Elizabeth Telfer - Food for thought: Philosophy and Food (book summary)

We obviously all need food and water to survive.

But Elizabeth Telfer quickly hints to the fact that we also often eat only for the purpose of pleasure or as more or less a  freetime activity. This is strange because we normally spend our expense time with something we do not have to do.

She simply defines those activities as feeding and watering and by that introduces the topic of the first chapter:

"Feeding the Hungry"

Telfer says that those nations that die from hunger would never ask philosophical questions about food.

To them it is only a question of how to get enough to survive. What is also a central part of the first chapter is the question if we have a moral obligation to feed the hungry. She later concludes that our obligation is limited and we are fully justified in beeing interested in food in all its variety.

Chapter 2 is focused on the question if food is and should be a source of pleasure. We often combine or relate the pleasure of eating with drinking and socializing. Enjoying food enhances our life.

The third Chapter is especially interesting. Is food a form of art? What makes it a form of art and how does that affect the social dimensions? Telfer concludes that food can surely be seen as art but only a minor form.

"Food duties" (Chapter 4) is a basic argument about vegatarianism and duties related to food.

The last two chapters form some sort of conclusion. Elizabeth Telfer repeats the social dimension and the aspect of time that  are connected to food as a general topic.

If you are interested in reading something different about a topic that has been analyzed in various ways, I can surely recommend "Food for Thought". But as it says, it is a philosophical approach. The intention is to ask and not to answer questions.

Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food

Elizabeth Telfer

London and New York: Routledge, 1996.


additional source: http://food.unt.edu/books/   


1 Comment