The Philosopher's Table: How to Start Your Philosophy Dinner Club - Monthly Conversation, Music, and Reci pes

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9781585429264: The Philosopher's Table: How to Start Your Philosophy Dinner Club - Monthly Conversation, Music, and Reci pes

"Talk doesn't cook rice." —Chinese Proverb


According to Socrates, knowledge is "food for the soul." That's all well and good for the Socratic but, according to Maslow, food for the stomach is a far more pressing matter.

But why can't you have your talk, and cook rice too? With The Philosopher's Table, Marietta McCarty shows you that you can. In this book, you will find all of the necessary ingredients to start a Philosophy Dinner Club, taking a monthly tour around the world with friends to sample hors d'oeuvres of succulent wisdom and fill your plate with food from each philosophers' home country. With recipes, theories, and insights both old and new—all peppered with McCarty's charming and informative prose—you and your friends will:

—Enjoy fresh homemade lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasures of life in Epicurus's ancient Greek garden.
—Practice nonviolence (in life and at the dinner table) while sharing tofu curry with Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi.
—Learn the fundamentals of rational decision-making with a mouthful of bratwurst from Germany's Immanuel Kant
—In the spirit of accepting change, ditch the familiar take-out containers and dine on homemade shrimp dumplings with China's Lao Tzu.
—And so much more!

Complete with McCarty's recommendations for ethnic music from each region to enjoy during your gatherings and discussion questions to prompt debate, The Philosopher's Table contains everything you need to leave your host's home brimming with both nutritional and mental satisfaction.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Marietta McCarty is the author of Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids (a New York Times Extended List bestseller) and How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most (Winner of the Nautilus National Book Award). For over two decades, she taught philosophy at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now a writer by trade, she travels around the country speaking and hosting events about philosophy to groups of all ages.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Invitation

Dear Fellow Philosopher,

Please join me for dinner. Gather a few friends, old and new, perhaps a neighbor, maybe family members or colleagues. We’re starting a philosophy supper group and making plans for a yearlong trip around the world.

Here’s a peek at the menu for twelve monthly evenings: lively conversation about universally intriguing issues, more knowledge of cultures near and far, genre-spanning music, and a feast of home cooking from Japan to France, Kentucky to Brazil. For years I’ve pulled up a chair at festive philosophers’ tables just like the ones set for you in this book. Wherever I go, I find people thriving on hearty discussions. While telling stories, laughing, pondering, and questioning, diners develop a sense of belonging as they break bread, pass carafes, and wash dishes. Philosophy, music, and traditional cuisine spring from a particular culture while serving to define that culture, as well. Coming together in your homes, listening to the voices of your dinner partners, as well as those you’ll meet from other times and places, you’ll taste the hearts of Kenya and Greece, China and Iraq.

This book was an invigorating, joyful project for me to think about and to write. I chose the dinner topics after much thought, settling on the ones that continuously light conversational sparks. Yes, give me some persistence and grace. Hurry up with that mental clarity. Help wanted for decision making and adapting to change.

I worked with a head chef in creating and modifying dishes to match food and chapter themes in appealing combinations, and recipe testers and tweakers around the country prepared your meals and added their own just-right touches. The evenings you are about to share have been enjoyed in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Vermont, and in my kitchen. Music lovers joined me in narrowing my picks, the decisions hotly contested after wonderfully long work. All the philosophers I looked to as representatives of their cultures are perennial favorites. When sorting through the suggestions given at the beginning and end of each chapter for your further exploration of that culture, I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to learn more about a city, rain forest, museum, humanitarian, and an athlete.

As I wrote this book, I imagined countless, always-changing faces talking and eating around philosophy tables. Quite a treat to know that people speak face-to-face now, enjoying an exceptional kind of evening, feeding mind and body in comfortable companionship.



Some Key Points to Get You Started

Whatever time of year your group is ready, whether August or December, start right there.

