What is the function of taboo? Or rather: what are the functions of taboo?
There is the obvious function of stopping harm. Certain things like murder and theft are taboo as a result of them causing suffering. But this isn’t the sense of taboo I wish to explore today.
There is a nefarious tradition in the west. This tradition is one in which certain words are not allowed to be said and certain topics are not allowed to be discussed. It’s strange that when one looks into this one finds quite quickly that the words and subjects all surround sex and bodily functions.
So to narrow the topic somewhat I am asking the question: “What is the function of making certain utterances and topics forbidden?”
I am at a loss to find anything positive in the illicitization of certain words and topics. This because I am yet to discover anything intrinsically harmful in any topic or utterance beyond that which is caused by the taboo nature of it. That is to say the only negatives I can discover in so called illicit language and topics are those that are caused by them being illicit.
For example take the case where someone is offended at a certain thing another person has said. They are only offended because they have been conditioned to find it offensive. The conditioning which causes this is also the conditioning which tells them that what was said is bad.
I don’t actually believe that having certain words and topics as taboo functions for the majority at all. In fact I believe it to be a device used by the powers that be (Parents, teachers, police, gov, etc…) to maintain order. This is because if you can make a word stand in for a physical action such as a slap then you have to expend less effort in maintaining control.
Just ask yourself why am I offended by a certain thing. You will see it comes down to someone expressing a dislike of you. Well so what! Why should you be bothered? I mean just as you like some things and dislike others some people are going to like you and some are going to dislike you. I mean this is the essential core of meaning at the heart of offense. The wiser course of action would be not to be offended, just accept that some person doesn’t like you and carry on doing whatever it was that you were doing.
But people don’t do that. Instead they create another avenue through which they can be hurt by being offended! It’s really rather silly when you look at it!