This from a reader:
I wanted to bring to your attention a passage I came across in Nicholas Rescher’s Philosophical Standardism (Pittsburgh, 1994):
“The old saying is perfectly true: Philosophy bakes no bread. But it is also no less true that we do not live by bread alone. The physical side of our nature that impels us to eat, drink, and be merry is just one of its sides. Homo sapiens requires nourishment for the mind as urgently as nourishment for the body. We seek knowledge not only because we wish, but because we must. The need for information, for knowledge to nourish the mind, is ever bit as critical as the need for food to nourish the body.” (p. 67)
I was struck by what I believed was the distinctively Vallicellan retort, “But it is also no less true that we do not live by bread alone.” I’m curious: Is this a well-known retort among philosophers? If not, did you get that from Rescher, he from you, or is this just an instance of great minds thinking alike?
None of the above. Here is what I wrote in 2012:
To the philistine's "Philosophy bakes no bread" you should not respond "Yes it does," for such responses are patently lame. You should say, "Man does not live by bread alone," or "Not everything is pursued as a means to something else," or "A university is not a trade school." You should not acquiesce in the philistine's values and assumptions, but go on the attack and question his values and assumptions. Put him on the spot. Play the Socratic gadfly. If a philistine wants to know how much you got paid for writing an article for a professional journal, say, "Do you really think that only what one is paid to do is worth doing?"
I wouldn't say that the not-by-bread-alone retort is standard among philosophers, especially not now when Christianity is on the wane and one cannot assume that philosophers have read the New Testament. Professor Rescher, of course, knows the verse at Matthew 4:4.
I didn't get the retort from Rescher: Philosophical Standardism is not a book of his that I have read. The retort occurred to me independently as I am sure it has occurred independently to many of a certain age and upbringing.
And of course Rescher did not get the line from me since his book was published in 1994 long before the blogosphere.
And it is not a case of great minds thinking alike since neither of our minds are great. It is more like above-average minds thinking alike, though I concede his to be more above-average than mine.
Is there anyone in philosophy more prolific than Rescher? Here is a list of just his books. Forty years ago I heard the joke about the Nicholas Rescher Book-of-the-Month Club. And he is still happily scribbling away. Here is another Rescher joke:
A student goes to visit Professor Rescher. Secretary informs her that the good doctor is not available because he is writing a book. Student replies, "I'll wait."