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With all the focus on current issues, I was reminded recently that it is possible to lose focus on the timeless debates, that might not have a true answer but must be considered in order to have perspective on where we’ve come from to where we’re going.
I’m speaking, of course, on the ancient struggle between “Great Taste” and “Less Filling.” Now, I can’t say which is the correct perspective, nor would I presume to tell other people what they should think. What I can do is provide information on how great thinkers of the past considered the question, and thereby perhaps help others gain insight on the question.
On the Great Taste side of the debate, we have:
- Machiavelli said “It is best for a beer to have great taste and be less filling. But since this is not often possible, it is best for it to taste great.”
- Diogenes was looking for an honest man who could tell him where to get a beer with great taste.
- Max Planck spent his time determining the smallest amount of beer that could be called a cold one and thus supported great taste.
- Malthus thought that the world would eventually be unable to make any more beer, and preferred great taste.
On the Less Filling side:
- Nietzsche was a less filling man. He would often signal for another drink by saying “When you stare too long into an empty mug, the mug stares back at you.” Bartenders hated Nietzsche.
- Marx was unsurprisingly a less filling advocate, believing that great taste was imparted by the blood of the working class. Later on, Stalin would have Trotsky assassinated because the latter had been advocating for a great-tasting beer which Soviet technology was unable to provide.
Those who were unsure:
- Heraclitus believed you could never drink the same beer twice, but wasn’t about to let that stop him.
- Descartes said, “I drink, therefore I am.” and was therefore happy as long as he had a drink.
- Plato never let his belief in a beer that was the ideal proportion of both get in the way of drinking one now.
- Hegel spent most of his time trying to develop a synthesis between the two.
- Einstein had no particular position, however, he was also not invited out much because of his belief that God did not play bar dice with the universe.
- Schrodinger tried to determine if a beer was one or the other without opening the bottle.
- Sir Isaac Newton paid too much attention to medieval alchemists and spent too much time trying to transmute one into the other.
- Galileo believed it didn’t matter since both would travel down his throat at the same speed.
- Hammurabi decreed that if someone bought you a beer, you were obliged to buy a similar one for them.
As can be seen, it’s difficult to determine whether Great Taste or Less Filling is the more necessary requirement for a beer, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to find out for sure. Perhaps in the distant future, we may come up with the technology that helps us find out, but in the meantime, I invite everyone to hoist another drink and add their own or other’s opinions.