#13 西瓜汁

“Watermelon Juice” may well be what my audience thought I was providing at my talk. In any case, this week was a talk to philosophy students and some philosophy faculty, on Kant and Rousseau. I know those reading this are dying to know the basic claim, so here it is: in On the Social Contract, Rousseau claims that “freedom is obedience to the law one has prescribed for oneself” [“l’obéissance à la loi qu’on s’est prescritte est liberté”]. I argue that in spite of the almost-exclusive focus on Rousseau’s influence on Kant’s moral philosophy, this sentence actually provides a strategic hint that encapsulates Kant’s strategy throughout the Critical philoosophy, specifically the Critique of Pure Reason. So there.

The talk went pretty well, although it was a bit technical in places. This may be why one of the first questions (from a faculty member) was to ask me to summarize the main points of the paper. A student asked a very good question that raised an important point Frege emphasized, that of the normativity of logic. So there.

Perhaps you are wondering why I mentioned watermelon juice. It is because it is extraordinarily good: refreshing and full of that prized lycopene. It is also one of the things (along with coffee) that I can successfully order in Chinese: there is some sort of moral victory walking up, ordering in Chinese, getting what you ordered, and paying for it, all without having to resort to bizarre hand signals (I don’t know what the hand signals are for “watermelon juice,” anyway). It should be much more widely-available in the US.

I’ve been working with my tutor on ordering food in Chinese restaurants. It is not made any easier by some dishes having names that are a bit tricky: after all, if you see this dish on a menu— “Seven Sparrows Flying Across Purple Mountain”—would you order it? It could be chicken feet (no thanks), fried duck tongue (surprisingly good), or a dreaded vowel food (eggplant, oysters, artichokes, etc.) It is a slow process, summarized beautifully by this meme.

So a week spent on scholarship, reading, and a lovely evening walk that took me to the Northern Pagoda.

Finally: how can I not frequent a restaurant that sports this winning slogan?