My own account of the history of perversion and perverts has been a heavily top-down account, emphasizing the role of psychiatric concepts and categories in creating the reality of homosexuality, mascohism, sadism. I have argued we do not have the evidence of the homosexual preexisting the concepts and categories of nineteenth-century psychiatry, that this supposed evidence is actually evidence of sodomy, and that it was only retrospectively (mis)interpreted as evidence of homosexuality after the concept of the homosexual was well entrenched in psychiatric theory and practice." (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 137 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In the psychiatric style of reasoning, perversion is located outside the boundaries of the will. It is a disease of the sexual instinct, psychobiologically embedded in one’s personality, and not legitimately the object of moral approbation or disapprobation. The opposite of perversion is normal sexual desires or appetites, which are similarly independent of volition. Indeed, one of the main functions of this concept of sexual perversion is precisely to separate this phenomenon from the domain of vice. (Davidson, Styles of Reasoning: From the History of Art to the Epistemology of Science, p. 140 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"My own account of the history of perversion and perverts has been a heavily top-down account, emphasizing the role of psychiatric concepts and categories in creating the reality of homosexuality, mascohism, sadism. I have argued we do not have the evidence of the homosexual preexisting the concepts and categories of nineteenth-century psychiatry, that this supposed evidence is actually evidence of sodomy, and that it was only retrospectively (mis)interpreted as evidence of homosexuality after the concept of the homosexual was well entrenched in psychiatric theory and practice." (Davidson, The Epistemology of Distorted Evidence: Problems around Carlo Ginzburg’s Historiography, p. 156 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In a series of essays inspired by Foucault’s general methodological remarks and by La Volonte de savior, I have tried to show that the psychiatric style of reasoning about sexuality is precisely on of these new forms of the will to truth, containing new concepts, new objects of knowledge, new techniques, and institutional supports. In short, I have tried to describe, in some historical detail, the regime of truth which governed psychiatric discourse about sexuality in the nineteenth century, concentrating especially on new concepts, like that of sexual perversion, and the way in which these new concepts were combined in determinate ways to produce a new realm of statements (enonces) whose object was sexuality. (Davidson, Foucault and the Analysis of Concepts, p. 180 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The following quotes are by other others making reference to Arnold Davidson.

Were there any perverts before the latter part of the nineteenth century? According to Arnold Davidson, "The answer is NO. . . . Perversion was not a disease that lurked about in nature, waiting for a psychiatrist with especially acute powers of observation to discover it hiding everywhere. It was a disease created by a new (functional) understanding of disease."’ Davidson is not denying that there have been odd people at all times. He is asserting that perversion, as a disease, and the pervert, as a diseased person, were created in the late nineteenth century. Davidson’s claim, one of many now in circulation, illustrates what I call making up people. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 222 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

The idea of making up people has, I said, become quite widespread. The Making of the Modern Homosexual is a good example; "Making" in this title is close to my "making up." The contributors by and large accept that the homosexual and the heterosexual as kinds of persons (as ways to be persons, or as conditions of personhood) came into being only toward the end of the nineteenth century. There has been plenty of same-sex activity in all ages, but not, Making argues, same-sex people and different-sex people. I do not wish to enter the complexities of that idea, but will quote a typical passage from this anthology to show what is intended: "One difficulty in transcending the theme of gender inversion as the basis of the specialized homosexual identity was the rather late historical development of more precise conceptions of components of sexual identity. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 225 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

This article consists of quotes taken from The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts written by Arnold Davidson. This book by Davidson and the article by Mary McIntosh, The Homosexual Role published in (Social Problems. 1968, 16, pages 182-192), have been influential to many others and myself. I see them as the foundational basis to understanding homosexuality.

Online information about Arnold Davidson may be found here. http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/davidson.html

Online information about Mary McIntosh may be found here. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jan/24/mary-mcintosh

Arnold Davidson has argued that the nineteenth century saw an epistemological or conceptual shift, with the emergence of a new structures of knowledge and a new psychiatric style of reasoning.

