The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche

The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche

The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche

The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche

Excerpt

Ever since Plato proposed a diet of roasted meats for his guardians while on campaign (they're easy to prepare, you don't have to carry any cooking pots, and cleanup is a breeze!), the subject of our diet—what we eat, and why—has hovered on the edges of philosophers' attention. Once in a while, it has emerged into a full-blown discussion, as in Nietzsche's book Ecce Homo, which includes a lengthy disquisition on his own dietary choices. But most of what philosophers have had to say about diet could be written on small Post-it Notes. (Care for an example? Did you know that it was a philosopher who first said “You are what you eat”? Ludwig Feuerbach made the observation in 1850. By the way, the expression is a lot catchier in the original German: “Der Mensch ist was er isst.”)

In point of fact, there is no shortage of philosophically relevant issues involving food—growing it, distributing it, preparing it, eating it, and then sending it on to its next task. And some philosophers have long been deeply engaged in examining some of these issues, including sociopolitical issues about hunger and justice and ethical issues about vegetarianism. The

Plato, Republic, Book 3, translated by Benjamin Jowett, available online at
Classic Reader website, http://www.classicreader.eom/read.php/sid.8/bookid
.1788/sec.24/.

Feuerbach makes the comment in a discussion of the work of physiologist
Jacob Moleschott, entitled “The Natural Sciences and the Revolution.”
Feuerbach goes on to observe, “Now we know, on scientific grounds, what
the masses know from long experience, that eating and drinking hold together
body and soul, that the searched-for bond is nutrition.” Quoted in Marx
Wartofsky, Feuerbach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), p. 414.

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