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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents three different aspects of the moral relevance of diet. It begins with eating for virtue and considers some discussions in the sixteenth and seventeenth century of how diet impacts philosophy—either via its impact upon physical health or more directly via its impact upon spiritual well-being. Specifically, it considers two foundational figures of early modern philosophy, Michel de Montaigne and René Descartes, and then turns to Anne Conway, who unifies elements of their views along with elements of traditional theology to present an account of the spiritual significance of diet. The chapter then turns to eating virtuously, both via the moral consideration of animals in the eighteenth century and the political consequences of luxury and diet. It concludes by considering how Malthus posed a pressing problem to those who thought that an age of reason might be at hand if one just heeded the cry of nature.

Keywords: Anne Conway, René Descartes, Michel de Montaigne, animal rights, animal welfare, Thomas Malthus, luxury, Joseph Fourier, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Francis Hutcheson

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