His argument fundamentally assumes that sexuality’s conceptual emergence depended on the prior conceptual advent of sexual perversion, and that such perversion became conceivable only in the nineteenth century. Before then, Davidson claims, there was only a concept of sexual "perversity," in the sense of generalized vice in which individuals culpably involved themselves by choice. (Borris, and Rousseau editors. The Sciences of Homosexuality in early Modern Europe, p.8

The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts

The essays that constitute this book were written, more or less independently of one another, over many years. All of them were first given as lectures, and are marked by the occasions of their presentation. I have not tried to erase their oral quality, nor I have excised a small number of repetitions that appear in related essays. Since the essay/lecture has been my natural form of expression, I have resisted the urge to make this book go contrary to nature. (Davidson, Preface, p. 9 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

It is convenient to divide the history of sexual perversion into three stages, each stage depending upon a different understanding of what these diseases were thought to be diseases of. It is perhaps best to think of each stage as characterized by a different mode or form of explanation, the third stage constituting a decisive break with the first two, since it inaugurates an entirely new style of reasoning about perversion. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses p. 3 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In the first, most short-lived stage, sexual perversion was thought to be a disease of the reproductive or genital organs, a disease whose basis was some anatomical abnormality of these organs. The second stage, although in clinical practice recognizing perversions to be abnormalities of the sexual instinct, insisted that the psychophysiology of the sexual instinct (and so of its diseases as well) would eventually, with advances in knowledge, come to be understood in terms of the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of the brain. These first two stages of explanation shared a commitment to the anatomo-pathologi-cal style of reasoning. The third stage took perversions to be pure functional deviations of the sexual instinct, not reducible to cerebral pathology. Perversions were to be viewed and treated at the level of psychology, not at the grander level of pathological anatomy. The psychiatric style of reasoning emerged clearly and definitively at this third stage. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 3 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Of course, this three-stage structural partition does not precisely coincide with historical chronology; the three forms of explanation were often mixed together, sometimes even in the same article. But they are capable of being distinguished and it will help our understanding to so distinguish them. More specifically, the second and third stages are not separated by some exactly datable dividing line. Indeed, these two stages overlap to such an extent that many of the psychiatrists who are most responsible for our current conception of the perversions were also strongly wedded to the dominance of brain pathology. So although for analytical and historio-graphical reasons we must carefully separate these last two stages, as a matter of historical account no such neat division will be found. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 3 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

From very near the beginning of psychiatry’s emergence as an academic discipline, functional diseases were a recognized part of clinical experience. Theories about the neuropathology of the brain had no clinical effects; they were part of an almost useless conceptual space. So although we can, and should, distinguish between perversions as functional deviations ultimately reducible to brain disease and perversions as pure functional diseases, if we look at the descriptions of those who advocate these second arid third modes of explanation, they are practically identical. The real, break, the new style of reasoning, is to be located at that point when the sexual instinct and its functional diseases were introduced together. Functional diseases were diseases of something not an organ, but an instinct. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 4 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In one of the earliest articles on what we have come to call perversion, probably the earliest article in French, Dr. Michea takes up the case of Sergeant Bertrand, accused of having violated female cadavers. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 4 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Yet I have claimed that pathological anatomy did not substantially influence the clinical description and classification of the perversions. Indeed, the only person to even attempt a classification of the perversions on an anatomical basis was Paul Magnan, a distinguished medical psychologist and a sometime collaborator with J. M. Charcot. In a presentation to the Societe m&lico-psychologique in 1885, Magnan divided the perversions into four classes, hoping that his anatomical classification would help to reduce the confusion that surrounded these aberrations. Perversions were to be understood, according to him, as (1) spinal, (2) posterior spinal cerebral (nymphomania and satyriasis), (3) anterior spinal cerebral (contrary sexual instinct), and (4) anterior cerebral (erotomania). As ultimately unsatisfactory as it was, Magnan’s classification was at least headed in the right direction, assuming, of course, that pathological anatomy was as useful as was always claimed. But even in Magnan’s hands this classification was more nominal than real. His explanation for why the different perversions were classified as they were was less than sketchy, and his classifications had, at most, a minimal influence on his presentation of cases. Magnan was better known among his colleagues for his extended description of contrary sexual instinct (inversion du sens genital) and for his linking of this perversion with degeneracy; in this respect his views were quite common and his work followed a long line of predecessors, beginning with Carl Westphal. In fact, Falret, commenting on Magnan’s 1885 presentation, mentions nothing about his supposed anatomical classification, but rather insists (as did Magnan) on the importance of the hereditary character of the perversions. Although Magnan’s classification was adopted by a few other French physicians, it was without much effect. His classification never really caught on, and no one offered any more sophisticated anatomical classifications in its place. Magnan’s attempt was offered more out of theoretical necessity than as a result of any genuine evidence or insight. His was a last effort to keep pathological anatomy alive. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 11-12 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The best way to understand the nineteenth-century obsession with perversion is to examine the notion of the sexual instinct, for, as I have said, the actual conception of perversion underlying clinical thought was that of a functional disease of this instinct. That is to say, the class of diseases that affected the sexual instinct was precisely the sexual perversions. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 12 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The appropriate way to understand the sexual instinct is in functional terms, not in anatomical ones. Without such a functional understanding, there would have been no conceptual foundation for classifying certain phenomena as perversions or diseases of the instinct. And Richard von Krafft-Ebing himself, as I shall show, understood the sexual instinct in this functional way; his pathological anatomy here is just so much window dressing. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 13 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

