Eating in Theory
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Eating in Theory

Annemarie Mol

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eBook - PDF

Eating in Theory

Annemarie Mol

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About This Book

As we taste, chew, swallow, digest, and excrete, our foods transform us, while our eating, in its turn, affects the wider earthly environment. In Eating in Theory Annemarie Mol takes inspiration from these transformative entanglements to rethink what it is to be human. Drawing on fieldwork at food conferences, research labs, health care facilities, restaurants, and her own kitchen table, Mol reassesses the work of authors such as Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Jonas, and Emmanuel Levinas. They celebrated the allegedly unique capability of humans to rise above their immediate bodily needs. Mol, by contrast, appreciates that as humans we share our fleshy substance with other living beings, whom we cultivate, cut into pieces, transport, prepare, and incorporate‚ÄĒand to whom we leave our excesses. This has far-reaching philosophical consequences. Taking human eating seriously suggests a reappraisal of being as transformative, knowing as entangling, doing as dispersed, and relating as a matter of inescapable dependence.

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74 
Chapter 
Three
tain 
distance 
from 
the 
object 
of 
knowl-
edge. 
Instead, 
subject 
and 
object 
inter-
fere 
with 
each 
other, 
change 
each 
other, 
intertwine. 
Rather 
than 
representing, 
other 
relational 
modalities 
are 
at 
stake. 
Learning 
to 
be 
affected, 
affecting. 
Taking 
pleasure, 
improving. 
Belonging, 
distin-
guishing. 
Caring, 
meddling. 
Satisfying, 
feeding. 
Chewing, 
appreciating. 
Listen-
ing, 
attending. 
In 
this 
model, 
knowing
is 
not 
of 
the 
world, 
but 
in
it. 
It 
is 
altogether 
transformative.
to 
be 
disentangled; 
pleasure 
does 
not 
have 
to 
be 
despised; 
it 
may 
be 
enjoyed 
in 
moderation. 
I 
am 
not 
out 
to 
romanti-
cize 
life 
in 
the 
states 
from 
which 
classic 
Chinese 
texts 
emerged. 
But 
their 
partic-
ularities 
help 
me‚ÄĒ¬†
here, 
now‚ÄĒto¬†
escape 
from 
what 
was 
presented 
as 
self-evident 
in 
the 
intellectual 
traditions 
imposed 
on 
me. 
They 
offer 
me 
a 
‚ÄėFoucauldian¬†
mo-
ment.’ 
What 
effect, 
I 
wonder, 
do 
they 
have 
on 
you, 
reader? 
How 
do 
you
appre-
ciate 
them? 

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