More Disgusting Thoughts

In my last post “Why Is This Disgusting?” I talked about how most of the foods we find disgusting come from animals.  That does not mean some people don’t hate brussel sprouts or egg plant, it just means that most foods that we find repulsive are from animals.

But what else do we find disgusting that is not related to food?  Think about it.  Vomit, puss, poop, burps, piss, farts, some sexual practices, rotting flesh, gore, and snot are also things that come from or are related to animals.  According to Paul Rozin, humans tend to withdraw from, and be disgusted by, anything that reminds us that we are biological creatures.  It is like a defense mechanism to keep us from being aware that we are part of the animal world.

Why are we afraid to acknowledge our “animalness”?   Is it because we are afraid to believe that we are mortal?  Do our biological functions and animalistic drives force us to let go of the fantasy that we will live forever?

In his book Ishmael, Daniel Quinn writes that the story of Adam and Eve is allegorical rather than literal.  Man’s fall from grace occurred when humans left the Garden of Eden and separating themselves from the rest of animal kingdom.  Original sin was not a bite from an apple, but a choice to live outside of the natural order that all other animals adhere to.  Since that time, we have been doing everything we can to prove our superiority and dominion over nature.

Have we come so far in our quest to be separate from animals, that we are disgusted and even morally repulsed by our own animalism?  Lust, gluttony, sloth, anger, and greed occur naturally in the animal kingdom, but in some human circles these are considered deadly sins.

I am not sure that knowing this will help me embrace all of my animal instincts and drives but I do feel much better about how much I enjoy a good belch!

    • vitamin d
    • March 14th, 2010

    this is kinda tangentail to the point of your posts, but, of course, part of our disgust of things is also biological – our aversion to some things is our first line of defense to not jam whatever it is in to our bodies. [agreed that many of the things you list in the previous post are learned preferences versus and not what i’m talking about] As a species we had to learn pretty quickly not to eat things after they turn rancid or to avoid the smell of decay simply because these were breeding grounds for disease. There is also an evolutionary sharpening of our senses for the species. Those who did not posess the gene for distinguishing healthy from something fatal were removed from the pool.

    • Right you are Mr. Squid. Part of the disgust reaction is biological and other animals besides humans show disgust at things that are potentially dangerous to eat. However there is no biological imperative for us to avoid eating many of the foods we find disgusting. The pickled pigs feet in the supermarket have no doubt passed inspection by the FDA but I am pretty sure my gag reflex would kick in if I tried to put one in my mouth.

  1. Dude! So glad to have found your blog! Its been great to kick back in a few during a few lectures toady and read some of your recent posts…they remind me of all the conversations we had driving back late at night from runs or meets …good times.

    …I’ve kind of always been curious about these little ancient seeming treasures locked away in our Brains?Minds?DNA?Psyche? and have wondered what their trigger or use is or was. Disgust can be learned, but it seems like it can be passed on too and shared in common with our culture and species as a whole.

    While survival instinct always deserves some merit…I wonder if it has more specifically to do with fear. when a thing seems unnatural (whether in taste, sight, sound, smell, touch, cadence, etc) then we tend to react adversely to it. Whats so bad about the unknown?! Perhaps its another step in self mastery, to rise above the fear of the nasty!

    All I know is, even though I was able to down a few blood sausages on my mission in Germany, theres no way I’ll be getting anywhere near those fetal eggs!!

    • Brady – Those conversations were amazing! If you remember some of your favorites, remind me and I will recap them here. Good to know you are doing well!

    • Anonymous
    • March 15th, 2010

    flatulence is always funny…

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