Re: "much difference is construed betwixt the naked and the

Carl Feynman (
Tue, 13 May 1997 10:59:42 -0400

At 01:57 PM 5/10/97 -0400, Perry E. Metzger wrote:

>Robin D. Hanson writes:
>> "Perry E. Metzger" writes:
>> >> I'm not sure why you think people's preferences regarding nudity would
>> >> be very different in the comon areas of a gated private development,

Here's a data point: for a while I lived in a group house where we legalized
nudity by concensus. When someone moved in who found it objectionable, we
stopped. It was never a big deal.

>> The question is whether recent historical trends are a one-time
>> historical transition, or whether it is more a matter of cycles,
>> multiple equilibria, and other contextual effects. Maybe both the very
>> prudish and the routinely nude cultures are self-consistent equilibria
>> in certain contexts. But most of human history has been between these
>> extremes, and so absent a reason to expect some fundamentally new
>> development, I'd expect future culture to also lie within historical
>> ranges.
>Note that historical ranges include primitive cultures which are, for
>our purposes, nudists, although they wouldn't think of themselves as
>I'm also not very sure about the "cycles" notion. European and North
>American body modesty mores have pretty much remained on the "prudish"
>side of the line from the fall of Rome until the last century. Thats a
>very long cycle indeed! I suspect that the primacy of Christianity had
>more to do with it than "natural cycles".

I seem to recall that public nudity was unremarkable in western Europe until
roughly 1500. Not that people went around all day in the nude, but it would
not be unreasonable to happen upon someone bathing or changing clothes in
public. That's my recollection of what I read a while ago in "The History
of Manners" by Norbert Elias. Unfortunatey, I read that in the first
volume, and now when I look on my bookshelves, I can only find the ^#^%&
second volume.