BodyBackground
Menu

News

Current Articles | Archives | Search

By Gabrielle Kennedy

“There is not much of a philosophy about food,” says philosopher Julian Baggini who penned the book “The Virtues of the Table: how to eat and think” – a sort of foodies-meets-the-philosophers get-together to explore potential common ground.   In it he emphasizes how eating habits cannot be distinguished from our broader social and cultural lives.

“In the past philosophers have made the same mistake as theologians,” says Baggini.  “They have thought about what it means to be human, they focus on the spiritual or the intellectual aspects of human beings … but it is always very much about what distinguishes us from animals rather than what we have in common.  It is an historical mistake.  You cannot understand the nature of anything by simply saying what it isn’t. I think it is important to give complete justice to what we share with other animals.”

In “The Virtues of the Table” Baggini writes “Art flatters us into thinking we have depths that our animality cannot explain. This may make us feel like a better class of being, but the reassurance is false."

Plato is perhaps the first philosopher responsible for opening up this division between man and animals in an attempt to define true humanity, but we cannot and should not pretend that our animal natures are not central to who we are. 

During a talk at Design Academy Eindhoven’s recent “Eat Shit” exhibition in Milan, Baggini stressed that eating is "the ideal domain in which to understand our psycho-somatic natures."  And shit, he suggests, “is an uncomfortable reminder of our physicality. We should not underestimate how much it tells us about who we are.”

He talked about how surprised we might be by what our shit will tell people in the future about how we live. “It will reveal a lot about distribution of poverty and health an also about fashion and trends like the sudden disappearance of carbohydrates.  You can also tell something about the manner in which people ate by studying their poo.”

A good human life is more then just lifestyle.  While the so-called higher pleasures of opera, travel and art matter – especially when embraced with a genuine and considered affection – “lower” needs concerning body, sex and food reveal just as much about our aesthetical, cultural, historical, political and ecological condition.

 

 

 

 

Published: 29-May-2015 07:18
  • Food & Philosophy

    Julian Baggini speaking during Design Academy Eindhoven’s Eat Shit exhibition in Milan

  • Food & Philosophy

    Design Academy Eindhoven’s Eat Shit exhibition in Milan

  • Food & Philosophy

    Julian Baggini speaking during Design Academy Eindhoven’s Eat Shit exhibition in Milan

  • Food & Philosophy

    Design Academy Eindhoven’s Eat Shit exhibition in Milan

Photography: Ageline Swinkels