Existence of Eggplant

Juliana, Hilary and I visited a sandwich shop today for lunch. While ordering, Hilary was trying to ask the man at the counter what was in one of the calzones. We didn’t really know what he as saying and he didn’t speak English. In order to help us, he went into the back and pulled out the food he was describing—an eggplant. Of course, then, we all went, “Oooh, eggplant!” He and the other woman at the counter looked at us strangely, repeating the word. “Egg…plant?” they continued to say as we smiled and nodded. They were so fascinated by the English name of that particular food. While eating our delicious sandwiches, I reflected on how language is so necessary for communication, and yet there are so many different languages that can be impossible for two human beings to communicate. The thing that brought our opposing languages together was the object itself, which reminded me of the teachings of Plato’s Gorgias. He said that nothing exists, and if we knew that something existed, we could not communicate it to anyone else. But that eggplant existed, and its existence helped to bridge the gap in communication between us and the people behind the counter. So, in that way, I disagree with Plato. Things do exist, and it is that existence of things that helps us as human beings communicate with one another when words cannot.

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2 thoughts on “Existence of Eggplant

  1. I really enjoyed your thoughts on languages and how it can be difficult for two different people who speak different languages to communicate. Without language, it is safe to say that society and the world we know would be extremely different and quiet possibly nonfunctioning. While language is definitely a barrier to communication, as you said, objects can connect us, whether or not we know it. In this case, you were able to bridge the gap with eggplant. I agree that it is the existence of objects that bring people together, and in fact, sometimes objects can do a better job of communicating for us than language can. While language is a powerful tool of communication, I think that it is important to remember that objects can get the job done too.

  2. This is a really funny way of demonstrating language and cultural barriers! I’ve always thought that even without language we can find a common ground and understanding, whether it’s over politics, religion, or what we should call “eggplant.” Your concept of Plato’s object existentialism is on point, and the example is actually perfectly in line with what I described in my response paper. I would ask, however, what your thoughts on “truth” would be, as defined by the four schools of rhetoric that Berlin discusses, given the nature of what the “true” meaning of “eggplant” would be. Is it the same truth that we arrive at through different methods of communication (e.g. American English and Italian)? Or is it a similar truth with a different meaning? And does that different meaning make it a different truth altogether? I personally can’t give an answer, but this situation definitely brings the concept of truth to the forefront of my mind while reading it!

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