Incongruent counterparts: pairing snacks with philosophers

Philosophers spend a lot of time with other philosophers. This is so even when they work alone. For a good part of philosophical work involves reading, and reflecting upon, what philosophers have written. Naturally, such work rarely takes place in a vacuum, and philosophers often think carefully about the appropriate setting for engaging with one or another thinker: the most conducive music, lighting, seating, and so forth, for engaging with Descartes, Kant, or whoever. An important, although less oft-remarked, component of appropriate setting involves the selection of snacks and beverages that will best accompany the works of particular philosophers.

In some cases, such a decision may be made on prudential grounds: getting through the work of one or another philosopher may demand intake of a quantity of caffeine, and the promise of chocolate. In other cases, the decision may be made on aesthetic grounds: appreciation of the nuance of a thinker’s work may demand the careful application of Earl Grey tea, for example.

Here, I make some preliminary suggestions about some reasonable pairings, in the hope that this may be at the service of further reflection and discussion.

Plato:        Cheese and fruit; posset or wine.

Aristotle:          Digestive biscuits; water.

Aquinas:          Custard tarts; mead.

Descartes:          Angel cake; lemonade.

Spinoza:          Ginger nut biscuits; espresso.

Newton:         Apple strudel; ginger beer.

Locke:           Madeleine cake; coke.

Leibniz:           Chocolate Hobnobs; Ribena.

Berkeley:         Doesn’t matter; orange juice.

Hume:          Sandwiches; red wine.

Kant:          Rich Tea biscuits; Lapsang Souchong tea.

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8 comments
  1. Rachbunts said:

    If this is truly the case i only want to talk about Leibniz.

  2. Peznok said:

    Derrida with Mint Chocolate Matchmakers?

  3. QuietBatPerson said:

    Surely one would eat Choco Leibniz biscuits with Leibniz.

  4. The Nous Bros. said:

    I like the Descartes one. But surely Aristotle gets Brie, good bread, a fine tapenade. That sort of thing. No? Twice I’ve given students a final in which they imagine various philosophers arguing it out & I’ve mentioned in the prompt that the meeting was at Aristotle’s house so the food was good. 🙂 Plato gets mangoes. Don’t we think? Or at least peaches.

    • Thanks. Those are interesting, and plausible, proposals. My thoughts about Aristotle were guided, in part, by his ideas about virtue and indulgence. But the type of foodstuff you talk about might reasonably be counted as healthy. I shall reflect further on your helpful comments.

  5. cathyby said:

    Not Orange Juice for Berkeley. Poor man had a bad stomach before he died, it just seems wrong. Much as I would like to suggest Chocolate Kimbereleys for Berkeley I think he is a Jaffa Cake philosopher. You think it’s a biscuit, but it’s a cake. You think he’s an empiricist, but he’s also an idealist. You think the world is solid but it’s really ideas.

    And it keeps the orange juice theme going. Perhaps a nice cup of tea as well. Irish Breakfast. Go on, go on, go on.

    • Thanks. That’s a very useful suggestion, and the insight about Berkeley’s health should certainly be taken into account. I wonder whether Berkeley’s idealism would make him more, or rather less, able to stop eating Jaffa Cakes.

  6. MA said:

    Interesting! I’ve read somewhere that Heraclitus never ate the same snack twice. And that Pythagoras was obsessed with bean juice.

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