FOOD

  • All recipes serve eight. Proportions and appetites will find each other.
  • Allow plenty of time for this once-a-month happening. Though active preparation times are included for each dish, variations in pot and bowl sizes, stoves, knives, kitchen experience, etc., inevitably result in some deviation. (Do not worry—about anything!)
  • Borrow whatever equipment you don’t have on hand. Someone has that big pot, skillet, sieve, or large bowl. If not, improvise with confidence.
  • Experiment with regional-ingredient substitutions, if you like. For example, root vegetables with similar densities are usually interchangeable.
  • The chapters alternate between those offering recipes for two small-plate dishes and others serving up three-recipe meals that always include dessert. We begin in January with small plates of good-luck New Year’s noodles and chicken Yakitori, and conclude with December’s three-course celebration, featuring Salmon Cooked on a Bed of Salt, Pot-au-Feu, and Clementine Soufflé.
  • Tips are given for food and beverages that guests can contribute, and the person serving as host should delegate assignments freely and welcome surprises. All groups with which I’m familiar rotate hosting duties.
  • Add individual touches: photographs of the release of Burmese political prisoners, the sights of Chicago, or your own travels to the night’s featured location. Perhaps use that certain tablecloth and Grandmother’s platters along with candles at a winter’s table, or pull out those brightly colored quilts for the August picnic.


PHILOSOPHY

  • Each chapter opens with my presentation of the topic and its importance. As you’ll see, these topics sit on the tips of tongues, younger and older. Next, I introduce a philosopher whose work explores the issue in ways that have captivated my companions in thought over the years. The philosopher’s section comes in two parts, each described in one word, for good clarity and focus—first we look at the problem and then we find the solutions. For example, stale thinking about education is followed by fresh approaches.
  • If you think you are a newcomer to philosophy, I doubt it. Whether we speak about these issues or not, they linger in our minds.
  • Reward your group and yourself by reading that month’s chapter in advance.
  • I offer one topic for dinner conversation so that you can experience the satisfaction of a fully explored subject. Oh, yes, there will be times when everyone talks at once, the topic forgotten and memorable tangents enjoyed, and someone will call the group to attention again. And again. But don’t worry about that. It’s your night, after all.


MUSIC

  • Collaborate on what works best for your group given the month’s selections. Perhaps download the suggestions, maybe play your worn CDs of Dave Brubeck’s jazz or Koko Taylor’s blues, or raise another glass for vinyl recordings of Bill Monroe’s bluegrass or compositions by Bach and Mozart.
  • Of course feel free to bring your own irresistible tunes.
  • Don’t let the music interfere with conversation. Talk over it or turn it down. Many diners remember the evening as they enjoy the playlist afterward. (On the other hand, maybe consider letting the music take over for a while!)


The Joy of Single Tasking

January in Japan

We all know people who glide through life as if sailing with the wind at their backs. An effortless style buoyed by humor, life gets lived with gusto. Meet my physician friend Marty, a hospital legend with good reason. No one can deny his enormous responsibilities to a horde of patients. I’ve watched him at work and play for years. Marty on the go treats each patient as an individual, stroking cheeks and answering questions as if hearing these worried queries for the first time. His steady presence and natural empathy spread down long hospital hallways, room by room, just as they lend calm at the nurse’s station and on elevators. He deals swiftly and directly with incompetence and leaves the problem behind. Marty’s consistently composed manner extends to his office staff and to the kiosk barista. He walks with no movement wasted, his step an unhurried giddy-up. This laser focus is not limited to his professional life— favorite sports teams and leisure activities also win his riveted attention.

In all of my years of teaching and philosophy circling, no concept delights my companions more than what I call “single tasking.” How alluring, the prospect of focusing on one thing at a time, doing that one thing well, and walking on. Our talk, however, soon turns to the surprising difficulty of putting this smart approach into practice. But Marty, along with many others in varying circumstances, proves that it can be done. Single tasking works—it increases efficiency, decreases stress, and maximizes our satisfaction in all of life’s activities. What if Marty thought about all that lay before him, the known and possible unexpected twists, at the dawn of day? What would happen to his quick-stepping stride? Single tasking earns its place as the first topic in our book. If we are to progress to the second chapter, relish our conversations, remember to crank up the music and turn off the oven, then focusing on one thing at a time will make it all possible.

Listening intently at a philosophizing luncheon, Cliff, a participant, chose his words carefully. “I’m guessing that your emphasis on simply doing one thing at a time will be met with shouts of ‘You’re kidding!’ It’s the way I try to live, but most people brush the very notion off as unrealistic, maybe even lazy.” My computer and I agree with Cliff’s hunch. While multitasking passes the spell-check test, single tasking fails to qualify as one word. Yes, we make endless lists of things to do, unwittingly condition ourselves to take on too much, and succumb to the prevailing chaos of busyness. Saddled with anxiety, we can’t catch our breath or catch up.

