Log in

The Civilizing Power of Wine

January 4, 2021 by Twan van de Kerkhof

According to The Economist, I have a lot in common with the great philosopher Desiderius Erasmus. Or to be a bit more precise: the Christmas special of my favorite newspaper attributed characteristics to Erasmus in which I recognize myself: “He believed in the healing power of moderation and reason and in the civilising power of wine and conversation.” Like Erasmus I strongly believe that meaningful conversations provide food for thought and I applaud ‘the civilising power of wine’, especially when accompanied by good food. Meaningful conversations help to examine and understand the life we lead, the world we live in and our own place in it. I believe that the exploration never stops and that our life stops if we stop learning.

Like Erasmus I believe in the spirit of the middle way. “Erasmus loathed the certitude of ideologues”, The Economist wrote. I cherish doubt as part of the journey of exploration and prefer it over certitude. Erasmus thought that fanatical passions could lead to terrible conflicts and that wars of words could escalate into “fights with halberds and cannons”. “The West is now in the grip of rival extremisms that mock every principle that the great man held dear.”  Erasmus might have become a member of ELP if that would have existed in his days, to participate in dialogues in which we listen to each other and are interested to be with others in their world to learn about ourselves. And have a glass of wine while doing so.