Over the past year, we have attempted a general evaluation of a number of our society's strengths and weaknesses: We have discussed the importance of the individual in a free society, the over-emphasis on conformity and security, and the need for a revitalization of both our democracy and the free-enterprise system through greater stress on the uncommon man, and uncommon endeavor and accomplishment; we have considered the importance of the separation of church and state to a democracy and pointed out how, throughout history, whenever government and religion were not kept apart, an erosion of man's liberty was certain to ensue; we've discussed censorship and how a free society cannot long remain free without the full protection of free speech and press, and the uninhibited expression of even the most unpopular and, to some perhaps, objectionable ideas; we've analyzed obscenity and demonstrated how a single suppression of free expression can be used to outlaw a wide variety of unpopular opinions and actions; we have documented the historical sources of many of our antisexual concepts, considered America's own puritanical heritage, the current Sexual Revolution and our society's search for a new sexual morality.
Because the area covered in the first 12 installments of The Playboy Philosophy has been so broad, our first, quite general discussion has left a number of questions still to be answered and a great many side considerations yet to be explored. As we enter into the second year of this continuing editorial series, we will attempt to answer some of the numerous queries raised by readers along the way (we cannot mention our readers without pausing to note that the enthusiastic response to these editorials has made the effort expended on them a most gratifying experience) and try to offer positive solutions to some of the societal problems we face in our time.
We have spent most of the past few installments on an historical analysis of sex suppression and a consideration of how this antisexual aspect of society has created a censorship of communication among free men in both the past and the present. In the months ahead, we will discuss contemporary sex behavior and its conflict with our professed religious and moral teaching; we will consider the gap that exists between sex behavior and the law, and the effect such a hypocritical schism can have upon a community's mental and moral health. We will discuss sexual responsibility, both in and outside of marriage; the importance of the family in raising children; divorce, birth control, abortion, prostitution; and such nonsexual moral problems as racial discrimination, capital punishment, legalized gambling and drug addiction.
We will comment on the changing roles of men and women in contemporary America, our drift toward an asexual society, and the inherent dangers we foresee in such a trend, for men and women alike; we will consider the single vs. the double standard in sexual morality and attempt to analyze the positive and negative aspects of both. While our principal concern will remain the individual and his relationship with himself, with other individuals, and with his society, we will also consider the broader implication involved in the international morality of nations and world responsibility in the Atomic Age.
Out of these various fragments, we hope to evolve and set down our personal philosophy for a happier, healthier, more productive, more rational, more truly human and humane world. We will state our views as frankly and honestly as we know how, confident that our readers will respect our candor and the sincerity of our intent, even when they find themselves in disagreement with some of our conclusions. As in the past, we will welcome the reactions—both positive and negative—of our readers, believing above all else that the free exchange of ideas on subjects such as these offers the surest guarantee of our society's continued growth and freedom.
Society and the Individual
Our view of the world is predicated on the paramountcy of the individual and each person's inherent individuality. Society benefits as much from the differences in men as from their similarities, and we should create a culture that not only accepts these differences, but respects and actually nurtures them. We have previously stressed the value of the rebel to society, not because we feel that mere rebellion or the desire to be different is beneficial in itself, but because the rebel attitude, and the divergent ideas it produces, are essential to progress. Through constant questioning, reevaluation and reanalysis of established ideas, ideals, traditions and "truths" of a society, we stand the best chance of discovering more significant ideas, establishing better traditions and learning greater truths.
In addition, we believe that each individual has a right to explore his own individuality—to discover himself, as well as the world around him—and to take pride in himself and the individuality that sets him apart from the rest of mankind, as fully as he takes pride in the kinship that links him to every other man on earth—past, present and future. A society should exist not only for the purpose of establishing common areas of agreement among men, but also to aid each person in achieving his own individual identity.
It is important to remember that our American democracy is based not simply on the will of the majority, but on the protection of the will of the minority. And the smallest minority in society is the individual.
A Rational Society
Second, we believe in a society based upon reason. The mind of a man sets him apart from the lower animals and we believe that man should use his intellect to create an ever more perfect, productive, comfortable, fulfilling, happy, healthy and rational society.
We believe in the existence of absolute truth—not in a mystical or religious sense, but in the certainty that the true nature of man and the universe is knowable, and the conviction that the acquisition of such truth should be one of the major goals of mankind. Truth may play a part in religious dogma, but we think it presumptuous for any one religion to assume it has the inside track on truth, divinely revealed. We think it natural that man be awed by the overwhelming marvel and magnitude of the universe in which he exists, and if this awe leads to reverence, faith and worship, that, too, may enhance his spiritual awareness and his sense of wonder.
It is only when faith in the unknown produces resistance to the acquisition of greater knowledge that we oppose it—or when the perversion of faith produces bigotry, intolerance, or totalitarian intimidation, coercion, persecution or subjugation of those of different beliefs.
There is a curious philosophical inconsistency in the fact that while science is based primarily upon reason and religion primarily on faith, it is science that currently stresses man's inability to use his rational mind (projected in the theory of determinism, in which man is seen as the sum of his heredity and environment) and religion which stresses free will and responsibility (making him accountable in an afterlife, where he is punished or rewarded for his actions).
It is our view that man is a rational being and while his heredity and environment play a major role in setting the pattern of his life, he possesses the ability to reason and the capacity for choice, not granted to the lower animals, whose response to life is instinctually predetermined. The use, or lack of use, of his rational mind is, itself, a choice and we favor a society in which the emphasis is placed upon the use of reason—a society that recognizes man's responsibility for his actions.
We believe in a moral and law-abiding society, but one in which the morality and the laws are based upon logic and reason rather than mysticism or religious dogma.
A Free Society
Third, we believe that man was born to be free, that freedom should be his most cherished birthright, and that it should be society's function to see that his freedom is preserved.
Freedom in a rational society must have its limitations, of course, but the limitations should be logical and just, commencing at that point where one man's freedom infringes upon the freedom of others.
Society also has the right to limit the freedom of those who have broken its laws; who, because of mental or emotional disorder, are incapable of conducting themselves rationally within society; and those who have not yet reached an age at which they may be expected to accept the responsibilities of the full freedom granted to adults.
Happiness and the Pleasure Concept
Fourth, the primary goal of society should be individual happiness. We believe that pleasure is preferable to pain and that any doctrine which teaches otherwise is masochistic.
Happiness and pleasure are mental and physical states of being and society should emphasize the positive aspects of both. For many individuals, happiness includes spiritual values: They should be free to follow their spiritual beliefs, but not to force them upon others.
For ourselves, any doctrine is evil if it teaches that ignorance is preferable to knowledge, pain is preferable to pleasure, self-denial is preferable to self-gratification, poverty is preferable to wealth; or that the acquisition and enjoyment of material possessions is improper or wrong, and that they preclude ethical and moral rectitude, creativity, usefulness to society and all other admirable qualities presumed, by some, to be the sole property of the self-sacrificial.
We believe that a society that emphasizes the individual and his freedom, is based upon reason, and has happiness as its aim is an ideal society and the one to be strived for.