The New Gastronome


The Logical Neo-Positivism of the Popsicle

For the logical neopositivist the only sensible things we can say are those that we can directly verify with experience. We have three arguments: 1) Liuk’s stick is flavored with liquorice 2) The icicle is composed of ice water and 3) Calippo*  contains the essence of the popsicle. Let’s analyse them in depth.


1 Liuk’s stick is flavored with liquorice:

This is a sensible proposition: I buy a Liuk, eat the lemon popsicle, bite the stick and I know that it’s liquorice-flavored thanks to prior knowledge. The proposition (1) in addition to being sensible is also true.


2 The icicle is composed of ice water:

This is instead a logical proposition; it does not need to be verified with experience, because it is always true. It is analytical, it does not express anything of the world; it’s like saying: “Frozen water is made up of frozen water”. The analytical propositions define the limits of language, precisely because they are true in every possible situation. For the neo-positivist only the propositions like (1) and (2) are meaningful.


3 Calippo* contains the Ghiacciolitudine”, the essence of being a popsicle:

Finally, this is a meaningless proposition. I can not apply a method to verify whether it is true or false, therefore proposition (3) is a metaphysical proposition. Even if it does not seem, the metaphysical propositions are as nonsensical as a disconnected series of grunts.


A.   D.    V.   E.   R.   T.   I.   S.   I.   N.   G.



“The purpose of philosophy is the logical illumination of thoughts” (Wittgenstein, Tractatus 4.112). Each proposition must be analyzed in its components; if any component of the proposition is not verifiable through experience, then the whole proposition is meaningless. This is the task of neo-positivist philosophers: to clean up language from metaphysical statements, which are pseudo-problems without any cognitive value.




Criticism of logical neo-positivism: the holism of the popsicle.


For the ice- maker, no proposition responds individually to the experience. The propositions about the world around us are never subjected individually to the court of sensible experience, but always as a whole in solidarity with the other propositions that are part of the theory ( Duhem -Quine Thesis ). In short, I cannot evaluate the proposition (1) without taking into consideration my knowledge on the ice lollies in its entirety (considering, for example, that normally the stick of an icicle is made of wood).


And the logical-analytical propositions such as (2)? Ghiacci-olism claims that all propositions, including logical-analytical ones, are revisable. The only differentiating factor is our willingness to do without them; that is to say that a proposition is more or less revisable depending on its position in our web of beliefs. The fact that the neo-positivists deem some propositions such as (2) necessary and “true in every possible world” is due only to their centrality in the system under examination. If we take the yogurt popsicle, for example, the centrality argument does not withstand, because it is not solely composed of frozen ice water. All propositions are therefore empirical and none are analytical.


To further clarify, let’s evaluate what a system is based upon. Systems are efficiency-based — if it works, then its propositions hold up, otherwise, the system is abandoned. Therefore, there is no difference in substance between propositions such as (2) and (3): they can both be postulated of a system. In other words, there is no clear opposition between analytic and metaphysical: “As for an epistemological foundation, physical objects and Gods differ only in degree and not in their nature” (Quine, The two dogmas of empiricism ). The proposition (2) has simply proved to be more efficient in the system of the logical neo-positivism of the icicle until our yogurt icicle has not denied it.


Holism-Popsicles, the fallout on everyday life.


Every day in relating to the world we must check if the propositions are true or false — “The supermarket is open all day” or “The croissant of that pastry shop is delicious”. None of these verifications are able to be evaluated without considering our theoretical baggage, our cultural postulates. Each proposition is inseparable from the network of beliefs of which it is a part. Every time we move, the immense tangle of traditions, teachings, preconceptions and truths considered analytical, move with us.


Therefore, the question proposed by Ghiacci-olism is this: what is the use of questioning our postulates? If we assume that our knowledge of the world, like the scientific one, also alternates periods in which the paradigm is in force and periods of revolutions (Kuhn, The structure of scientific revolutions ), when will our paradigm be undermined? Sometimes a yogurt popsicle will suffice, but when will the themes deepen? How many contradictory perceptions on the periphery will serve to shake the warmth at the center of our network of beliefs? How many propositions will have to be denied by reality because we will show ourselves willing to change our mental patterns? In the answer to these questions is perhaps the thermometer of our wisdom.

*Calippo: is a freezie brand owned by Unilever, and sold as part of the Heartbrand line of products in most countries, including the Wall’s brand in the United Kingdom and the HB brand in Ireland.

Holism-Popsicle go real!


People: lots! (about 8 popsicles per type in 70 g molds)

Preparation time: 10 minutes per type plus the strength of your freezer

Ingredients and preparation:

700 gr water

550g brown sugar

100 gr granulated sugar


Prepare the brown sugar syrup: put the same amount of water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cool before use.


Prepare the granulated sugar syrup: put 100 gr of water and 50 gr of sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cool before use.




GREEN TEA AND LAMPONI:   125 gr raspberries, 2 green tea bags (about 8 gr)

Steep a strong brew of green tea and let it cool. In a saucepan heat raspberries with a spoon of brown sugar and let it cool. Alternate the mixture of raspberries with tea in the shape of the icicles and place in the freezer.



BANANA AND KIWI: 4 bananas, 2 kiwis

Whisk the bananas with 50 grams of previously prepared cane sugar syrup (if the mixture is still too thick, add a little cold water). Blend the kiwis. Fill the molds with the banana mixture and finish with the smoothies kiwis. Put to freeze.



POMPELMO ROSA AND MIRTILLI: 4 pink grapefruits, 125 gr blueberries

Squeeze the grapefruits and filter the juice. Add 100g of previously prepared sugar cane syrup. Blend the blueberries. Alternate the blueberries in the shape of the icicles to the grapefruit juice and put in the freezer.



MANGO AND PEPE ROSA: 2 mango, 5 gr pink peppercorns

Whisk the mangoes without the peel with 50 grams of sugar syrup previously prepared (if the mixture is too thick you can add a little cold water). Add the grains of pink pepper and stir. Fill the molds with the mixture and put to freeze.



MELON AND POMEGRANATE: 1 cantaloupe melon, the seeds of 1 pomegranate

Blend the previously peeled and cleaned melon with 30 gr of previously prepared cane sugar syrup. Add the pomegranate seeds and mix. Fill the molds with the mixture and put to freeze.



COFFEE AND CARDAMOM:   400 ml espresso coffee, 70 g condensed milk, 200 ml liquid cream, 20 cardamom seeds

In a saucepan heat the cream with cardamom seeds and 20 gr of condensed milk up to about 40 °. Let it sit overnight in the fridge with the infusion cardamom seeds. Prepare the coffee and add 50 g of condensed milk. Let it cool. Fill the molds up 3/4 of the way with the coffee mixture and to the rim with the mixture of cream and filtered cardamom. Put to freeze.


You can even make only one type, but remember the basic precept of holism: everything is greater than the sum of the parties.

About the author

Maddalena Borsato

She's a PhD student at the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and a messy pastry chef. Together, with playwright Jacopo Giacomoni, she founded - a website where they try to philosophize with a spoon - creating thoughtful pastry recipes; featuring pictures taken by Matteo de Mayda,