Deborah Solomon interviews Martha Nussbaum in The New York Times Magazine:
Your inquiries have lately revolved around the politics of physical revulsion, which you see as the subtext for opposition to same-sex marriage.
What is it that makes people think that a same-sex couple living next door would defile or taint their own marriage when they don’t think that, let’s say, some flaky heterosexual living next door would taint their marriage? At some level, disgust is still operating.
In your book “From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law,” which will be out in February, you draw a distinction between primary disgust and projective disgust.
What becomes really bad is the projective kind, meaning projecting smelliness, sliminess and stickiness ontoa group of people who are then stigmatized and regarded as inferior.
On the other hand, might one argue that disgust has been a positive force in evolution, keeping people away from dirt and germs?
We are disgusted by lots of things that are not really dangerous, such as a sterilized cockroach, as studies have found.
Do you find blood disgusting?
Blood in your veins is not disgusting. It’s when blood comes into the open that it gets to be disgusting. The common property of all these primary disgust objects is that they are reminders of our animality and mortality.