Notion and Aspects of Monogamy
Traditionally there are two meanings of monogamy: one is applied to marriage of human beings, described specifically by Aristotelianism and Thomism as rational animals (in Latin: animal rationale). The other also encompasses relationships between non-human animals.
Among human beings monogamy has two aspects:
- principle of marrying only once in a lifetime, opposed to digamy
- marriage with only one person at a time, opposed to bigamy or polygamy
Monogamy, as applied to human marriage, is explored by human sciences or humanities which assume as a principle that capacities or attributes associated with personhood substantially distinguish human beings from the rest of the animal world. Karol Wojtyła in his book Love and Responsibility postulated that monogamy, as an institutional union of two people being in love with one another, was an embodiment of an ethical personalistic norm, and thus the only means of making true human love possible.
Human monogamy's legal aspects are taught at faculties of law. There are also philosophical aspects, the field of interest of e.g. philosophical anthropology and philosophy of religion, as well as theological ones.
The second meaning of monogamy, relating to non-rational animals as well as humans is a major field of interest in biology and other related disciplines.
Modern researchers, along the lines of the theory of evolution, approach human monogamy as not intrinsically different from any other metazoan monogamy. They postulate the following four aspects of monogamy:
- Social monogamy refers to two partners living together, having sex with each other, and cooperating in acquiring basic resources such as shelter, food, and money.
- Sexual monogamy refers to two partners remaining sexually exclusive with each other and having no outside sex partners.
- Genetic monogamy refers to two partners only having offspring with each other.
- Marital monogamy refers to marriages of only two people.
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