Appetites for Thought: Philosophers and Food by Donald Barry, PDF eBook 1780234457

April 13, 2018

Appetites for Thought: Philosophers and Food

Appetites for Thought offers up a delectable intellectual challenge: can we better understand the concepts of philosophers from their culinary choices? Guiding us around the philosopher’s banquet table with erudition, wit, and irreverence, Michel Onfray offers surprising insights on foods ranging from fillet of cod to barley soup, from sausage to wine and coffee.

Tracing the edible obsessions of philosophers from Diogenes to Sartre, Onfray considers how their ideas relate to their diets. Would Diogenes have been an opponent of civilization without his taste for raw octopus? Would Rousseau have been such a proponent of frugality if his daily menu had included something more than dairy products? Onfray offers a perfectly Kantian critique of the nose and palate, since “the idea obtained from them is more a representation of enjoyment than cognition of the external object.” He exposes Nietzsche’s grumpiness—really, Nietzsche grumpy?—about bad cooks and the retardation of human evolution, and he explores Sartre’s surrealist repulsion by shellfish because they are “food buried in an object, and you have to pry them out.”

A fun romp through the culinary likes and dislikes of our most famous thinkers, Appetites for Thought will intrigue, provoke, and entertain, and it might also make you ponder a bite to eat. 


“This svelte little book is surprising and delightful. Only a Frenchman could have written so delectably about food and philosophy.” (Independent)“Appetites for Thought is a delightful read; a deceptively small book, but packed densely with ideas. It’s like a serving of fancy tapas: misleadingly small little dishes, but rich and filling once you consume them.” (Popmatters)

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About the Author

Michel Onfray is a French philosopher and founder of the tuition-free Université Populaire in Caen, France, where he teaches. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Atheist Manifesto.

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This is a slight delight–slight only due to the length of the book–I actually wished it went on and on. Historical facts are presented within the context of each discussed philosopher’s reality and ideals. The surprise that comes of this is the corollaries in today’s ‘foodie’ vs ‘other’ world…the ‘foodies are well characterized in some of the essays, and there is a certain corollary to ‘other’ in some. If you enjoyed the ‘raw’ movement of our recent past (though it still may be present–I am unaware) you will enjoy its historical and philosophical ‘roots’. A fun and informative read by an author with great style and a vocabulary which left be running to my unabridged on many occasions.


  • Title: Appetites for Thought: Philosophers and Food
  • Autor: Donald Barry
  • Publisher (Publication Date): Reaktion Books (March 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: | 1780234457
  • ISBN-13: | 978-1780234458
  • Download File Format: EPUB, PDF

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