Repression and Disgust

Colin McGinn

in The Meaning of Disgust

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199829538
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919482 | DOI:
Repression and Disgust

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If disgust is an aversive emotion, and we feel disgust toward ourselves, then it follows that we are averse to ourselves. But we would rather not be averse to ourselves. It doesn't feel good to feel bad about yourself. When we don't feel good about a fact, we sometimes resort to certain psychological maneuvers to protect ourselves from the fact in question. We desire that something not be so that we know to be so, and we react by denying that fact to ourselves. This is the phenomenon of repression. This chapter claims that we are repressed about our disgustingness, and that this too is an essential part of the human condition. We are epistemically repressed with respect to the knowledge of our disgustingness: we try to shut out the knowledge we have of this fact about ourselves. The goal of the repressive project is entirely epistemic; it is not at all the same as trying to stifle disgusting desires or some such.

Keywords: disgust; repression; aversive emotions; human condition

Chapter.  4417 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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