Meaningless Arguments #3: Are Eggs Meat? Part 1

Meaningless Arguments #4, Part 1

Greetings, ladies and unladies. Welcome back to Meaningless Arguments, where Thomas Stone ’19 and I discuss things so meaningless that, in meaninglessness, meaning is found.

The topic for this argument will be “Are Eggs Meat?”

This character: ⍚ will be used if one of us means to so rudely interrupt the other.

Adam: I believe eggs, rather, the egg innards which are consumed and referred to as ‘eggs,’ are meat, as they are edible animal material.

Thomas: Indeed, but in the strictest view of meats, a meat is muscle tissue, or a muscle by-product, such as sausage, hamburger, etc.

Adam: What about coconut meat? It’s hardly muscle; it’s not even from an animal.

Thomas: Say that if you will, sir, but two points. The first is that, by your own definition, a meat is strictly animal; you will need to revise your own definition. Second, branching off that, I say a coconut’s innards are meat simply in name, much the same way we call its liquid milk.

Adam: To address your first point, members of a set may have defining qualities without those defining qualities being those of the entire set. I never said all meat is edible animal material, but I did say all edible animal material is meat. (Upon further consideration, not all edible animal material is meat, but that is beside the point.)

Secondly, if we are to hold that coconut meat is only meat in name, then there is no basis from which to argue this point. If the language for which this argument is the basis can have exceptions to support your argument, it can also have ones that support mine. Therefore, if I accept your point that coconut meat is only meat in name, then I could apply this to any concept, skewing the definition to fit my every desire.

Thomas: There is a difference; first, members of a set need to have nearly the same properties. Du ⍚

Adam: If I have a set of living organisms, and I have a subset of animals, then organisms reside in the set which do not reside in the subset; the properties of the subset do not exactly reflect those of the set.

Thomas: Yes, but all living organisms are made of cells; it is a universal property binding all life together. The fact is that all traditional meats are animal tissue, such as beef, chicken, pork, etc. The argument that I am changing language fails because, rather, I am upholding its traditional meaning. Meat has, for most of human history, meant animal tissues, and pretty much always muscle indeed if not always muscle. Coconut “meat” is a chemical concoction made up mostly of complex carbohydrates in order to provide nourishment to the young plant which will grow inside. This has almost no, if not absolutely no, similarity to the older standing principle of animal muscle. One has to no longer be meat, and my choice is the coconut.

Adam:
(Aside) Curses! He saw my trap!
Anyway, your argument is that because meat is animal muscle, eggs cannot be meat?

Thomas: Essentially.

Adam: And by “muscle,” you mean muscular tissue? Would you include fat as part of meat?

Thomas: Honestly, there’s no reason why not to. The fat on steak is much different than solidified drippings, if that’s where you’re going with this. Anyway, fat and meat go hand in hand; they have been associated with each other as long history can remember.

Adam: I may be a pedant, but no, I was not going to bring up solidified fat drippings. What use is fat to an animal?

Thomas: Explain.

Adam: It sustains the animal when there is insufficient sustenance, no?

Thomas: Correct; is that not useful? Some animals live off fat for quite a while.

Adam: Yes, like the camel. So processed meat is also meat, then?

Thomas: Explain again.

Adam: Things such as ground meat products, hot dogs, sausages, and the like.

Thomas: Yes, that was part of my original definition.

Adam: How much of a hot dog do you think is muscle and fat?

Thomas: Perhaps not much. I know that there is a lot of bread and water, at least in cheap ones, but I believe, without getting the exact statistic, that there is enough.

Adam: Even still, it would seem to me that ‘meat’ is not as well defined as you seem to imply.

Thomas: It is defined well enough, I believe, we could get like the EU and set a specific percentage requirement for something to be meat, but that is 1) beyond my abilities right now and 2) and more importantly, that undermines language. There are some things which have been culturally recognized as meats long enough while meeting the definition well enough to be welcomed in as a slightly estranged cousin, perhaps.

Adam: So cultural recognition can result in an exception to the hard-defined rule? That seems like an unstable argument. Can other such exceptions be made?

Thomas: That is an exaggeration of my argument. I also mentioned that it meets the criteria close enough, the coconut is never getting in.

Adam: What criteria does it meet, exactly?

Thomas: It is a meat by-product; with that I add something to the criteria, it contains a traceable amount of meat. Obviously, something one percent meat does not count.

Adam: So you’ve changed your definition? Or are you saying that a product needn’t meet every criterion?

Thomas: Simply a revision; almost anything can be counted as a meat by-product. If you are applying for ‘meatship,’ it is best to have traceable amounts of muscle tissue (some which is nonfat) and long-standing cultural association recognized by scholars.

And that’s all for this issue! Next issue, we shall continue this argument. See you then.

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