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Towards a Theory of Food Categorization

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By Sumil Thakrar

Forthcoming in the Proceedings of the Society of Drinking a lot of Cough Syrup


“Everybody knows that something is wrong. But it is uniquely the achievement of contemporary philosophy – indeed, it is uniquely the achievement of contemporary analytical philosophy – to have figured out just what it is. What is wrong is that not enough distinctions are being made.”—Jerry Fodor[1]

There has been a much-needed resurgence in published papers and PhD dissertations on the philosophy of food categorisation. Yet, outside of the philosophy department, we are steadfastly entrenched in a naïve tradition that does little but separate food from drink. The recent attempts at popularizing food categorisation are inadequate at capturing the natural distinctions, and have barely engaged with the emerging philosophical literature. For example, the philosopher Lawson, in her seminal thesis “Nigella Bites”[2], invoked the categories “slow cook weekend”, “comfort food”, and “rainy days”, which critics claim offer an embarrassment of riches that fail to ‘carve nature at its joints’. This paper will clarify the emerging philosophical consensus, and suggest possible avenues for further research.


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January 8, 2016 at 7:14 am

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