And by claiming that the seat of the sexual instinct was everywhere and nowhere, he told us to look for its diseases everywhere and nowhere. This "everywhere and nowhere" sometimes had a more common name in psychiatric discussions-it went under the name of personality. A functional understanding of the instinct allowed one to isolate a set of disorders or diseases that were disturbances of the special functions of the instinct. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 13 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Paul Moreau (de Tours), in a book that influenced the first edition of Krafft-Ebing s Psychopathia Sexualis, argued that the clinical facts forced one to accept, as absolutely demonstrated, the psychic existence of a sixth sense, which he called the genital sense. Although the notion of a genital sense may appear ludicrous, Moreau’s characterization was adopted by subsequent French clinicians, and his phrase sens ge’nital was preserved, by Charcot among others, as a translation of our "sexual instinct." So Carl Westphal’s contrdre Sexualempfindung became inversion du sens ge’nital. The genital sense is just the sexual instinct, masquerading in different words. Its characterization as a sixth sense was a useful analogy. Just as one could become blind or have acute vision or be able to discriminate only a part of the color spectrum, and just as one might go deaf or have abnormally sensitive hearing or be able to hear only certain pitches, so too this sixth sense might be diminished, augmented, or perverted. What Moreau hoped to demonstrate was that this genital sense had special functions, distinct from the functions served by other organs, and that just as with the other senses, this sixth sense could be psychically disturbed without the proper working of other mental functions, either affective or intellectual, being harmed. A demonstration such as Moreau’s was essential in isolating diseases of sexuality as distinct disease entities. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 13-14 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The notions of perversion and function are inextricably intertwined. Once one offers a functional characterization of the sexual instinct, perversions become a natural class of diseases; and without this characterization there is really no conceptual room for this kind of disease. Whatever words of pathological anatomy he and others offered, it is clear that Krafft-Ebing understood the sexual instinct in a functional way. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 14 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Anomalies of the sexual instinct are similarly classified as lessened or entirely wanting (anaesthesia), abnormally increased (hyperesthesia), and perverse expression (paraesthesia); in addition there is a fourth class of anomalies of the sexual instinct, which consists in its manifestation outside of the period of anatomical and physiological processes in the reproductive organs (para-doxia). In both his Textbook on Insanity and Psychopathia Sexualis, Krafft-Ebing further divides the perversions into sadism, masochism, fetishism, and contrary sexual instinct.; (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 15 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

