Disgust is distinct from contemplative disapproval. We see disgust as an outdated, backward irrational response that is ostensibly harmful and presumably unnecessary.
I am disgusted by the sight of mealworms. With contemplation though, I know they are harmless. Other things are disgusting — and dangerous, like rotting bodies. By being thoughtful and empirical we can treat the difference.
We are disgusted by racism and homophobia i.e. meta-disgusted. It’s OK to be disgusted at those who are disgusted by others, i.e. racists and homophobes. Here is an opportunity to take a step back though. Is it possible that in both cases we are being led and perhaps misled by the same emotion? Gosh, do I hate the sight of mealworms.
The modern world has a contempt for contemplation. Has your disgust has driven you away from perspectives and realities that you would have otherwise discovered? Doctors must overcome their disgust to treat the symptoms and then contemplate to discover the causes of disease.
It would be a sad world if our tribes were delineated along these basic lines of who we are disgusted by. You know we tend to rationalize our disgust if we don’t contemplate and investigate.
Or perhaps there’s nothing worth investigating here. Just a rotting body…
Would that be cowardly? I certainly think so. It would be easy and convenient.
I’d rather put on my gloves, safety-first, and just investigate!
Come with me!
In this blog I will speak in terms of tribes and moral intuitions. Economic costs and benefits. Evolutionary pressures. Hang on for the ride. I hope that you will be both disgusted and in awe.
It’s an awesome world we live in, and disgust is not going away.