The Naked Human Body – A Fundamental Moral Problem

The English Language version of the People's Daily Online

The English Language version of the People’s Daily Online

I was reading an article from the People’s Daily Online, a Chinese newspaper, called, “Should naked human body be used as art symbol?” After having spent a number of years in China, I remain interested in the people and the country. Over the years, there have been a number of articles that wrestle with the issue of nudity in public. Nudity in private is a different matter in China. But, this isn’t really about nudity or non-nudity in China, it’s about how humans have found themselves in a very tight spot.

Nudity and art in China - April, 2005

Nudity and art in China – April, 2005

All humans are naked beneath their clothing, an evident fact when one is forced to remove a set of clothing for another set (there are people who avoid complete nudity by changing clothes under a loose robe) or when one takes a shower or bath (and yes, some people take showers and baths with some form of clothing to hide their nudity). In spite of the fact that we are naturally naked, being born without clothing, as a modern human species, we have a problem with that body. In simple terms, we find our bodies to be our enemies. And, it isn’t simply a matter of body-image where the right bit of plastic surgery or the right diet and/or exercise program will gift us with perfect bodies and therefore put an end to our obsessive love-hate relationship with our bodies. The problem goes deeper than that, much deeper.

Those who claim to be wise, tell us that it is all about religion, especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Religion is the rationale for strictures against nudity inthe western world. Legal codes arise from church codes. A good case can be made for this, but it too simple of an explanation as it falls apart when we look both within and outside of the purview of these religions when it comes to accepting the naturalness of a naked human body.

4 thoughts on “The Naked Human Body – A Fundamental Moral Problem

  1. ” What a piece of work is man , how infinite in faculty , in form and movement how express and admirable ” . That line speaks to my understanding of men and women as art forms – not in and of themselves but rather as vehicles through which the world and the artist come to know art . I can appreciate the act of resistance or rebellion here but would not call this art as I have come to know it . I think the object of art stands alone outside of it’s creator and so we have music , literature , and painting , that transcend both the artist and his creation . That’s my opinion .


    • In my opinion, David, the human is a work of art in and of him or herself. Of course we need to go beneath the surface, to glimpse the workings and circumambulations of the soul to glimpse that art. The art of poets and painters and sculptors gives us glimpses of that natural human artistry.


  2. Just raises so many more questions . Who made this art form – me . My mother , my father , God , the structure of my DNA …… The wounded soul who has become a derelict , a drunk , a self mutilating individual whose brain has begun to attack itself ?Hard to find a beauty in distortion or gross images that reflect an other side of our nature and if we are the end in ourselves why create at all ? I prefer to think it is the individuals personal experience expressed in it’s interaction with the object that produces a singular new object – the art object .

    just an aside . Yesterday I ordered the Camino guide book you suggested and I’m looking forward to reading it . I want to do this before I become too old and physically challenged . Perhaps I am already . The book will help me to determine that . And if I plan far out enough in advance I’ll know better what to expect .

    Also ordered a book devoted to Jung and hoping to get a deeper understanding of his work . Thank You .


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