By Serena Feloj
First of all, I wish to thank Alberto Siani for his generous discussion of my book and his stimulating remarks. His commentary gives me the chance to spell out some theoretical elements accounting for the background of my book on disgust.
My theoretical take on disgust emerges, in accordance with my methodological premises, from a historical reconstruction of the debate revolving around the topic of disgust and of the ensuing philosophical tools devoted to its understanding. I am especially interested in the idea, familiar to Kantian scholars, that the main task of philosophy is to challenge common sense by means of unusual sounding questions. This can be conspicuously applied to disgust. Usually understood as a very common reaction, which is typical of our everyday life, the family of words revolving around disgust is often abused by language, especially when expressed in English. It is then quite easy to fall into a simplistic reading of disgust in the field of aesthetics. Generally taken as an outright negative category, artists, critics and also philosophers apply it more and more often to the interpretation of works in contemporary art. Clear examples are provided in this respect by the Viennese Actionism’s very controversial performances, but many other cases could be mentioned here.