On Disgust

On Disgust

On Disgust

On Disgust

Synopsis

Aurel Kolnai's pioneering work carefully dissects the experience of disgust. Although the main part of the book first appeared in 1929, it has only recently become known to English-speaking philosophers, because of the new philosophical concerns with emotions, the growing respect of phenomenology, and the associated interest in Kolnai as one of the great phenomenologists. Kolnai made a breakthrough in the phenomenology of aversion when he showed the "double intentionality" of emotions like fear, focusing on both the object of fear and the subject's concern for his own well-being, this being one of the ways in which fear differs from disgust. In a surprising yet persuasive move, Kolnai argues that disgust is never related to inorganic or non-biological matter, and that its arousal by moral objects has an underlying similarity with its arousal by organic material: a particular combination of life and death. Kolnai gives an analytic list of various kinds of disgusting objects (which should not be read just before lunch), and shows how disgust relates to the five senses.

Excerpt

This volume includes two works by Aurel Kolnai, The long essay 'Disgust' is published here in English for the first time. It was written in 1927 and originally appeared in 1929 in Volume 10 of Husserl's Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung. It was immediately translated into Spanish and published by Ortega y Gasset in his journal Revista de Occidente at the end of the same year. It was republished in German in 1974 and is still in print (Moritz Geiger/Aurel Kolnai, Beiträge zur Phänomenologie des ästhetischen Genusses/Der Ekel [Max Niemeyer, 1974]), and it has been translated into French (Le dégoût, trans. Olivier Cossé [Paris: Agalma, 1997]).

The present translation of 'Disgust' has gone through a number of stages. What follows is a thoroughly revised version of a translation prepared by Kolnai's wife Elizabeth. It also takes into account some alternate readings from an earlier translation prepared by Elisabeth Gombrich, who with her art historian brother, Ernst, was like Kolnai an emigré to England from Austria. Before her death in 1982, Elizabeth Kolnai worked further on the translation with Barry Smith and encouraged him to seek a publisher. He has again revised and retranslated portions of the essay. The editors of the present volume have endeavored to cast Kolnai's ideas into idiomatic English, while at the same time heeding the demands of the technical details of the subject-matter and the phenomenological terminology embedded in Kolnai's philosophical language.

Several years before his death in 1973, Kolnai, at the request of his London colleagues, wrote the shorter piece also printed here, 'The Standard Modes of Aversion: Fear, Hate, and Disgust'. It was published in the journal Mind in 1998. It's clear that Kolnai stuck . . .

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