August 04, 2008

The Purpose of a Marshmallow?

This isn't a joke. It's a very serious philosophical question. In the form of a joke.

I randomly started asking this question (What is the purpose of a marshmallow?) to people who came through my checkout lane, and then tearing apart their answers with my logic skillz, a la Socrates. I got exactly the answers one would expect to get:

"To be squishy and soft and sweet?"

"Oh, they go great in hot cocoa!"


I however, do not think that this is the purpose of a marshmallow, as obviously a marshmallow can be used to build a model of atomic structure, or to throw at graduating seniors (don't ask). So what is the purpose of a marshmallow?

Man created marshmallow, and thus what he created them for must be their purpose. Man created marshmallows with the idea of eating them, so they exist to be eaten, right?

I disagree. Man did not create marshmallows - man did not create anything! He cannot create, he can only fashion something from something else. Man can form marshmallows out of sugar and preservatives, but he cannot create them. He gets marshmallow-ness from God, all that is marshmallow comes from him - the sugar, the preservatives, and the purpose. Therefore, along with all material creation, its purpose is to help us get to heaven, and nothing more or less. Just like the gold is created only to be made into the monstrance and the nourishment of our soul, the sugar is created only to be made into marshmallows so that we can have fellowship while roasting them over an open fire, so that the carbohydrates can give us the energy to worship our creator, so that a kid can either be consoled by its sweetness or discover the shape of a molecule.

So think next time before you eat your s'mores. XD


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Blogger Theocentrica said...


August 05, 2008 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am much more of the opinion that the purpose of a marshmellow is merely to serve as yet another superfluous food item that certain persons might spend their moneys on. This is, given that America is a capitalistic society in which the prime modivating factor is personal gain of wealth for undisclosed purposes. Higher Purposes aside, the origional purpose for the marshmellow was thus, more likely an imperfect means to wealth or buisness sucess, although other purposes might flow from this first purpose as others encouter said marshmellow and interact with it.

As Christ justified humanity, perhaps God might justify marshmellows through human fellowship and the other goodness that came from the said marshmellow. Turning to your discourse, the gist being that all things come from God, I noticed you passed over the concepts of intellect and free will as applied to humanity. Admittably, the marshmellowyness, the suger, exc. have their deepest roots in the creator, but is not human will (and I am assuming Divine assent) also nessisary for the creation of the marshmellow? Humanity had to will himself to discover the concept and manufacture said marshmellow. As most, if not all, actions, human or divine, have some sort of purpose, and the most immediate creator of the marshmellow was human (I have never heard any tales of marshmellows from heaven) it is entirely probable that the origional purpose of the marshmellow was human greed. The marshmellow was then justified by the creator as a means of fellowship, sweet fluffy goodness (though too many make me sick), and whathaveyou.

I must say that this is probably the most random thing I have seen today >_> My kudos to you *raises glass*

- Louis

August 07, 2008 10:47 AM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Ah, but isn't God responsible for making the marshmallow's form possible, and thus in some sense preparing in the creation of the stuff it was made of for that justification?

August 07, 2008 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, but the means of its creation was man. I can set everything up, but if someone else comes along to put it all together, I may have had a part, but the other created it.

- Louis

August 07, 2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

The question, though, is which gives it its final cause? You may say the one who finally puts it together, but I should be inclined to take into account the intention of the person who set it up -- especially when said person is the one with omniscience on their side. While the purpose of the making of the marshmallow may have been greed, the purpose of marshmallow as marshmallow I would still say is the one given by the One Who gave it its nature. Similarly, the proper purpose of atomic power is not mass murder, despite that being what everyone had in mind when it was thought up and put together.

August 07, 2008 2:38 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Of course, an outsider would doubtless object that it is silly to claim that something as trivial as a marshmallow has a God-given purpose. My response to that would be that it is only silly if we attach an inordinate amoung of importance to the purpose of something as trivial as a marshmallow, or if we try to be exclusive about its purpose and its potential. The former would be if we were to say that defying a marshmallow's purpose is the same as defying human nature's purpose: while both are crimes, it is ridiculous to suggest that they are crimes of the same gravity. The latter would be if we were to say that one cannot use marshmallows for anything but their God-given purpose, and even more so if we were strict about what their God-given purpose is. On the contrary, they are open to being used for human purposes as well as long as the God-given purpose is not contradicted in doing so, and the God-given purpose of the marshmallow is not so strict as to exclude all uses that do not end in the consumption of the marshmallow. It is perfectly valid thus for us to use it for visuals of molecular structure. Further, it is even valid for their first human purpose to have been the aquisition of wealth, providing that desire was not inordinate such that it would be called greed; for not all desire for money or valuable material goods is greed, or else we would be forbidden ownership.

Also, this brings me to another point: we may very well say that there are multiple levels of purpose: a final Divine purpose, various immediate human purposes which are good or bad inasmuch as they partake in the Divine purpose, various not-so-immediate human purposes (between these two types of human purposes think of the difference between efficient cause, what a thing is made to do, and final cause, why the maker wants it done), and in particular among human purposes the initial human purpose of whoever invented the thing.

August 07, 2008 2:52 PM  

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