Tao Ruspoli on Drugs and Heidegger

gruodžio 6, 2011 § Parašykite komentarą

Drugs and Technicity: A Heideggerian Inquiry into the Evolution of Drug Use


“You must always be intoxicated… In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time which breaks your back and bends you down to earth, you must be unremittingly intoxicated. But on what? Wine, poetry, virtue, as you please…And if it should chance that sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the bleak solitude of your room, you wake up and your intoxication has already diminished or disappeared, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything that flees, everything that groans, everything that rolls, everything that sings, everything that speaks, ask them what time it is and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will reply: “It’s time to be intoxicated! If you do not wish to be one of the tortured slaves of Time, never be sober; never ever be sober! Use wine, poetry, or virtue, as you please.“

– Charles Baudelaire

“Opium cannot bear impatient addicts… It moves away, leaving them morphine, heroin, suicide and death.“

– Jean Cocteau


The use of drugs has undeniably played an important role throughout human history. Each culture, with the exception of the Eskimos before the west introduced them to alcohol, has accepted at least one mind altering drug as a part of its tradition and practices. Drug use has also always been controversial. Each culture has had strong negative opinions of certain drugs while accepting and even encouraging the use of others. However, it was almost always the case that the drugs attacked in one society were accepted in another. For instance, whereas American Indians used tobacco in their religious ceremonies, the Turks would sentence to death anyone caught with the same drug. Some Indian Yogis encourage the use of marijuana while condemning the use of opiates or alcohol. Muslim cultures, on the other hand, tolerate opium use but also do not accept the use of alcohol. In the twentieth century, especially in the west, we have witnessed a brand new phenomenon: the creation and use of new drugs which no culture views as valuable. Subsequently, drugs in general have suddenly come under tremendous attack. Synthetic drugs like heroin, cocaine, or cigarettes, for example, are understood to have no redeeming qualities even by those who use them most regularly. Nevertheless, it is drugs like these which are most widely used and abused in today’s cultures.

It is my purpose in this paper to trace the history and evolution of the use of mind altering drugs from a Heideggerian perspective. The questions to be answered thus fall into three categories: first, what role did drug use play in the past; second, how has the use of and the attitude toward drugs changed; and finally, what other social phenomena can be seen to have caused this change to take place. Using Martin Heidegger’s essay on “the Thing,“ I will attempt to analyze the possible reasons why so many cultures have incorporated drug use for so long, and why they have played such an important role in their rituals and practices. Next, it will be helpful to analyze the same philosopher’s essay entitled “The Question Concerning Technology“ to shed some light on the nature of the above mentioned new drugs. Heidegger’s essay on Nietzsche will help us understand why these drugs have gained so much popularity despite the fact that they generate such general mistrust. Finally, we will search for some solutions to the problems today’s drugs have undeniably caused.





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