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Food blessings connect all humankind in reverence for the Almighty.
Sharing food is the most universal cultural experience. Expressing thanks for food was humankind’s first act of worship, for food is the gift of life from above. In every culture there are sacred beliefs or divine commandments that require honoring the giver of life — God or the divine principle — through acknowledging the sacred gift of food.
A few days ago one of my colleagues, Philip Tedeschi, founder of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver, reminded me of a very interesting and important New York Times essay concerning our relationship with nature in which the concept of “solastalgia” was discussed.
While the concept seems to apply more to our relationship with landscapes, describing the pain we feel when we witness and feel their destruction, I had also written about solastalgia in my book Minding Animals concerning our relationships with nonhuman animals, who surely are an integral part of natural landscapes.
Philosophy and psychology need each other. Philosophy without psychology is a brain in a vat, artificially cut off from emotions and actions and the habits of life. Psychology without ethics is a chicken without a head, focused entirely on evidence without any clear sense of the goal. Practical philosophy is a bridge between the evidence-based techniques of psychology and the Socratic questioning of philosophy.
I wish that when I was suffering from social anxiety and depression at school, someone had told me about Stoic philosophy and explained the idea that my emotions are connected to my beliefs and attitudes, and we can transform our feelings by changing our beliefs. Instead I had to find all this out for myself, and it took me several rather unhappy years. When I did finally come across ancient philosophy, it helped me enormously...