And just a little more. I’m like a dog with a bone, you know. There’s a rather Kassian argument in comments on an older post (combined with some vituperation to make it go down more smoothly). It’s interesting.

One doesn’t need to be a Christian, or even a theist, to be extremely alarmed at some of the directions that secular ethical thinking seems naturally inclined to go in – especially in its common utilitarian and more generally consequentialist forms…The concept of human dignity is central to any attempt to articulate the strong feeling shared by many (including many atheists) that something has gone badly wrong with this sort of ethical thinking….It’s difficult to say what’s wrong with necrophilia (if anything is wrong with it), or with leaving one’s mother’s corpse out for the garbage collector, without appealing to this concept or something very like it.

Maybe so – but then I don’t think anything is wrong with those two things, given certain stipulations (no one else harmed, etc). These two items would fit perfectly well in ‘Taboo,’ which used to be on B&W as well as TPM (and for which I wrote an essay) but got taken down when the hacker struck, and which is now in the briskly-selling Do You Think What You Think You Think? which I see in good bookstores everywhere. I think necrophilia is obviously disgusting, but that doesn’t make it wrong, and I don’t think it is necessarily wrong. Mother’s corpse is interesting, because if you think about it, corpses are basically taken away by garbage collectors, just in a cleaner and more polite manner. Don’t get me wrong, I find the idea repellent and painful, but again, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. (Leaving aside the law, and sanitation concerns.) Suppose a situation of total isolation, suppose the mother doesn’t know and neither does anyone else, suppose the offspring is untroubled by this arrangement and never regrets is; why would it be wrong? Wouldn’t it be Yuk rather than wrong? Taboo? It’s okay to heed taboos like that (some of them – others are about, say, untouchables, or people of Other Races), because the feelings matter, but if they’re not there and no one else is harmed…?

26 Responses to “Taboo”