Plato’s Cookie

As an April Fools joke, the university that I will be attending next year released incredibly bizarre essay prompts for next year’s admissions cycle. Although they were not meant to be taken seriously, I decided to write an essay on one of those prompts. Here it is:

“To prefer evil to good is not in human nature; and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will choose the greater when he may have the less.” —Plato
If cookies are baked, why aren’t they called bakies?
—Inspired by all of philosophy

My knowledge of Plato’s philosophy tells me that he believed that all men are greedy and corrupt by nature, which is why they cannot live peacefully if unregulated. The have-nots will be envious of the haves, the poor will invent morality to prove that they are experiencing injustice, and unrest will cause an entire city-state to crumble. The solution, Plato asserted, is social organization. He went on to create a utopian, and almost communistic, society with rulers, warriors, merchants, and slaves. Each person was placed in each class solely through their physical fitness, affinity to classical music, and understanding of “The Doctrine of Ideas.” What I find particularly intriguing about this utopia is that Plato planned for God to be used simply as a plot device to encourage the submissiveness of the people. Even in creating a society with the sole purpose of justice, Plato was unable to bend human nature into compliance. Even in a utopian world so meticulously engineered, God is still required. A sense of purpose is critical in the humanity equation, and in a capitalist-consumerist-oriented reality as this one is, one is left to wonder where our sense of purpose stems from. The exploration of the essence of a cookie may provide an answer.

What is a cookie anyway? A proportioned combination of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter, which themselves are proportioned combinations of largely carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which themselves are proportioned combinations of neutrons, protons and electrons, which themselves are comprised of quarks, which themselves are make up of something mysterious that nobody really knows about. Going to a more larger scale, the ingredients of a cookie come from wheat, chickens, sugarcane, and cows. Two of these sources are plants, which rely on the movements of a big burning star at the center of our solar system as well as the evaporation and condensation of water in order to survive. The other two sources rely on the transfer of energy from plants into their cells, allowing their proportionally-orchestrated meatsacks to continue on with their lives. Humans consume that energy, acquiring the means to fuel our consciousness and to organize and compartmentalize the concept of existence with a plethora of institutions and conventions. With dizzying infinities of smallness and enormity extending on both sides of it, the cookie rests in the center of this absurd parade of perspectives. Right at the forefront of a screaming, writhing, intensely turbulent, vivid, and utterly complex reality of atoms, watercycles, chickens, and everything else, the cookie is the key to understanding the meaning of life.

The world, as analyzed with the cookie at its center, proves to be as organized as Plato’s imagined utopia. While we recognize that his world is artificial because we are aware that it is imposed by an outside source, the organization of the cookie’s reality is less blalant, since it has become so ingrained within our minds and habits. Indeed, the place the cookie has in our world is, as emphasized above, exemplary of the humanity’s desire for organization as a way to make sense of our crazy reality. Undeniably, objective order does not exist; the universe expands without a center, and we have no guarantee that gravity won’t disappear tomorrow. We have given natural phenomena names: atoms, thermodynamics, light, cows, and cookies because we pretend to understand how the world works and impose an illusion of permanence upon it in order to give our existence some sort of meaning. Our purpose stems from every aspect of this organization, including that of the cookie. The processes that spawn and are spawned by the cookie’s existence are, in fact, integral to the mechanism of our understanding of the world: it is, as one would say, an essential cog in the machine. As such, would labeling this means of organization as a bakie rather than a cookie necessarily disrupt this highly scrupulous order?

Plato’s statement indicated that men choose good over evil, despite their apparently evil tendencies. Unfortunately, since there is no objective definition of evil, it can not be mitigated solely through human choice. Plato’s utopia might have been able to do so, but does our organic and seemingly arbitrary means of organization provide a similar result? The difficulty of this question rests in our sheer inability to perceive the extent to which we are dependent on our social organization. To quote Shakespeare’s Lear, who, upon seeing a crazed, naked man, stated that “unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal.” We are thoroughly accommodated: our understanding of ourselves stem from our interactions with the institutions of the physical world, so it is impossible to recognize which of our natural tendencies have been curbed by our organized reality. For better or for worse, this is how we turned out to be. There is no knowing whether a reality with cookies is a lesser evil than a reality with bakies, but that is the reality we have chosen. Whatever truth lies in choice may be the way to reach an answer, but then again, aren’t truth and choice just another means of organizing reality?


6 thoughts on “Plato’s Cookie

  1. A perfectly reasonable response, if it were me, I’d have probably supposed the cookie’s consciousness was aggravated by being thus named to the point of madness – & chose the greater evil in order to redress this imbalance – unless it were an English cookie, in which case it would be a biscuit, or would be if your strange Amercian naming system wasn’t spreading over here! I’m sure there were no cookies here 30yrs ago! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, we had this whole thing about Jaffa Cakes, is it really a cake, or just a biscuit? You see Biscuits were subject to tax, while cakes were exempt, (it was a controversy here at the time) Anyhoo, there was no bracket for cookies, since they simply didn’t exist! 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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