Daniel Kelly has written a book which explains the human emotion of disgust, how it originated and how humans should fight the temptation to act on it. (Photo courtesy The Page 99 Test)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - An Illinois Wesleyan alum is warning against the dangers of turning up your nose too often.
Dan Kelly, now an associate professor of philosophy at Purdue University, has written the book Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust. He said disgust is unique to humans and we must fight the instinct to dehumanize behavior, objects and even people we find disgusting.
"It's so tempting to use disgust when making moral arguments or debating moral issues, because it's such a powerful emotion, but I think there's something illegitimate and maybe even dangerous in feeling disgust," Kelly said.
"Disgust makes it much easier to ostracize people who become the object of disgust, that makes it much easier to deny them moral rights because they're not fully human in one way or another."
Kelly said humans developed disgust as a protection against consuming poisonous foods and catching infectious diseases.
He said he became interested in studying disgust after a conversation with his graduate advisor over a Chinatown meal of blood tofu and duck tongue soup.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.