Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy

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Cornell University Press, Sep 1, 2002 - Cooking - 240 pages
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Taste, perhaps the most intimate of the five senses, has traditionally been considered beneath the concern of philosophy, too bound to the body, too personal and idiosyncratic. Yet, in addition to providing physical pleasure, eating and drinking bear symbolic and aesthetic value in human experience, and they continually inspire writers and artists.

In Making Sense of Taste, Carolyn Korsmeyer explains how taste came to occupy so low a place in the hierarchy of senses and why it is deserving of greater philosophical respect and attention. Korsmeyer begins with the Greek thinkers who classified taste as an inferior, bodily sense; she then traces the parallels between notions of aesthetic and gustatory taste that were explored in the formation of modern aesthetic theories. She presents scientific views of how taste actually works and identifies multiple components of taste experiences.

Turning to taste's objects—food and drink—she looks at the different meanings they convey in art and literature as well as in ordinary human life and proposes an approach to the aesthetic value of taste that recognizes the representational and expressive roles of food. Korsmeyer's consideration of art encompasses works that employ food in contexts sacred and profane, that seek to whet the appetite and to keep it at bay; her selection of literary vignettes ranges from narratives of macabre devouring to stories of communities forged by shared eating.

 

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Contents

chapter one The Hierarchy of the Senses
11
Aesthetic and Nonaesthetic Senses
38
chapter three The Science of Taste
68
Illustrations
72
chapter four The Meaning of Taste and the Taste of Meaning
103
Representing Taste and Food
146
chapter six Narratives of Eating
185
Index
225
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About the author (2002)

Carolyn Korsmeyer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York-Buffalo and is coauthor of Feminist Scholarship: Kindling in the Groves of Academe (1985) and co-editor (with Hilde Hein) of Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective (1993).

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