Appetites for Thought

Philosophers and Food

Michel Onfray

Appetites for Thought

Michel Onfray

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Translated by Donald Barry and Stephen Muecke
128 pages | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2015
Paper $24.95 ISBN: 9781780234458 Published March 2015 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $24.95 ISBN: 9781780234557 Published March 2015
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. 

Introduction: The Banquet of the Omnivores

1. Diogenes; or, The Taste of Octopus

2. Rousseau; or, The Milky Way

3. Kant; or, Ethical Alcoholism

4. Fourier; or, The Pivotal Little Pie

5. Nietzsche; or, The Sausages of the Anti-Christ

6. Marinetti; or, The Excited Pig

7. Sartre; or, The Revenge of the Crustaceans

Conclusion: The Gay Science of Eating



Review Quotes
“This svelte little book is surprising and delightful. Only a Frenchman could have written so delectably about food and philosophy.”
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.”
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