Philosophical naturism

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Floris van den Berg

If you want a different view on naturism than you can talk to Floris van de Berg, a teacher on The University of Utrecht. He wrote many books on subjects as atheism, feminism and veganism. And in those books he often mentioned, as a side note, naturism. His friends often asked him to write a book about that subject, since he has a different way of approaching the lifestyle so many people love and live. And so he did: ‘The happy naturist’ (in Dutch: ‘De vrolijke naturist’).  He wanted to talk about naturism from a more philosophical point of view. In an interview with Het Parool (a Dutch newspaper) he was asked a few questions to promote the book.

For Floris paradise is a vegan naturist resort. Where the open atmosphere and true feeling of freedom are the main ingredients to be able to live a happy life. It is a philosophy. Something you might expect from the philosopher Floris is – that is laso the reason why he is on the cover of his book as ‘The Thinker’ of Rodin. But in real life he is more a naturist by theory, since he keeps his nude time limited to visiting saunas and the occasional nude beach. But maybe that is philosophical naturism in it’s core. He is one of two million people from The Netherlands that enjoy spending time naked. On a population of just about 17 million people you can state that naturism/nudism/nude recreation is very popular in Holland.

While writing the book he discovered that a country with a flourishing naturist subculture is probably an open and free society in general. “With the former DDR (German Democratic Republic) as a rare exception. You see, you will not find anything like it in Saudi Arabia, for instance. Mainly because there is one important ingredient missing: equality of sexes. At least, that is my starting point from a political and philosophical point of view.” Dr Van den Berg states.

In most countries naturism and nudism is only accommodated in ‘special areas’. According to (another) philosopher Bouke de Vries that limitation is ‘under par’ for a true free democracy. He advocates for new laws that actually regulate public nudity by law. Floris agrees: “It should be up to you if you prefer to wear a burka or nothing at all. I follow the rule that everything is allowed as long you don’t harm others. With the ultimate consequence that it even should be possible to have sex in public. And public meaning: a forest or a beach or some other place in nature where you could be enjoy doing ‘it’. I really don’t understand that some people ‘panic’ when they see two people loving each other. Especially if you take into consideration that it is totally allowed to blow someone’s head of in a movie or a video game but nudity is not. But I do understand that the right to have sex in the dunes goes against our deeply cherished intuition.”

He continues: “Studying naturism in a specific country teaches you how that society and its citizens look at your body. What taboos exist? What does it mean to be a human? How should we interact with each other? Nudity comes way too close when you are in a university. But in and around your own home?”. He also mentions another taboo. One within the naturist community self: not judging each other. “Naturism is for everyone. Whether you are tall, small, pretty or ugly: please join in. But it is inappropriate to judge his or her body. Total nonsense! I see a lot of people that don’t take care of their body and have considerable overweight. I think that I at least should be able to Think(!) that it is not okay to ruin your body like that. It is unhealthy! Maybe a good conversation would help take back control.”

All things considered the book of Floris van den Berg is, at the least, a starting point for discussion. That is what philosophy should be about in general anyway. And with that philosophical naturism we can get closer to a more modern version of naturism. Not the naturism the INF stands for.

And be aware that in his home country there is actually a law that allows nudity outside of the ‘reservoirs’ for nudists and naturists. As long as the area is suitable for nude recreation there is no objection to go nude. It is actually one of the most liberal countries in the world on this matter. So the step he takes may not be the ‘giant leap’ it is in most other countries.

Book: Floris van den Berg, De vrolijke naturist. Filosoferen over schaamte en naakte levenskunst.

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