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This article tries to define the concept of ‘gastronomy’ as constructed by Brillat-Savarin, whose ideas were much affected by the physiological and philosophical thought of the Ideologues, especially Cabanis. Despite the title of Brillat-Savarin’s main work, Physiologie du goût, he pursuits in the end a pleasure whichis far from a sheerly sensual gratification in eating. This article will initially consider his justification of gastronomy as a kind of virtue; next we shall examine how he shifts from the physiological investigation, to the social and moral dimensions, and his tendency to apparently undervalue the same sensual pleasures which he had previously justified, to develop instead his idea of a ‘social gourmandise’. Pleasures are in the end just a means to achieve the joys of what he calls ‘conviviality’, a kind of social pleasure accessible to those who possess “bon goût”, a formula that adds an intellectual facet to the sensual idea of taste.
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