immanuel kant's rules for a good dinner party

food is super central to my life and it often serves as a key organizing structure. i’m trying to get better (over time) at eating seasonally and, as such, live in alignment with the seasons. more about that someday soon…

but beyond just my personal life structures, at the community scale, food organizes my life because of how i share food with folks. whether it’s a new connection or an old friend, 1on1 meal sharing happens frequently. i also enjoy group dinners (in fact, i hosted one this week with my friend nate).

a while ago, i ran across this blog post(immanuel kant’s guide to a good dinner party) about immanuel kant’s rules for a good dinner party. many of the rules really resonated with me and here are a few of my favorites (excerpted from the blog post).

(1) The number of guests should follow Chesterfield’s rule: no fewer than the Graces (i.e., three), no more than the Muses (i.e., nine).

(2) The dinner party must exist not merely for physical satisfaction but also for social enjoyment. (This is the reason for the bounds on the number of guests.)

(3) Anything indiscreet that is said at the table stays at the table: there is a moral sanctity to the dinner party, and a duty of secrecy, because without the trust made possible by these it is impossible to have enjoyable culture. This is not a mere matter of taste; it is a matter of the fundamental preconditions that allows free exchange of ideas in social interaction.

(9) Dogmatism is to be forbidden absolutely, whether it be on the part of the host or on the part of the guests. When people get too serious and insistent, start making jokes to divert them back to play rather than business.

(10) When serious conflicts arise that really and truly cannot be resolved, self-discipline is essential so that passions do not run too hot. Tone is absolutely essential; even if very serious topics are broached, every effort should be exerted to avoid any estrangement of the guests from each other.

i don’t always host group meals with these rules, but when i do, they do seem to go well.

other blog posts about kant’s dinner party rules

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