Re: Wired

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Nov 23 2004 - 05:41:06 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> < Similarly, <>Dr. Val
> Curtis of the <>London School of Hygiene and
> Tropical Medicine published work earlier this year showing that our
> sense of disgust has evolved to protect us from disease. That sense of
> hygiene, said Greene, might be the basis for so-called higher senses,
> such as moral feelings.
> Greene is currently working on this idea. "For example," he said, "we
> might describe the behavior of someone who takes bribes as disgusting. I
> think that's more than a simple, learned metaphor." >
> This is extremely old-hat to anyone who's read the school of Lakoff and
> Johnson (METAPHORS WE LIVE BY, etc), the work of Mary Douglas (PURITY
> AND DANGER) or the deconstructive discourse of Julia Kristeva on
> `abjection' and disgust.
> Nice to see other scientists catching up, of course. :)

Demonstrating modular brainware to support disgust, and that the modular
brainware is activated by cockroaches and by bribe-taking, is science above
and beyond Lakoff and Johnson's fine and plausible *hypothesis*. If you
prove it experimentally that's more than just "catching up". Also, in the
quote Greene says it's *more* than a metaphor, presumably meaning the
emotion got reused in a emotionally hardwired way - it's not just a learned
metaphor, but an innate case of evolutionary reuse.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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