In the past that fateful determination has usually been made helplessly, ignorantly, almost unconsciously. It has either been guided by an instinct which, on the whole, has worked out fairly well, or controlled by economic interests of the results of which so much cannot be said, or left to the risks of lower than bestial chances which can produce nothing but evil. In the future we cannot but have faith—for all the hope of humanity must rest on that faith—that a new guiding impulse, reinforcing natural instinct and becoming in time an inseparable accompaniment of it, will lead civilized man on his racial course. Just as in the past the race has, on the whole, been moulded by a natural, and in part sexual, selection, that was unconscious of itself and ignorant of the ends it made towards, so in the future the race will be moulded by deliberate selection, the creative energy of Nature becoming self-conscious in the civilized brain of man. This is not a faith which has its source in a vague hope. The problems of the individual life are linked on to the fate of the racial life, and again and again we shall find as we ponder the individual questions we are here concerned with, that at all points they ultimately converge towards this same racial end.
Since we have here, therefore, to follow out the sexual relationships of the individual as they bear on society, it will be convenient at this point to put aside the questions of ancestry and to accept the individual as, with hereditary constitution already determined, he lies in his mother's womb.
Henry Havelock Ellis, known as Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939), was an English physician, writer, progressive intellectual and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He was co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897, and also published works on a variety of sexual practices and inclinations, including transgender psychology. He is credited with introducing the notions of narcissism and autoeroticism, later adopted by psychoanalysis. He served as president of the Galton Institute and, like many intellectuals of his era, supported eugenics.
My opinions on the sexual question are based, on the one hand, on my scientific study of the human brain, and on the other hand on the long personal experience of an alienist who has devoted himself almost as much to normal mentality and questions of social hygiene as to pathological mentality. I have, however, been obliged to rely on the fundamental work of Westermark with regard to ethnology, this subject being strange to me. Concerning sexual psycho-pathology I have followed the classification of Krafft-Ebing.
The sexual question is extraordinarily complex, and we cannot expect to find a simple solution for it as we can for the questions of alcoholism, slavery, torture, etc. The latter are solved in one word—suppression. Suppression of slavery and torture; suppression of the usage of alcoholic drinks. We are concerned here with ulcers artificially produced and preserved in human society; ulcers which must be simply extirpated. Their suppression is nothing but beneficial, since, far from being connected with the normal conditions of human existence, they place it in peril. Sexual instinct and sentiment, on the contrary, have their roots in life itself; they are intimately bound up with humanity, and therefore require quite a different treatment. But human society has guided them into false and pernicious ways. It is important to turn them from these in order to tranquilize and regulate their course by damming them up and canalizing them.
The fundamental axiom of the sexual question is as follows: With man, as with all living beings, the constant object of all sexual function, and consequently of sexual love, is the reproduction of the species. It is therefore necessary to treat the question from the point of view of the natural sciences, physiology, psychology and sociology. This has already been done more than once, but usually in erudite treatises which only look upon one side of the question; or, on the other hand, in a superficial and often frivolous manner.
To ensure happiness, humanity should desire to reproduce itself in a manner which elevates progressively all the physical and mental faculties of man, with regard to health and bodily strength, as much as to sentiment, intelligence, will, creative imagination, love of work, joy of living, and the sentiment of social solidarity. Every attempt made to solve the sexual question should, therefore, be directed toward the future and toward the happiness of our descendants.