17 August 2013

Swearing, cultural relativism, and religion

I blogged elsewhere about a book I must read: Melissa Mohr. 2013. Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing (available both on Google Play and Amazon).  Among other points made there is that culture influences substantially which words are regarded as taboo (and hence swear words) - and that these words change over time - even though we feel very visceral, innate revulsion to them.

Here, I wanted to make a specific comment about religion in light of that book:

According to certain theists, humanity is as their gods commanded.  So our limbic system (where swearing comes from) is their gods' work, and so is our capacity to swear, and also our capacity to be influenced by culture insofar (in this case) as what we learn as taboo.  But their gods also laid down strict laws (during various periods of history, but certainly during the Medieval period in Western history) essentially prohibiting us from being and acting as those very same gods made us.

I think those are some pretty fucked up gods.