Asian Philosophy 17 (3):251 – 261 (2007)

In verse twelve of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu makes a curious claim about the five flavors; namely that they cause people not to taste or that they jade the palate. The five flavors are: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and spicy or hot as in 'heat'. To the Western mind, the claim, 'The five flavors cause them [persons] to not taste,' is counterintuitive; on the contrary, the presence of the five flavors in a dish or in a meal would expand or enhance the senses and the palate, i.e., taste would be augmented by the five flavors. So what is the plausible meaning of the Taoistic claim? To answer this question, I look very briefly at the history of the doctrine of the five flavors and the history of Chinese cuisine. Lao Tzu probably has Confucian feasts in mind in making such a claim, but other interpretations are discussed.
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DOI 10.1080/09552360701708662
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References found in this work BETA

Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy.Carolyn Korsmeyer - 2001 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59 (4):421-423.
Tao Te Ching.Gia-fu Lao-tzu, Jane Feng & English - 1972 - Hackett Publishing Company.

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Taste and Food in Rousseau's Julie, or the New Heloise. Wertz - 2013 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 47 (3):24.
The Elements of Taste: How Many Are There? Wertz - 2013 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 47 (1):46-57.

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