This essay examines the existential philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas in relation to issues of food and eating. I argue that for Levinas, the act of eating is central to founding the ethical self, and that any understanding of Levinas's approach to embodiment must begin with what it means for us to ingest the outside world. Even in Levinas's earliest work, food is already a freighted ontological category. As his ideas mature, eating is transformed from the grounding for an ethical system to the system itself. The act of giving bread to another person takes its place as the ethical gesture par excellence. The story is not that we eat. The story is that we eat and develop a relationship to eating, and that relationship in turn helps determine our sense of ourselves in the world. Eating is the ethical event. The essay ends by asking how Levinas can help us answer the question, what would it mean to imagine every bite I take, or give to another, as a direct engagement with my own and my neighbor's existence?
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