School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

Come Dine With Kant

Philosophy researcher Alix Cohen to host dinner party based on Kant’s rules

Come along to the best dinner party in town to feed both your mind and your body at the Kilted Lobster restaurant.

Dr Alix Cohen, Chancellor’s Fellow in Philosophy, is hosting the event where you will discover that famous philosopher Immanuel Kant was also an extraordinary host of dinner parties.

Dr Alix Cohen

Immanuel Kant painted portrait

Kant: a celebrated dinner host

Despite his legendary (and supposedly boring) predictability, Kant practiced what he preached, and his talents as a host were celebrated in 18th Century Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). His dinner parties were the place to be seen, and the intelligentsia of Konigsberg yearned for an invitation to sit at his table.

Ever faithful to his reputation, Kant’s rules for the perfect dinner party are numerous, sometimes intricate and cover all the dimensions of the event, from food and drink to guests, conversation topics, and even entertainment.

Medicine for the mind

Kant believed that good meals and good conversation are ‘a veritable medicine for the mind’ – and who are we to argue with that?

Kant gives his masterplan for a great time in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. In this great work Kant stated that the number of companions must not be fewer than that of the Graces, nor more than that of the Muses, to optimise the quality of the experience for both our stomachs and our minds. That is to say, there should be at least three guests to ensure the conversation flows but no more than nine to avoid splitting into smaller groups.

And very importantly “whatever is said at the table, stays at the table!” There should be implicit social contracts of trust and security to allow people the freedom to articulate their thoughts without inhibition.

Moderate drinking and 3 course conversation

Even the use of alcohol has its place. Unsurprisingly, Kant was against drunkenness because it discouraged sociability, the exchange of thought and was a betrayal of our duty to respect ourselves. Nevertheless, and this may surprise many readers familiar with Kant’s reputation, he thought moderate drinking could be morally beneficial.

Kant recommended a 3 course conversation to accompany a 3 course meal. The starter is the sharing of news or gossip, the mains is a lively debate with multiple views expressed and save the comedy for dessert!

This German master was a savvy chap who advised against guests being too dogmatic or taking themselves too seriously. Just relax, have a good time and the virtue of philosophy will overflow your cup. Dinner parties offer the unique opportunity to realise and thus embody the ideal form of humanity – if only for a blissful evening. It is in this sense that they are the ultimate Kantian experience.

Event Registration

The Come Dine with Kant evening will be held at 7pm on Tuesday 21 November at the Kilted Lobster restaurant in 112 Saint Stephen Street, Edinburgh.

Tickets are available from Eventbrite at a perfectly reasonable £25 for food, wine and good conversation.

This event is part of “Previously… Scotland’s History Festival.”

Eventbrite – Book tickets for Come Dine With Kant