One example jostles itself to the forefront. Picture this. Teachers, parents, and volunteers sit around a table on the first day of a workshop devoted to sharing philosophy with children. A nice man, the last participant to arrive, pulls up a chair where his philosophy journal and pencil await. As introductions commence, he carefully positions his other supplies just so, at the ready: a cell phone, a small computer for Internet access, and his keys. He multitasks all morning . . . hasty conversation with now-distracted participants, clicked returns of messages, quick completion of his art and poetry assignments, and the occasional departure for a phone call or to move his car to another two-hour parking spot. It never occurred to him that his behavior was rude or that he was shortchanging his experience. After we talked privately at lunch and only the journal and pencil remained as his place setting, his attention and relaxation energized the room. He gave one hundred percent and everyone benefited from his eager, intelligent participation. Did he notice the change? Four days later, he looked ten years younger. As memory of the workshop dimmed, did he remember? I know that for me it was yet another lesson in the ease of the single task.

A fourth grader confided in me that she so wanted to become a writer but had no idea how to start. “How does anybody ever finish a book?” she wondered. I suggested that she take one very small thing to write about and focus only on that: every single thing about her birthday cake, or a tree on the playground, or her friend’s face. I assured her that you can write only one word at a time and then a sentence appears . . . and one word at a time and then . . . a page! The process of writing a book models perfectly a single-tasked life. The exhilarating days given to the writing craft are for me the ones in which I am present only to that one exact spot where I am—searching for this one elusive word or massaging that one paragraph until its tension releases. If naughty thoughts lurch uninvited into my consciousness of the book in its entirety, writing stops and friends beware.

Fortunately, just as an author finds those words, we can jump off the chaos track. Abiding satisfaction comes to many new philosophers who commit to the process of gradually strengthening their mental discipline. We can build inner fortitude just as we train ourselves in other ways: practicing a musical instrument, hitting ball after ball with that bedeviling backhand, slowly exercising a weak knee back to healthy function. Savoring our lives, even though they are chock-full of responsibility and beset by some difficulty, strikes us as the wisest option. Having lots to do need not devolve into swirling busyness. Though the pace quickens, we can become more skilled at staying in the moment. As the child, the cashier, and the customer demand our attention in the grocery store, we stay right there with it all, poised and cash in hand. How? We practice concentration. Fully investing in our lives, being present now in this moment, proves the answer. Life is not a series of things to get done. Life is for living.

Our twelve evenings serve as the perfect manual for single tasking, offering the chance to soak up life’s richness, moment by moment, with no goal beyond the time spent together. Paying attention to each ingredient as the whole dish bubbles to fruition requires the cook’s undivided concentration—tasting the resulting flavors and picking up distinctive textures magnifies the diner’s pleasure. Listening to music trains us to take special note of our lives, too. Hearing one instrument as well as the whole piece, picking up the resonance of both voice and guitar, and recognizing the sound of quiet spaces, all hone awareness. The repeated process of reading beforehand and absorbing the night’s philosophical topic, then stepping back and allowing the ideas to take hold—this routine enhances alertness. Taking notice of the speaker’s tone of voice, body movement, emotions, pauses, and breaths restores the disappearing art of conversation. Sucked in as undistracted listeners, we are present.

A joyous Zen Master from Japan tempts us with a timeless guarantee. Concentrating, doing one thing at a time, gives you a steely mind of your own. Your own steady mind returns. Shunryu Suzuki (shun-REEoo suh-ZOO-kee) patiently reinforces our profound realization that we are here right now. Let’s stay right here with him.



Prepping for Japan

Count poetic syllables with Basho and Izumi Shikibu. . . . Watch Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, Masayuki Suo’s Shall We Dance?, and Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu. . . . Round the bases with Sadahuru Oh, rooting for his Yomiuri Giants, and congratulate 2011 World Cup winning soccer stars Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama along with their coach Norio Sasaki. . . . Uncover the simple, calming rituals of the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu) as you take three and a half sips of tea in the style of Zen Tea Master Sen Rikyu. . . . Try your hand at the art of flower arranging (ikebana) and imagine Japanese ancient horseback archers (yabusame). . . . Discover the pioneering work of alternative farmer/ philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka in The One-Straw Revolution and enter medieval court life through Sei Shonagon’s observations in The Pillow Book. . . . Listen closely to pianist and composer Joe Hisaishi’s “View of Silence” and the tender piano tribute to Japan offered by Thelonious Monk in his “Kojo No Tsuki” (“Japanese Folk Song”). . . .

You must read each sentence with a fresh mind.

