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Philosophy at the Table October 4, 2011

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Food and Drink, Philosophy, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

Food and wine are among the consummate pleasures of everyday life. But philosophy throughout its history has largely ignored these pervasive satisfactions. Preoccupied with the life of the mind, the activities of the body were presumed to be quite separate from and inferior to thought. After all, we are biologically predisposed to enjoy salt, sugar, and fat and it takes only a little effort and no cognitive skill to reap their rewards. Since, food and drink are tied to our primitive, animal instinct to survive and socialize, philosophy’s conceit has been to remain chastely untouched by passions that stir likewise in pigs at a trough.

Furthermore, our tastes seem to be so irredeemably idiosyncratic, subjective, and immune to standards that philosophers have typically decided food and wine could not be systematically studied.

I think all of this is quite misguided. The study of food and wine is cognitively interesting and enhances our enjoyment. Although subjective up to a point, the appreciation of food and wine is no more subjective than the appreciation of painting or music, all of which are profitably understood as subject to standards of evaluation.

And so I have decided to plunge back into the blogosphere, after an extended hiatus, with Edible Arts, a blog and newsletter devoted to unpacking these dimensions of food and wine that please the palette, the intellect, and the heart. I will cross-post here when the post is related to philosophy and aesthetics, or visit me there for regular posts on the world of food and wine.

And we should not be so disparaging to pigs. There is no part of a pig I dislike—although I must confess never to have tried a pressed sow’s ear. There may be a line to draw here some place.


Cross-posted at Edible Arts.



1. Paul J. Moloney - October 5, 2011

What about pigs feet?

2. Paul J. Moloney - October 6, 2011

There is no philosophy without food and drink, but this does not mean that food and drink of themselves cause anyone to do philosophy. If this were the case then everyone who ate and drank would be doing philosophy. Hardly anyone does philosphy compared to the billions of people on this planet. The topic of food and drink in philosophy may be more negative because food and drink can be seen as impediments to doing philosophy. It is actually excessive indulgence in food and drink that impedes one from doing philosophy or doing it well. Still, it seems impossible to me that anyone has a greater appreciation and enjoyment of food and drink than the philosopher. This is because enjoyment and appreciation follow upon understanding, and who understands better than the philosopher? As food and drink do not of themselves cause one to do philosophy, food and drink of themselves do not cause one to become obese. One does not have to become obese to enjoy food. It may be that no one enjoys food as much as Dwight, but the last time I saw him he was slim and trim.

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