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Purity and Dirt:

Uncovering the significance of cleanliness

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This Debate

Val Curtis, Harry Eyres, Gerald Moore. Mary Ann Sieghart hosts.

From antibacterial sprays to the obsessive cleaning up of our deeds, attitudes and language, the battle against dirt rages in modern society. What is it about the metaphor of dirt that places practical cleanliness next to godliness? Would embracing our own filth provide a refreshing new insight into how we should live?


The Panel

FT columnist Harry Eyres, Durham philosopher Gerald Moore, and anthropologist and disgustologist Val Curtis clean up their acts.

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Harry Eyres
    The Pitch
    We conflate boundary-crossing with defilement
  • Gerald Moore
    The Pitch
    We fetishise dirt to appear transgressive
  • Val Curtis
    The Pitch
    Repulsion has evolved due to hygiene
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    The origins of revulsion
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Where does dirt end, and sin begin?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    Should we embrace our dirty side?
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