If the ethics of food is a matter of relationship.
Adriano Fabris' phamplet
More than a book, it is a pamphlet. Short yes, but very dense. Sometimes even difficult, because “Ethics of eating. Food and relationship ” is a philosophical essay that tackles the question of food ethics in a serious and rigorous way. And it does so starting from a new concept (and at times even provocative with respect to some pathologies and approaches to eating) of relationship. “The act of eating - writes Fabris - is a specific and problematic way of relating to other living beings: to human beings and to the world in general. And, like all forms of relationship, even that of eating can be implemented well or badly ”(p. 6).
For this reason eating, like every human action, is an ethical act, because it is, in fact, a relational act.
Starting from this theoretical assumption, Fabris analyzes the main concepts on which the ethics of food is compared, such as the distinction between nourishment and nutrition - the latter understood as a cultural act that presupposes the passage, essential in our evolutionary path, of transformation through the "magical" act of cooking.
Or like food in the sacred and profane dimension. A dimension, the latter, which today is identified with the (very dangerous) attitude of consumerism: "in our time one of the main ways in which we relate to something else, not just food, is precisely the fact of consuming it .. . Here the desire is immediately identified and confused with it. And therefore, on the one hand there are no more constraints for our desire; on the other hand we can believe that sooner or later we obtain everything we desire "(p. 47- 48). In consumerism, man treats food like any other industrial product which, from being a resource, is transformed into a commodity, with disastrous consequences such as the impoverishment of small producers, the exploitation of natural resources and the provocation of irreversible ecological damage.
Consequences that remind us, continues Fabris, that the circle of the food relationship is wide and extends to other areas at the origin of new territories of philosophical investigation, such as food citizenship, or the reflection on the right of all human beings to a kind of 'food citizenship' and food security, ie research aimed at guaranteeing the safety of the food chain.
But the most angular curve of reflection meets towards the end of the path: the relationship of human beings with food - argues the philosopher - can only be violent, as the whole life cycle itself involves birth and death, development and decline, of oneself and of others, and in the face of this situation there are no possible loopholes. Eliminating the violence inherent in the food relationship is impossible and we just have to become aware of it, govern it and try to transform it into something different. This, writes the philosopher, is the task of the ethics of eating.
If the act of eating is nothing more than an act of appropriation, assimilation and destruction - "Eating is never an ethically neutral act, it almost always involves a preliminary killing. Indeed, eating is itself killing, since it realizes the incorporation of another living being (p. 93) - there are only two options left: not to eat and become extinct for ethical reasons, or to feed on synthetic foods, but in this case we would only satisfy the need (by killing the culture) and the food processes would they would reduce to hydraulic processes.
The solution to this dilemma, according to Fabris, is to understand that eating is not an act of annulment but above all of transformation, even of oneself, and consequently it is necessary to make food choices on the basis of the "relationship principle". which requires awareness of what I do to other living beings (and to myself) and responsibility for the consequences of my actions.
Only now that the circle of reflection has closed, says the author, can the "e" of the subtitle, Food and relationship, be emphasized because "food is relationship, relationship in progress; food is a symbol of all relationships that involve us; eating ethically means creating a balanced and responsible relationship with this nucleus of relationships which is our daily food. Food is a symbol of the relationships that involve us. In all forms, however: relationships with oneself, in the meditated tasting that we can to allow ourselves, relationships with others, in a conviviality; relationships with other living beings, which we need precisely when we harm them and subject them to a transformation, relationship still with ourselves, to the extent that we make ourselves account of the responsibility we have towards what we eat, what we do not eat and what we cannot avoid eating. This is what our hypothetical restaurateur should learn to giving us, preparing his dish: the sense of all the relationships in which we are involved and, together with them, the sense of our limit. This would be the priceless added value of his cuisine ”(p. 100).
Ethics of eating. Food and relationship, Adriano Fabris, ETS Editions
Adriano Fabris teaches Moral Philosophy and Ethics of Communication at the University of Pisa. At the ETS Editions he directs the magazine "Theory" and has published Logica ed ermeneutica (1982), Philosophy, history, temporality (1988), Perspectives of interpretation (1996), Sense and indifference (2007), Mortal Fiction (2014), Twitter and philosophy (2015).