In order to be able to determine precisely what phenomena are functional disturbances or diseases of the sexual instinct, one must also, of course, specify what the normal or natural function of this instinct consists in. Without knowing what the normal function of the instinct is, everything and nothing could count as a functional disturbance. There would be no principled criterion to include or exclude any behavior from the disease category of perversion. So one must first believe that there is a natural function of the sexual instinct and then believe that this function is quite determinate. One might have thought that questions as momentous as these would have received extensive discussion during the nineteenth-century heyday of perversion. But, remarkably enough, no such discussion appears. There is virtually unargued unanimity both on the fact that this instinct does have a natural function and on what that function is. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 15 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Nineteenth-century psychiatry silently adopted this conception of the function of the sexual instinct, and it was often taken as so natural as not to need explicit statement. It is not at all obvious why sadism, masochism, fetishism, and homosexuality should be treated as species of the same disease, for they appear to have no essential features in common. Yet if one takes the natural function of the sexual instinct to be propagation, it becomes possible to see why they were all classified together as perversions. They all manifest the same kind of perverse expression, the same basic kind of functional deviation. Thus this understanding of the instinct permits a unified treatment of perversion, allows one to place an apparently heterogeneous group of phenomena under the same natural disease kind. Had anyone denied either that the sexual instinct has a natural function or that this function is procreation, diseases of perversion, as we understand them, would not have entered psychiatric nosology (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 15-16 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

I have already indicated that most nineteenth-century clinical reports of perversion were cases of so-called contrary sexual instinct, and I have offered a hypothesis to explain why this may have been so. In the rest of my discussion of the medical literature on perversion I shall concentrate on these cases, other forms of perversion requiring a separate treatment (which I have provided elsewhere). We can conveniently place the origin of contrary sexual instinct, as a medicopsychological diagnostic category, in 1870, with the publication of Carl Westphal’s "Die contrare Sexualempfindung" in Archiv fur Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten. Westphal’s attachment to pathological anatomy did not prevent him from giving the first modern definition of homosexuality. He believed that contrary sexual instinct was a congenital perversion of the sexual instinct, and that in this perversion "a woman is physically a woman and psychologically a man and, on the other hand, a man is physically a man and psychologically a woman." I have called this the first modern definition because it presents a purely psychological characterization of homosexuality, and, detached from Westphal’s meager explanatory speculations, it provides us with the clinical conception of this perversion operative in almost all of the subsequent medical literature. Later issues of the Archiv contained similar reports of contrary sexual instinct, and some of Krafft-Ebing’s most important early work appeared in this journal. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 16 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

With the publication of Charcot and Magnan’s paper in Archives de Neurologie in 1882, an epidemic of contrary sexual instinct, equal to that of Germany, was soon to plague France. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 16 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"Westphal’s psychological characterization of homosexuality is, in effect, the psychiatric transformation of a previous, although, nonmedical, understanding of this disorder. Karl Heinrich Ukrichs, a Hanoverian lawyer, had achieved some notoriety with his autobiographical description of contrary sexual instinct, published in the middle 1860s. Ulrichs gave the name "urning" to those who suffered from these desires, and supposed that a woman’s soul dwelled in a man’s body (anima muliebris in virili corpore inclusa). And of course throughout, the 1870s and 1880s, there were the obligatory anatomical claims that these desires were the result of "the brain of a woman in a man’s body and the brain of a man in a woman". These three ideas of same-sex sexual behavior represent the three central places where the phenomenon was thought to reside-the soul, the brain, and the psyche of or personality. And, although not always in this historical sequence, theology, pathological anatomy, and psychiatry each took its own opportunity to lay claim to a complete explanation of perverse desires." (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 17 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The normal sexual instinct expresses itself in a definite personality or character; functional disorders of the instinct will express themselves as psychical anomalies. Since the sexual instinct was thought to partake of both somatic and psychic features, any functional abnormality of the instinct could be expected to manifest itself psychically. In this way, these functional disorders and psychology were very closely connected. As Albert Moll says, "To understand the homosexual urge we should consider the genital instinct not as a phenomenon apart from the other functions but rather as a psychic function." (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 18 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

