Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law

Janet Jackson’s recent display of her bare breast at Super Bowl halftime, the trials of Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart, and the public debates over gay marriage and the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy—such events make a study of disgust and shame timely. Martha Nussbaum’s book is an apt follow-up to her previous work on emotion and the moral life. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions secured Nussbaum’s place in a group of thinkers determined to rescue philosophy from an exclusive focus on rationality by pointing out the moral significance of emotions. Nussbaum’s professed project in Hiding from Humanity is to make clear the “psychological foundations of liberalism,” particularly the liberalism of John Stuart Mill, with particular attention to the “institutional and developmental conditions for the sustenance of a liberal respect for human equality.”

 

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