wisdom comes after taste

The Philosopher Michel Serres invokes an often forgotten etymological hint at our inherent source of wisdom as human organisms—our embodiment. He explains how

“we used to read in our textbooks that our intellect knows nothing that has not first passed through the senses. What we hear, through the tongue, is that there is nothing in sapience that has not first passed through mouth and taste, through sapidity. We travel: our intellect traverses the sciences the way bodies explore continents and oceans. One gets around, the other learns. The intellect is empty if the body has never knocked about”.

Not only empty, but perhaps even malnourished.

“Knowledge cannot come to those who have neither tasted nor smelled. Speaking is not sapience. The first tongue needs the second.

We were too quick to forget that homo sapiens refers to those who react to sapidity, appreciate and seek it out, those for whom the sense of taste matters – savoring animals – before referring to judgment, intelligence, or wisdom, before referring to talking man. The rise of the golden mouth at the expense of the tasting mouth. But hidden within a dead language, we find this confession of the first about this dead mouth: namely, that wisdom comes after taste, cannot arise without it, but has forgotten this”.


3 thoughts on “wisdom comes after taste

  1. Chocolate. I can learn in books all about chocolate, how it is made, its chemical composition, what it does to the body. This is knowledge.

    If I ate the chocolate I gain a sensory experience of chocolate and its effect upon me. This is wisdom.

    1. Yes, lovely. As Serres says “We could not know how to inhale or smell the idea of the scent of the concept rose,” simply because “the name of the rose has no fragrance”.

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