One of the most notable facts about this early psychiatric literature on perversion is that no explanatory framework is proposed to account for purely functional diseases. None of the writers I am familiar with ever suggests that these so-called functional diseases are not true diseases, are not part of the legitimate domain of medical science. Yet, at the same time, there was no already clearly formulated concept of disease under which they could readily fall. Clinical practice came first; explanatory theory lagged far behind. No doubt the circumstances are complicated by the fact that all of the early writers expressed an allegiance to pathological anatomy. But even after pathological anatomy became an obvious explanatory failure, psychiatry did not regroup and address itself to the question of whether these perversions were really diseases. One unequivocal path to take would have been to claim that precisely because no anatomical changes underlay the perversions, they could not be considered diseases, and physicians must leave their regulation to others more qualified. But clinical practice had already constituted the perversions as diseases, and by the time the hold of pathological anatomy was loosened, they were already a recognized part of psychiatric nosology. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 19-20 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The important point is that theories of this kind were developed after the fact, after the recognition, in standard psychiatric manuals, of whole new disease categories. These new diseases appeared almost full-blown in clinical practice, and silently, anonymously, became part of psychiatric nomenclature. The effect of this quiet, undisturbed recognition was vastly to enlarge psychiatric therapy and intervention. Psychiatry was not to be concerned solely with the extreme forms, the limits, of the human condition, such as madness. Instead, the entire domain of the unnatural and abnormal was to become its province. And one need not have waited until Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality71 to realize that this clinical arena was as common as it was "unnatural"; no one was to escape the psychiatric gaze. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 21 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"The question I now wish to ask is: Were there any perverts before the later part of the nineteen century? Strange as it may sound, the answer this question is, no. Perversion and perverts were an invention of psychiatric reasoning and of the psychiatric theories I have surveyed. I again restrict myself to the case of homosexuality, but a similar history could be recounted for the other perversions.) I do not wish to be understood-intercourse between members of the same sex did not begin, I dare say, in the nineteen century; but homosexuality, as a disease of the sexual instinct did. One will not be able to understand the importance of these new diseases of sexuality if one conflates contrary sexual instinct with sodomy. Sodomy was a legal category, defined in terms of certain specifiable behavior; the sodomite was a judicial subject of the law. Homosexuality was a psychic disease of the instinct, of one’s sensibility, not to be reduced to merely behavior terms." (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 22 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

Homosexuality was a psychic disease of the instinct, of one’s sensibility, not to be reduced to merely behavioral terms. Westphal’s "contrare Sexualempfindung" is literally a contrary sexual sentiment or sensation, in which the notion of behavior plays, at most, a subsidiary role; the homosexual is a medical patient of psychiatry. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

These passages make clear how distinct homosexuality and sodomy were considered to be. Homosexuality was disease, a perversion strictly speaking, whereas sodomy was a vice, a problem for morality and law, about which medicine had no special knowledge. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 23 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"Perversion was not a disease that lurked about in nature, waiting for a psychiatrist with especially acute powers of observation to discover it hiding almost everywhere. It was disease created by a new (functional) understanding of disease, a conceptual shift, a shift in reasoning that made it possible to interpret various types of activity in mediopsychiatric terms. There was no natural morbid entity to be discovered until clinical psychiatric practice invented one. Perversion was not a disease candidate until it became possible to attribute diseases to the sexual instinct, and there were no possible diseases of the sexual instinct before the nineteenth century; when the notion of diseases of this instinct loses its last remaining grasp upon us, we will rid the world of all its perverts." (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 24 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

These claims, however, should not detain us; all we find before the nineteenth century are descriptions of sodomy, as an actual reading of these prenineteenth-century descriptions will confirm. Perversion is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. (Davidson. Closing Up the Corpses, p. 25 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The categories and conceptualizations of the self determine not only how others view us, but also how each person conceives of him- or herself. And conceptions of ourselves greatly influence how we actually behave. Part of Foucault’s "genealogy of subject in Western civilization" must consist in an investigation of the origin of new categories of the self. These categories may come from the strangest and most diverse places. Ian Hacking has shown that the grand statistical surveys of the early nineteenth century provided many new classifications of the self. It will not be as surprising to be told that psychiatry is another fertile source for new conceptualizations of the self. The concept of perversion, once exclusively a part of specialized nineteenth-century discussions, became, in the twentieth century, a dominant way of organizing our thought about our own sexuality. People diagnosed as perverts came to think of themselves as diseased, as morbid, an experience that was not possible before the heyday of the pervert that I have described. (Davidson. Closing Up the Corpses, p. 28 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

