Hidden foundations of disgust

reevaluating the existential nature of disgust

Tomas Šinkunas

pp. 226-249

In spite of the many important findings made within the theory of emotions, scholars still struggle to coherently account for the unique structure of disgust or determine its essence. In contrast to much of the contemporary literature on disgust, I aim to show that, through employing the phenomenological method in his 1929 essay “Disgust” (Der Ekel), Aurel Kolnai was able to grasp the real significance of the phenomenon of disgust. The current study aims to clarify and present Kolnai’s insight into the nature of disgust wherein the latter is first and foremost conceived as an ambivalent, multifaceted, but coherent phenomenon. Namely, as a defense mechanism that reacts against the proximity of a disturbing object charged with an ambiguous value of confusion that fluctuates between surplus of life and intention towards death. In order to achieve this goal, I present Kolnai’s notion of disgust by first focusing on the foreground of the phenomena of disgust: the essential features of the intentional content of disgust, the object of disgust in particular. I then present and analyze the life-death complex as the underlying structures of the visceral sense of disgust. Lastly, I show how the lifedeath complex relates to the visceral sense of disgust, thereby affirming the coherence of disgust

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Full citation:

Šinkunas, T. (2017). Hidden foundations of disgust: reevaluating the existential nature of disgust. Horizon 6 (2), pp. 226-249.

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