2015 Abstracts Stage 3

A Study into the Negative Representation of Gastronomy within Philosophy and Further Looking to How this is an Outdated View in Modern Society

Sophie Arnold, 2015, Stage 3

Within this project I plan to show how gastronomy has been negatively represented in the philosophical world and how this way of thinking no longer is true and reflective of the trends found within modern society. I shall be using a range of philosopher to show how modes of thought which claim gastronomic experience to be unworthy of aesthetic response are no longer valid to implement.

Key words
Gastronomy: the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food
Michelin Star: a hallmark of fine dining quality in restaurants across the world. A restaurant may receive one, two, or three stars, representing very good, exceptional, or exquisite cuisine, respectively.

A Brief Introduction to the Philosophers Used

Plato and Gastronomy
Plato held that anything to do with the stomach must be shunned. He claimed that the stomach could only be governed by passion and appetite and hence it was not virtuous to take pleasure from food. Essentially for Plato, ‘food and drink merely reeked of the transient, inadequate, inferior material world of the senses, bodily pleasures and humdrum non philosophical activities.’ (Allhoff and Monroe: 2007, 24)

Kant and Gastronomy
Kant provided the main attack against the value of gastronomy and it is this view which remains prevalent in the philosophical world. Kant maintains that food cannot provide an aesthetic experience in the same way as a piece of art would since he claims food can only provide an immediate response which can only ever be agreeable or disagreeable. Furthermore he claims our relationship with food can never be disinterested (a characteristic he states to be necessary of aesthetic experience) since the consumption of food is an innate animalistic desire.

Brillat-Savarin and Gastronomy
Brillat-Savain claims that food is able to provide aesthetic experience and he lays out his argument in his work, The Physiology of Taste. He claims that tasting and appreciating food is a complex endeavour which takes both time and reflective judgement. He formulated the sequence of ingestion which shows how this occurs. The three stages of sensation he identifies are namely; direct, complete and reflective. Brillat-Savarin also infers that the pleasure deduced from enjoyment of gastronomy is the most divine of them all.

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