It is perversion as a possible way of being, a possible category of the self, that is the legacy of nineteenth-century psychiatry. The notion of perversion has so penetrated our framework of categories that it is now as natural and unquestioned to think of oneself as a pervert as it was once odd and questionable. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 28 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

The problem of perversion is a case in point. All of our subsequent reasoning about perversion is afflicted by the historical origins of the concept. Moreover, we cannot think away the concept of perversion, even if we no longer claim to believe that there is any natural function of the sexual instinct. We are prisoners of the historical space of nineteenth-century psychiatry, "shaped by pre-history, and only archeology can display its shape." The archeology of perversion is a crucial stage in understanding the history of ourselves, "How do I love thee; let me count the ways," and no longer fear our possible perversion. (Davidson, Closing Up the Corpses, p. 28-29 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

"Much the same idea is expressed in Veyne’s article, "Homosexuality in Ancient Rome," when he argues that the ancient Roman world did not view the experience of homosexuality as a "separate problem," that the question was never homosexuality per se, but being free and not being a passive agent. What we find is "a world in which one’s behaviour was judged not by one’s preference for girls or boys, but whether one played an active or a passive role." If we want to isolate the problem of homosexuality, we must jump to the nineteen century to find it." (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 32 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

I want to concentrate on the relation between forms of experience and systems of knowledge, on the way in what we have come to call sexuality is the product of a system of psychiatric knowledge that has its own style of reasoning and argumentation. (Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, p. 32 in The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts)

This theme, the homosexual as a kind of person, is often traced to a paper by Mary Macintosh, "The Homosexual Role," which she published in 1968 in Social Problems. That journal was much devoted to "labeling theory," which asserts that social reality is conditioned, stabilized, or even created by the labels we apply to people, actions, and communities. Already in 1963 "A Note on the Uses of Official Statistics" in the same journal anticipated my own inferences about counting. But there is a currently more fashionable source of the idea of making up people, namely, Michel Foucault, to whom both Davidson and I are indebted. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 226 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

Since so many of us have been influenced by Foucault, our choice of topic and time may be biased. My examples dwell in the nineteenth century and are obsessed with deviation and control. Thus among the questions on a complete agenda, we should include these two: Is making up people intimately linked to control? Is making up people itself of recent origin? The answer to both questions might conceivably be yes. We may be observing a particular medico-forensic-political language of individual and social control. Likewise, the sheer proliferation of labels in that domain during the nineteenth century may have engendered vastly more kinds of people than the world had ever known before. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 226 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

How might a dynamic nominalism affect the concept of the individual person? One answer has to do with possibility. Who we are is not only what we did, do, and will do but also what we might have done and may do. Making up people changes the space of possibilities for personhood. Even the dead are more than their deeds, for we make sense of a finished life only within its sphere of former possibilities. But our possibilities, although inexhaustible, are also bounded. If the nominalist thesis about sexuality were correct, it simply wasn’t possible to be a heterosexual kind of person before the nineteenth century, for that kind of person was not there to choose. What could that mean? What could it mean in general to say that possible ways to be a person can from time to time come into being or disappear? Such queries force us to be careful about the idea of possibility itself. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 229 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

Suppose there is some truth in the labeling theory of the modern homosexual. It cannot be the whole truth, and this for several reasons, including one that is future-directed and one that is past-directed. The future-directed fact is that after the institutionalization of the homosexual person in law and official morality, the people involved had a life of their own, individually and collectively. As gay liberation has amply proved, that life was no simple product of the labeling.
The past-directed fact is that the labeling did not occur in a social vacuum, in which those identified as homosexual people passively accepted the format. There was a complex social life that is only now revealing itself in the annals of academic social history. It is quite clear that the internal life of innumerable clubs and associations interacted with the medico-forensic-journalistic labeling.
(Hacking, Making Up People. p. 233 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

