Essay on Analysis of Martha Nussbaum’s novel, From Disgust to Humanity

Essay on Analysis of Martha Nussbaum’s novel, From Disgust to Humanity

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Martha Nussbaum’s novel, From Disgust to Humanity, demonstrates a change in time where our society is moving forward from politics of disgust to politics of humanity. According to Nussbaum, the politics of disgust is a viewpoint that connects homosexual activities with things that are normally categorized as disgusting, such as saliva, feces, semen, and blood. These practices performed by homosexuals tend to invoke the emotion of disgust; thus, the term politics of disgust. The politics of humanity is quite the contrary. An individual’s freedom, liberty, and decisions are looked upon with utmost respect regardless of others’ personal attitudes, as long as they don’t inflict harm on the bystanders. In Nussbaum’s From Disgust to Humanity, disgust stands as the reason for discrimination against homosexuals. Using several descriptive examples that relate to privacy, sodomy laws, discrimination, marriage, and public sex, she is able to bring out disgust’s two main challengers: respect and the use of imagination to sympathize to argue that disgust should not be held as a criteria to create discrimination laws against homosexuals.
Quite interesting, Nussbaum’s opens up the preface with an example of a gay teenager who describes his experiences when “coming out of the closet”. The teenager admits to being horrified and disgustful towards his own emotions that weren’t passing, as they should. Through this example, Nussbaum distinguishes between the two perspectives that are in our society today regarding homosexuals. The contrast lays “between people who can ‘sort of experience’ what a gay teenager feels and people who simply think of those desires, and no doubt, the teenagers themselves, ‘as being disgusting’”(Nussbaum xiii). She even go...


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...e’s shoes using imagination, it is difficult to decide on which ideals are equal and which are not and equality promotes respect. Martha Nussbaum takes great caution and goes into great detail to educate the world on the fact that just because a behavior is found to be disgusting, it shouldn’t be used as the deciding factor for a regulation or a ban. As Nussbaum puts it “constitutional law expresses our deepest sense, as a society, of what freedom and equality are; of what it means to have fundamental rights; of what it means to have certain protected areas of both liberty and equality that are seen as inherent in the very idea of human dignity” (Nussbaum 208). Constitutional law should be based of what is equal for all and what promotes libertarian interests among the people. Discrimination shouldn’t get in the way of letting this occur especially through disgust.

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