Eroticism (from the Greek ἔρως, eros—"desire") is a philosophical contemplation with a focus on the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love. Unlike sensuality, which concentrates on the pleasures of the senses, eroticism is concerned with heightening those pleasures. To achieve that objective, eroticism can involve a delay in sexual gratification in order to intensify the satisfaction level by extending the period of yearning desire.
Eroticism is conceived as sensual or romantic love or the human sex drive (libido) and is the personification of Eros, the Greek god of love.
Ancient Greek philosophy’s overturning of mythology defines in many ways our understanding of the heightened aesthetic sense in eroticism and the question of sexuality. Eros was after all the primordial god of unhinged sexual desire in addition to heteroeroticism, which is the yearning of sexual desire from the opposite sex. In the Platonic ordered system of ideal forms, Eros corresponds to the subject's yearning for ideal beauty and finality. It is the harmonious unification not only between bodies, but between knowledge and pleasure. Eros takes an almost transcendent manifestation when the subject seeks to go beyond itself and form a communion with the objectival other.
The French philosopher Georges Bataille argued that eroticism performs a function of dissolving boundaries between human subjectivity and humanity, a transgression that dissolves the rational world but is always temporary. It is something disruptive and disorderly.
Yet an objection to eros and erotic representation is that it fosters a subject/object relationship in which the object of desire is mere projection of the needs of desiring subject. Love as eros is considered more base than philia (friendship) or agape (self-sacrificing love). But erotic engagement paradoxically individuates and de-individuates the desirer.
The third kind of love, physio, is directly related with the amount of sex drive that the brain feels upon encountering an erotic moment.
Some believe defining eroticism may be difficult since perceptions of what is erotic fluctuate. For example, a voluptuous nude painting by Peter Paul Rubens could have been considered erotic when it was created for a private patron in the 17th century. Similarly in the United Kingdom and United States, D. H. Lawrence's sexually explicit novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was considered obscene and unfit for publication and circulation in many nations thirty years after it was completed in 1928, but may now be part of standard literary school texts in some areas. In a different context, a sculpture of a phallus in Africa may be considered a traditional symbol of potency though not overtly erotic.
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