SHUNRYU SUZUKI,

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Revved-up college students and car engines, plus the weight of nagging discontent and material possessions, greeted Suzuki upon his arrival in the sixties from Japan. Giving informal lectures at his Soto Zen monastery, on the outskirts of San Francisco, he sent many grateful pupils on their single-minded paths. Though reading one sentence, and then another, with a fresh mind poses a stiff challenge, we join our easygoing guru for a basic refresher course in his singularly focused technique. Concentrating and comprehending one sentence at one time—that’s the goal. Game on.



Lost

“I lost my train of thought.” How many times have you uttered this lament? How much simpler would life be if “one railway track thousands of miles long” (Zen Mind) described the mind’s unswerving mo...

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Talk doesn t cook rice. Chinese ProverbAccording to Socrates, knowledge is food for the soul. That s all well and good for the Socratic but, according to Maslow, food for the stomach is a far more pressing matter. But why can t you have your talk, and cook rice too? With The Philosopher s Table, Marietta McCarty shows you that you can. In this book, you will find all of the necessary ingredients to start a Philosophy Dinner Club, taking a monthly tour around the world with friends to sample hors d oeuvres of succulent wisdom and fill your plate with food from each philosophers home country. With recipes, theories, and insights both old and new all peppered with McCarty s charming and informative prose you and your friends will: Enjoy fresh homemade lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasures of life in Epicurus s ancient Greek garden. Practice nonviolence (in life and at the dinner table) while sharing tofu curry with Burma s Aung San Suu Kyi. Learn the fundamentals of rational decision-making with a mouthful of bratwurst from Germany s Immanuel Kant In the spirit of accepting change, ditch the familiar take-out containers and dine on homemade shrimp dumplings with China s Lao Tzu. And so much more! Complete with McCarty s recommendations for ethnic music from each region to enjoy during your gatherings and discussion questions to prompt debate, The Philosopher s Table contains everything you need to leave your host s home brimming with both nutritional and mental satisfaction. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781585429264

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Talk doesn t cook rice. Chinese Proverb According to Socrates, knowledge is food for the soul. That s all well and good for the Socratic but, according to Maslow, food for the stomach is a far more pressing matter. But why can t you have your talk, and cook rice too? With The Philosopher s Table, Marietta McCarty shows you that you can. In this book, you will find all of the necessary ingredients to start a Philosophy Dinner Club, taking a monthly tour around the world with friends to sample hors d oeuvres of succulent wisdom and fill your plate with food from each philosophers home country. With recipes, theories, and insights both old and new all peppered with McCarty s charming and informative prose you and your friends will: Enjoy fresh homemade lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasures of life in Epicurus s ancient Greek garden. Practice nonviolence (in life and at the dinner table) while sharing tofu curry with Burma s Aung San Suu Kyi. Learn the fundamentals of rational decision-making with a mouthful of bratwurst from Germany s Immanuel Kant In the spirit of accepting change, ditch the familiar take-out containers and dine on homemade shrimp dumplings with China s Lao Tzu. And so much more! Complete with McCarty s recommendations for ethnic music from each region to enjoy during your gatherings and discussion questions to prompt debate, The Philosopher s Table contains everything you need to leave your host s home brimming with both nutritional and mental satisfaction. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781585429264

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Talk doesn t cook rice. Chinese Proverb According to Socrates, knowledge is food for the soul. That s all well and good for the Socratic but, according to Maslow, food for the stomach is a far more pressing matter. But why can t you have your talk, and cook rice too? With The Philosopher s Table, Marietta McCarty shows you that you can. In this book, you will find all of the necessary ingredients to start a Philosophy Dinner Club, taking a monthly tour around the world with friends to sample hors d oeuvres of succulent wisdom and fill your plate with food from each philosophers home country. With recipes, theories, and insights both old and new all peppered with McCarty s charming and informative prose you and your friends will: Enjoy fresh homemade lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasures of life in Epicurus s ancient Greek garden. Practice nonviolence (in life and at the dinner table) while sharing tofu curry with Burma s Aung San Suu Kyi. Learn the fundamentals of rational decision-making with a mouthful of bratwurst from Germany s Immanuel Kant In the spirit of accepting change, ditch the familiar take-out containers and dine on homemade shrimp dumplings with China s Lao Tzu. And so much more! Complete with McCarty s recommendations for ethnic music from each region to enjoy during your gatherings and discussion questions to prompt debate, The Philosopher s Table contains everything you need to leave your host s home brimming with both nutritional and mental satisfaction. Bookseller Inventory # ADB9781585429264

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