Eroticism is an aesthetic focus on sexual desire, especially the feelings of anticipation of sexual activity. It is not only the state of arousal and anticipation, but also the attempt through whatever means of representation to incite those feelings.

The word "eroticism" is derived from the name of the Greek god of love, Eros. It is conceived as sensual love or the human sex drive (libido). Philosophers and theologians discern three kinds of love: eros, philia, and agape. Of the three, eros is considered the most egocentric, focusing on care for the self.

Ancient Greek philosophy’s overturning of mythology defines in many ways our understanding of the heightened aesthetics 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 believed eroticism was a movement towards the limits of our own subjectivity and humanity, a transgression that dissolves the rational world but is always transitory.

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.

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 or pornographic 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.

ee also

* Erotica
* History of erotic depictions
* Eros
* Homoeroticism
* Human sexuality
* Paraphilia
* Love magic
* Romance
* Sexual fantasy
* History of erotic photography
* Erotic art
* Sexual arousal

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • eroticism — [er′ə tiz΄əmē rät′ə siz΄əm, irät′ə siz m] n. 1. erotic quality or character 2. a) sexual instincts or desire b) sexual excitement or behavior 3. preoccupation with sex: Also, and for EROTICISM 2: now usually, erotism [er′ə tiz΄əm] …   English World dictionary

  • Eroticism — E*rot i*cism, n. Erotic quality. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • eroticism — 1881, from EROTIC (Cf. erotic) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • eroticism — [n] sexual excitement arousal, libido, lust, stimulation, titillation; concepts 20,709 …   New thesaurus

  • eroticism — ► NOUN 1) the quality or character or being erotic. 2) sexual desire or excitement …   English terms dictionary

  • eroticism — erot·i·cism i rät ə .siz əm n 1) the arousal of or the attempt to arouse sexual feeling by means of suggestion, symbolism, or allusion (as in an art form) 2) a state of sexual arousal or anticipation (as from stimulation of erogenous zones) 3)… …   Medical dictionary

  • eroticism — [[t]ɪrɒ̱tɪsɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Eroticism is sexual excitement, or the quality of being able to arouse sexual excitement. [FORMAL] Almost all of Massenet s works are pervaded with an aura of eroticism …   English dictionary

  • eroticism — n. 1) those elements in thought, imagination, pictorial imagery, literature, or the arts that tend to arouse sexual excitement or desire. 2) sexual interest or excitement prompted by contemplation or stimulation of areas of the body not normally… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • eroticism — e|rot|i|cis|m [ıˈrɔtısızəm US ıˈra: ] n [U] a style or quality that expresses strong feelings of sexual love and desire, especially in works of art ▪ the eroticism of his early love poems …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • eroticism — noun (U) a style or quality that expresses strong feelings of sexual love and desire, especially in works of art: the eroticism of Donne s early love poems …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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