The Vinegar Tasters

An Introduction to Three Great Philosophers of the
Activity: Tasting Vinegar
3 Dixie Cups on each table
 3 Different Vinegars (Brown Rice, Cider, Balsamic)
 Sheet of Paper to record your observations
Label each Dixie cup
 Dip your fingertip into the Dixie cup containing one of the
three vinegars
 Record your observations:
What did each taste like? Be as descriptive as possible.
Sour, sweet, tangy, bitter, spicy, woody, etc.
How did you react?
This painting is not a depiction of a real event, i.e.
Confucius, the Buddha, and Lao Tzu didn’t really get
together one day and sample vinegars
Instead, this painting uses images to represent ideas
 The
man on the left represents Confucius
 The man in the center represents the Buddha
 The man on the right represents Lao Tzu
What does the vinegar represent?
In the painting, Confucius has a sour look on his face
This is thought to represent Confucius’ idea that the
world is out of harmony with the natural order of
things, i.e. the world had soured
To restore harmony in the world, we need to:
 Return
to the ways of our ancestors
 Establish clear roles for everyone in society
 Obey certain rules appropriate to each role in society
The Buddha
In the painting, the Buddha is thought to have a
bitter look on his face
This is thought to represent his idea that the world is
full of disappointment and pain, i.e. bitter
The goal of life then is to avoid disappointment by
not expecting too much
 We
should not desire too much for then we are only
setting ourselves up for disappointment and bitterness
Lao Tzu
In the painting, Lao Tzu is thought to be smiling
This is thought to represent his idea that beauty and
happiness is found in experiencing things the way
they are and not how we would want them to be
 Vinegar
is a strong taste and it is “Wonderful!”
Restoring harmony with the world is not something
that occurred in the past; it can be achieved now
 Appreciate
the beauty that lies within everything and
happiness follows from that
Assignment for Next Week
Choose one of the three great Eastern philosophers
whose approach to tasting vinegar you agree with
Write up a summary of why that philosopher
believes vinegar/the world to be sour or bitter or
sweet (do some research on your chosen
philosopher, if needed)
Then, explain why you agree with him.
 Why
do you think that vinegar/the world is sour or
bitter or sweet?
 What lessons can we learn from this painting?

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