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The Anatomy of Disgust, Paperback / softback Book

The Anatomy of Disgust Paperback / softback


William Miller details our anxious relation to basic life processes; eating, excreting, fornicating, decaying, and dying.

But disgust pushes beyond the flesh to vivify the larger social order with the idiom it commandeers from the sights, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds of fleshly physicality.

Disgust and contempt, Miller argues, play crucial political roles in creating and maintaining social hierarchy.

Democracy depends less on respect for persons than on an equal distribution of contempt.

Disgust, however, signals dangerous division. Miller argues that disgust is deeply grounded in our ambivalence to life: it distresses us that the fair is so fragile, so easily reduced to foulness, and that the foul may seem more than passing fair in certain slants of light.

When we are disgusted, we are attempting to set bounds, to keep chaos at bay.

Of course we fail. But, as Miller points out, our failure is hardly an occasion for despair, for disgust also helps to animate the world, and to make it a dangerous, magical and exciting place.


  • Format: Paperback / softback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Ethics & moral philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780674031555

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