I do not believe there is a general story to be told about making up people. Each category has its own history. If we wish to present a partial framework in which to describe such events, we might think of two vectors. One is the vector of labeling from above, from a community of experts who create a "reality" that some people make their own. Different from this is the vector of the autonomous behavior of the person so labeled, which presses from below, creating a reality every expert must face. The second vector is negligible for the split but powerful for the homosexual person. People who write about the history of homosexuality seem to disagree about the relative importance of the two vectors. My scheme at best highlights what the dispute is about. It provides no answers. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 234 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

Dynamic nominalism remains an intriguing doctrine, arguing that numerous kinds of human beings and human acts come into being hand in hand with our invention of the categories labeling them. It is for me the only intelligible species of nominalism, the only one that can even gesture at an account of how common names and the named could so tidily fit together. It is of more human interest than the arid and scholastic forms of nominalism because it contends that our spheres of possibility, and hence ourselves, are to some extent made up by our naming and what that entails. (Hacking, Making Up People. p. 236 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.)

As the century progressed, cities were increasingly defined by their critics as spaces in which customary moral restraints were being eroded. Against the backdrop of this anxiety, doctors, psychiatrists, criminologists, jurists and others carefully mapped those spaces and the so-called aberrant behaviours they discovered in them, developing the classificatory and diagnostic tools necessary for the regulation and control of those troubled the guardians of society. In doing so, they gradually came to articulate what Arnold Davidson terms a new psychiatric style of reasoning. In the earlier part of the century, aberrant sexual behaviour was often viewed as a result of a simple lapse of the moral will, or conceptualized through what Davidson views as an antomopathological style of reasoning in which the source of that behaviour was located in some aspect of the perpetrator’s defective anatomy. By the 1890s, however, a new style of psychiatric reasoning had emerged which took as its starting point a belief in the existence of the so- called sexual instinct, the natural function of which, it was often assumed uncritically by many doctors, was reproduction. All aberrations were now mapped against this so-called natural function and constituted as sexual perversions or psychic diseases of the sexual instinct, involuntary symptoms of a deeper personality structure, now intelligible through psychiatry. (Waters, Sexology, p. 44 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality editors H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook.)

