To Live is to Devour Others

Food Ethics and Tragedy in Tokyo Ghoul

Authors

  • Christian Frigerio State University of Milan

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21900/j.jams.v2.814

Keywords:

food ethics, tragedy, otherness, tokyo ghoul, cannibalism, vegetarianism, animalism, ecology

Abstract

This paper studies how Ishida Sui’s Tokyo Ghoul creates its typical sense of “tragedy,” by stressing the injustice inherent in every act of eating, and by generalizing the model of nutrition to every ethically laden act. Ishida undermines the Kantian principle that “ought implies can,” depicting a twisted world which forces us into wrongdoing: we have to eat, but there is no Other we can eat with moral impunity. Still, his characters provide some ethical models which could be implemented in our everyday food ethics, given that the tragicality spotted by Ishida is not that alien to our food system: food aesthetics, nihilism, amor fati, living with the tragedy, and letting ourselves be eaten are the options Ishida offers to cope with the tragedy, to approach the devastation our need for food brings into the world in a more aware and charitable way. The examination of Ishida’s narrative device, conducted with the mediation of thinkers such as Lévinas, Ricoeur, Derrida, and other contemporary moral philosophers, shall turn the question: “how to become worthy of eating?” into the core problem for food ethics.

References

Arens, William. The man-eating myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Coff, Christian. The taste for ethics: An ethic of food consumption, trans. E. Broadbridge (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006).

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2. The Time-Image, trans. H. Tomlinson, R. Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985).

Derrida, Jacques. The animal that therefore I am, trans. D. Wills (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).

Diamond, Cora. “Eating meat and eating people.” Philosophy, vol. 53, no. 206 (1978), pp. 465-479.

Farb, Peter and George Armelagos. Consuming passions: The anthropology of eating (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980).

Korsgaard, Christine. “Fellow creatures: Kantian ethics and our duties to animals.” Tanner Lectures on Human Values 2004: 24 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004), pp. 77-110.

Korsmeyer, Carolyn. Making sense of taste: Food and philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999).

Korthals, Michiel. Before dinner: Philosophy and ethics of food, trans. F. Kooymans (Dordrecht: Springer, 2004).

Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and infinity. An essay on exteriority, trans. A. Lingis (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979)

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick (New York: Penguin, 1978).

Natoli, Salvatore. L’esperienza del dolore. Le forme del patire nella cultura occidentale (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1999).

Onfray, Michel. Appetites for thought. Philosophers and food, trans. D. Barry and S. Muecke (London: Reaction Books, 2015).

Perullo, Nicola. Taste as experience: The philosophy and aesthetics of food (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).

Plato. The Republic, trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Ricoeur, Paul. Freedom and nature: The voluntary and the involuntary, trans. E. Kohak (Evanstone: Northwestern University Press, 1966).

Schutt, Bill. Eat me: A natural and unnatural history of cannibalism (London: Profile Books, 2017).

Singer, Peter. Animal liberation (New York: Harper Perennial, 2009).

Thompson, Paul B. From field to fork: Food ethics for everyone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and reality (New York: Free Press, 1978).

Downloads

Published

2021-11-29