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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 various means to incite those feelings.


The word "eroticism" is derived from the name of the Greek god of love, Eros, or Cupid. It is conceived as sensual love or the human sex drive (libido). Philosophers and theologians discern four kinds of love: eros, philia, physio, and agape. Of the four, 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 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 believed eroticism was a movement towards the limits of our own subjectivity and humanity, a transgression that dissolves the rational world but is always temporary.

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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Simple English

Eroticism is the quality of sexual excitement. In other words, if something is sexually exciting, then it is said to be erotic. Eroticism is an erotic feeling. It is named after Eros, the Ancient Greek god of love.

Many types of things can be part of eroticism. Things that make a person feel erotic (sexually aroused or excited) include the sight, touch, smell, and sound of another person. A person may feel erotic when they see or touch or smell, or hear someone that they love in a sexual way. They may also have erotic feelings about a person that they do not love, but who is sexually attractive to them.

Sometimes eroticism has nothing to do with another person. A person might feel erotic from watching a movie, looking at pictures in a magazine, listening to a piece of music, reading a story or article, or just thinking their own thoughts, or being aware of their own body.


What makes eroticism?

Some things are designed and made especially to make people feel erotic. Things that are designed to make people feel erotic are called "erotica". This word is most often used for art, books and magazines.

  • Art Sometimes artists create erotic works of art such as drawings, paintings and sculpture. They might do this because they want to make a record of a person or a relationship that is special to them. But more often, artists make erotic art for people who would like to buy it.
  • Books Many books have been written that tell erotic stories, or which give advice about how to make love in an erotic way.
  • Movies Many people enjoy watching erotic movies.
  • Magazines Many magazines have lots of photos of people naked or in sexy clothing, and with erotic expressions and gestures (actions).
  • Avertising Erotic photos are often used for advertising. For example, a beautiful young woman with an erotic expression on her face might be used to advertise hair products, clothes, chocolates, cars, and all sorts of other things.
  • Clothing Some clothing is designed to look erotic. Some underwear, in particular, is especially designed to look erotic.
  • Food Some food is said to make people feel erotic. Food can also be used as an erotic sign or be eaten in an erotic way.
  • Perfume Many perfumes have substances in them that effect the human brain in a way that makes a person feel erotic.

Eroticism and pornography

Most people believe there is a difference between erotica and pornography, but some people have argued that all erotica is "pornographic". (In other words, some people believe that all pictures, movies or writing which are sexually exciting are rude and wrong, and should not be made.)

People who have studied this subject say that erotica is not harmful to anyone, and may be helpful with people's loving relationships. The same writers say that pornography, which generally shows a person being treated without respect or love, is not helpful with people's loving relationships.[1][2]

Other pages


  1. Erotica is Not Pornography, William J. Gehrke, The Tech, December 10, 1996
  2. Don't confuse erotica with porn, Jug Suraiya, The Times of India, August 15, 2004.


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