The procedures of Arnold I. Davidson’s Emergence of Sexuality (2001) demonstrate the importance of premodern science for assessment of the history of homosexuality. Though seeking to define sexuality’s emergence and its implications according to the history of science, he uses theology and law to define Western culture before the later 1800s and discounts premodern science. His argument fundamentally assumes that sexuality’s conceptual emergence depended on the prior conceptual advent of sexual perversion, and that such perversion became conceivable only in the nineteenth century. Before then, Davidson claims, there was only a concept of sexual "perversity," in the sense of generalized vice in which individuals culpably involved themselves by choice. In his view, nineteenth-century science radically transformed understandings of sex so that "the etiology of perversion was thought to be constitutional," not volitional, and then, as never before, "the distinction between perversity and perversion was in principle easily drawn." That argument reiterates the acts paradigm and depends upon an oversimplified chronological dichotomy between nineteenth-century "homosexuality" and prior "sodomy," as if the latter, understood by Davidson as a legal and moral category or criminal vice, exhausts all possibilities of former same-sexual experience, conceptions, and definitions. Before sexuality’s emergence in the late 1800s, he assumes, same-sexual lovers could only appear types of sinner who just differed from the rest of the population in the mode of temptation to which they willfully and momentarily succumbed through a "deficiency of the will." Their behavior was a vice, they themselves "merely evil or wicked." They were not conceivable as types of persons characterized by some putatively intrinsic differences of mind or body relative to others. Since moral theology and law are the sole bases of Davidson’s notions of what could be conceived about same-sexual desires and behaviors prior to 1800, in his view those human realities could only be understood according to sodomy as "a legal category, defined in terms of certain specifiable behavior," and as "a vice, a problem for morality and law." "All we find before the nineteenth century are descriptions of sodomy. Perversion is a thoroughly modern phenomenon." Nineteenth-century scientific conceptualizations of sex thus appear strikingly new in Davidson’s representation, but at the cost of argumentative circularity: the parameters of inquiry are so restricted that the hypothesis is bound to appear confirmed. That methodological problem afflicts many efforts to assign to sexual history some specific turning point corresponding to the distinction between sexual acts and identities. They focus on legal and theological evidence, or cite prior such studies, and conclude that only same sex sexual acts or sins were conceivable prior to some historical moment. But legal and theological standpoints were necessarily acts-based anyway, for they were concerned to hold the sexual sinner or offender responsible for a specific sex act, so that his or her attendant interiorities and personal traits were irrelevant and even dangerous distractions from the purposes of conviction and exemplary humiliation. Evidence drawn from those disciplines proves nothing about the conceptual limits of premodern sexual thought unless we assume it could only operate within those disciplinary domains. Since the biographical evidence of same-sexual! pursuits in the past is scant due to oppression, insofar as we are interested in perceived sexual interiorities, dispositions, and predispositions we had best turn to the former visual arts, imaginative literature, and sciences. In any case, we cannot confidently assess the extent to which nineteenth-century science was doing anything new with sexual topics, and in what ways, without thorough investigation of those topics in preceding science. That will require much research by many scholars over several decades. It is nonetheless already clear that scientific notions of constitutionally based sexual perversions far antedate the nineteenth century. This is not to say that the" concepts of sexuality and homosexuality advanced in the late 1800s were nothing new. But definition of the degree, nature, and implications of their novelty requires historically informed and nuanced approaches. In view of medieval comments that attribute "to the Sodomite many of the kinds of features that Foucault finds only in the nineteenth-century definition" of the homosexual, such as a "sodomitic anatomy and physiology, personal history, and secret community," Mark D. Jordan observes that "the invention of the homosexual may well have relied on the already familiar category of the Sodomite. The idea that same-sex pleasure constitutes an identity of some kind is clearly the work of medieval theology." Whether same-sex sexual relations were attributable to willful vice or to constitutional traits of certain individuals, and to what extents, had been questionable from scientific standpoints in the postclassical West since probably the twelfth century. Various theories of innate same-sexual affinities had circulated in ancient Greek and Roman medicine, astrology, and physiognomy, and in their Arabic developments. In the later Middle Ages, texts incorporating or reflecting some of those ideas became newly accessible in the West and began gaining cultural influence. (Borris, and Rousseau editors. The Sciences of Homosexuality in early Modern Europe, p.8-9)

The nineteenth century has a special place in the making of western sex. The terms heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, sadist, masochis, indeed sexuality itself all date from that period are found in the works of those who came to be called the sexologist, those who made a scientific study of sexual behavior. Following the great Michel Foucault, Arnold Davidson has argued that the nineteenth century saw an epistemological or conceptual shift, with the emergence of a new structures of knowledge and a new style of reasoning. The science of sexuality, he writes made it possible, even inevitable, for us to become preoccupied with our true sexuality. Thus our existence became a sexistence saturated with the promises and threats of sexuality. Both the word sexuality and our sense of it date from the nineteenth century: according to the Oxford English Dictionary. (Phillips and Reay. Sex Before Sexuality A Premodern History, p.7)

Bibliography

Borris, Kenneth and George Rousseau editors. The Sciences of Homosexuality in early Modern Europe. Routledge. London and New York, 2008.

Cocks, H. G. and Matt Houlbrook editors. Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality. Palgrave MacMillian. New York, 2006.

Davidson, Arnold I. The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA and London, 2001.

Hacking, Ian. Making Up People. p. 222-236 in Reconstructing Individualism Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry.

Phillips, Kim M. and Barry Reay. Sex Before Sexuality A Premodern History. Polity Press. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA, 2011.

Waters, Chris. Sexology. p. 41-63 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality editors H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook.


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