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John Schwenkler wades into deep waters:

Can it be true that the very same movement that gives us the classicism of the New Criterion and George Will’s case against blue jeans is unable to recognize that our meals might also be part of what constitutes our lives as noble or, as the case may be, not?

[ . . . ] what eating well demands is cooking well, and then eating what you’ve cooked around a table and as a family: hence if there’s anyone who should be criticizing Waters’s case for buying fresh ingredients (lots of trips to the store!) and doing such things as cooking your own beans (takes hours!), it should be those parents who, unlike Gunlock, don’t or can’t manage to stay at home. But once again, making the case for the noble or virtuous nature of a certain way of life doesn’t mean making that life binding on everyone; Waters knows fully well that not all families manage to have a stay-at-home parent, and that those families with two working parents will have to cut corners when it comes to meals. This doesn’t, however, preclude her thinking that whenever it is possible, cooking should be given its due.


There’s more to say about the tension between dignity and nobility elsewhere, but here, it’s worth mentioning that people in general continue to meet resistance when sharing visions of the highest that actually purport to accurately capture the truth about what makes a thing higher than others. We may be settling into a kind of practical egalitarianism in which nobility is (inarticulately) considered to imperil dignity. The task for fans of the noble life, aside from making an accounting of its varieties, is to show how this might not be true — because it seems unlikely that we will abandon our emotional commitment to a sense of dignity. An important question is whether there’s anything ignoble about resigning oneself to the likely situation that the sense of dignity we care so much about ‘officially’ has actually replaced an ‘unofficial’ devotion to the protection and advancement of the real thing.

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