Choose Plato, not pasties, urges new book
Released: Wednesday 30th May 2012 at 15:39
A new book by a North East academic says dieters should ditch the doctor, slimming pills and diet clubs, and pick up a book of philosophy for practical advice on shrinking their waistline.
Dr Peter Hayes, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sunderland, has written The Philosophy of Dieting, which is now available via Amazon, and is launched at the People’s Bookshop in Durham this Wednesday (May 30).
In it, Dr Hayes looks at the works of major philosophers such as Plato, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, not only for dieting tips, but also how economies can slim down and tackle the European financial crisis.
“For far too long we have been taking advice on how to diet from doctors and nutritionists,” says Dr Hayes. “Their advice has, frankly, been useless, and now we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. If we are going to get a grip on this crisis and lose weight we need a completely different approach, one that is inspired by philosophers like Plato, Hobbes and Locke.”
One solution to losing weight detailed in Dr Hayes’s book is similar to the austerity packages being imposed on Greece, Spain and Italy. This is the ‘diet contract’ favoured by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. In the diet contract you promise to lose weight to your ‘sovereign’ who punishes you if you fail.
“A second and perhaps a more appealing way to lose weight is put forward by the great democratic philosopher John Locke. Locke’s work formed the basis of the American constitution, but he also gave lots of explicit advice on dieting, which he linked to a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of the workings of our metabolism. Locke’s diet is simple, easy and cheap to follow.”
Dr Hayes not only examines the obesity epidemic, he also applies philosophy to help us to understand Europe’s financial crisis.
“The democracies of Europe, Greece in particular, have allowed people to indulge themselves and be greedy. Now austerity measures are being imposed on these states and the democratic wishes of the people ignored,” says Dr Hayes.
“The problems that democracy can cause are not new. They were well understood by the Greek philosopher Plato, who explained that democracy can make us overweight as well as adversely affecting the economy. According to Plato, in a democracy people are able to follow their desires and impulses in an unhealthy way. The result is that they become fat, or have a weight that fluctuates up and down. In other words, Plato explains how the obesity crisis, like the financial crisis, is linked to democracy.”
The Philosophy of Dieting: Lose Weight and Look Great with the Help of Philosophers from Plato to Camus by Dr Peter Hayes will be launched at The People’s Bookshop, 70 Sadler Street, Durham, on Wednesday May 30 at 7.30pm.