Using sandwiches to teach the socratic method

What’s special about a Manwich that it, unlike a sandwich, is a meal? For that matter what distinguishes it from a sandwich?


Some seem oddly adverse to the idea, but a taco is a sandwich. That goes for hard shell tacos (anything in fried tortilla), soft tacos (anything in tortilla), hamburgers and hotdogs, kebap or gyro in a pita, and so on.

The starting proposition, “anything edible held in a container that is also edible” is too general though, as it also includes candies in rice paper, soup in a bread bowl, and every Ethiopian meal I’ve ever seen. I would argue that a better definition is “any food loosely wrapped or held in or between pieces of a bread-like carbohydrate and meant to be held in the hand while eaten, without resort to any utensils.”

Note that this is still a bit vague, because a sufficiently small pizza once folded over could be a sandwich. So could empanadas, calzones, etc. That will probably raise the question of whether such things are a separate category, and if so you will probably also start to veer into the territory of “are empanadas a fried sandwich, a meat pie, or a hard dumpling… for surely, all we can say is that they are not a flatbread.”

Once you answer these questions, I recommend compiling your finding with relevant statistics and illustrations, and submitting it to Steve Jackson Games as GURPS: Snacktime.


That is for each man to decide for himself, though I personally believe that the act of cooking or baking food into a carbohyrate rather that loosely placing it in, on, or between such makes a pie or a dumpling, depending on how it is cooked and served.

I should be noted that sufficiently small cheese dumplings tread dangerously close to pasta territory. And that way lies madness (followed soon after by stews and harty soups).

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not if nobody hears it


“soy beef”?
That exemplar isn’t a sandwich because it’s not even a taco.


A burrito is not a sandwich. That’s the culinary ruling of a Worcester judge, ending, for now, a food fight between Panera Bread Co. and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

[Proof] 1 that Lawyers and Food Chains ruin everything.


A massive Hot Pocket. A Hot Pouch, if you will.

Most people think that categories (aka types) are groupings of objects or ideas characterized by a specific set of qualifying and disqualifying characteristics (aka characters or ποιότης). This classical definition of categories breaks down rapidly under empirical testing; there’s lots of scientific papers about it by people like Rosch and Lakoff. Classically defined categorization doesn’t work in real life, we’ve just been extensively trained to ignore the discrepancies.*

In reality a category is determined by the human cognitive process gauging resemblance to a prototype. Some resemblances are physiologically determined and are common to all normal** human cognition, others vary with genetics, others are culturally determined. For example, in some cultures the prototype of a chair looks pretty much like a Windsor chair, with a back, arm and sides, and in others the prototype of a chair is armless or backless. Thus for some people a stool is an object distinct from a chair, for others stools are merely a kind of chair; this is a culturally influenced category.

Tacos are sandwiches for some people, because of their culture. For others, they are not. The only way to get clear congruency of typing is to use identical observers, which is theoretically impossible, or deal strictly with those categories that are physiologically prototyped.

Many seriously harmful human categorization errors (like racism) and error cascades (like retaliatory escalation) are caused by the fundamental misunderstanding of typing we inherited from the ancient Greeks, that is well illustrated by the article Cory linked.

* we’ve probably all heard of “the exception that makes the rule” for example.

** don’t overanalyze the word normal or you’ll probably fall into the category of “pointlessly argumentative jackass”.


Is an open face sandwich a sandwich? Or is it a pizza?

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:trophy: :sparkles:

I didn’t play much GURPS, but reading the themed rulebooks was definitely a big part of my education as a young person. I’d read that.

A fish taco is therefore two tanks.


My local greasy spoon lists the “gyro sandwich”. Grates on me. It’s not a sandwich, it’s a gyro.

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The local Greek chain always responds to a “gyro” order with “loose meat or wrap?” As near as I can tell, gyro is not the final wrapped product so much as the meat itself, in reference to the rotisserie


And for others, tacos are life.
It pains me to have tacos brought up only to see a folded tostada.


Yes. Same thing if you slice a wrap in half.



Agreed. You can do this with almost any category word. “Salad” is a good one. So is “case.” I have, sorry to say, had both of those conversations for over an hour each at different times and with different groups of people.

How about 2 slices of pizza chicken on top of each other?


The chicken is itself arguably a sandwich, given that it’s surrounded by bread; I’ll give it a pass.

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I’d say any food contained within an edible membrane, be it corn tortilla, bread, or salami counts as the general case within the set of sandwiches. Any further distinction is quibbling.

I’ll even call chowder in a bread bowl a sandwich. It’s just a certain kind of sandwich.

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