“Disgusting!” But is experiencing it some sign of sanity?

(The) sense of disgust warrants some examination. It seems that the most primitive of our five senses, the one that is least bound up with the intellect, is smell. Our eyes see color, but the mind sees things and their kinds: a dog, a house, a flower. Our ears hear vibrations, but the mind interprets and hears words, which themselves are signs of things, many of which are abstract at that. But the smell is immersed in chemicals, in stuff—in stuff most urgent for basic animal life: flesh, blood, excrement, hormones for rutting, and other secretions. What smells good to a vulture, flesh rotting in the sun, smells repugnant to us, because eating such flesh would be bad for us. The smell is then protective; it keeps us from tasting even a little of something that would sicken or kill.

In every language that I know of, words that have to do with bad smells are applied to certain kinds of wicked deeds, …

The Uses of Disgust 



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