The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche (Popular Culture & Philosophy)

The Atkins Diet and Philosophy: Chewing the Fat with Kant and Nietzsche (Popular Culture & Philosophy)

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0812695844

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Atkins diet has transformed the lives of millions of people, revolutionizing grocery store shelves, restaurant menus, and dinner-table conversations. But there are questions beyond its efficacy and longevity. Is the Atkins diet a new wrinkle in capitalist exploitation or a twisted expression of negative body images? Is it a symbol of super-masculinity? Has the Atkins diet really been around for centuries under other names? Can it increase intelligence, or cause global warming and melt the polar ice caps? How does Atkins fit into Kant’s conception of the moral life, or Rousseau’s vision of a kinder, gentler human society? The Atkins Diet and Philosophy wittily explores these and other pressing questions in sixteen entertaining essays. Following the same fun, readable approach as earlier volumes in this series, this book uses philosophy to put the Atkins diet under the microscope, and uses the Atkins diet to teach vital philosophical lessons for life.
















Admittedly, these forces will dominate us if left unchecked—“As though life itself were not a craft which has to be learned from the beginning and continuously practiced without stint if it is not to breed a crawling brood of botchers and babblers” (ADHL, p. 60). But we ourselves have the power over our own lives, to sculpt and shape them, to be masters of them as an author is of the characters in his novel. Alexander Nehamas, a prominent Nietzsche scholar, says, “The unity of the self, which

idea which 10 Robert C. Atkins, M.D., Atkins for Life (New York: St. Martin’s, 2003), pp. ix–xi. Hereafter referred to in text as A. Atkins Diet & philosophy 2012_Atkins Diet & philosophy 2/13/12 10:57 AM Page 142 142 Abby Wilkerson might seem unremarkable at first, but which has faced significant challenges that I will return to shortly. Significant challenges have been raised to both the general claims about the poor-health consequences of “obesity” and the specific claims about the

more consistent with the democratic values that mandate respect for all members of society. The Atkins program offers to help fat people overcome the condition that singles them out. Fat Liberationists respond that the condition that needs to be corrected is social intolerance, not fatness. Imagine a world in which anyone can work out or eat or dress flamboyantly in public without being harassed—or visit the doctor with a pressing concern without being lectured about self-control. Imagine a world

since the goal of satisfying one’s vanity by looking good hardly seems sufficient to justify the horrific treatment to which meat animals are routinely subjected.) Let’s assume, further, that the Atkins Diet is a uniquely effective one, and that, in particular, it offers the dieter a better chance of achieving optimum weight than does a well-planned vegetarian alternative.8 Even on these generous assumptions, it is far from clear that the Atkins Diet is morally defensible. After all, even on the

philosophy 2/13/12 10:57 AM Page 169 A Vegetarian’s Beef with Atkins 169 vegetation in the farming regions of the Netherlands.”20 Moreover, the main cause of deforestation, both historically and today, is the desire to graze animals. This exacerbates the greenhouse effect and contributes to global warming. “The prodigious appetite of the affluent nations for meat means that agribusiness can pay more than those who want to preserve or restore the forests. We are, quite literally, gambling with

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