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Heidegger on Drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

July 19, 2022

sometimes think that western philosophy is just a project to flatter the sedentary rich. Anyone who finds both the time and the interest to ask the question "Do I really exist?" has got a lot of time on their hands, after all. They're not bringing in a harvest, or resting after having done so. They're not glorying in the exquisite intricacies of Mother Nature. They're rather abstracting themselves - dogmatically, as it were, and to the maximum extent possible -- from all human emotions and motivations and questioning if their self truly exists in the vacuum thus created. But merely asking this question presupposes that the self is a neat quantum kernel, one that can be separated from all the experiences and motivations and personal history that some of us believe created it. Indeed, some would say that what we call "the self" is nothing but the creation of these influences, or rather these influences combined with the specific genetic heritage of the person in question.

This seems to suggest what Heidegger was "getting at" when he blamed the philosophical world for uncritically speaking of "being." It is meaningless (or worse, misleading) to speak of "being" without acknowledging the role of the modern technological zeitgeist in limiting and directing the way that any specific individual is allowed to "be" in the world. In other words "being" is not a neat little kernel whose unfraught existence can be assumed when one is speaking philosophically about a given society; "being" is rather a creation of a society and so must be examined with a critical eye toward revealing the way that society has defined this critical term. Heidegger could have stopped here, concluding that the moral of the story is that humankind should start purposefully constructing a society that provides the highest potential for "being" in the world, or what he called 'dasein'. Unfortunately, he believed that this ideal society had already been created and was ready at hand: it turns out that the best society for this purpose was (surprise, surprise) that created by German civilization.

What does this have to do with the Drug War?

When one erroneously considers the self to be a quantum nugget, as did Descartes, it follows that the "truest" self is that which is least influenced by extraneous inputs. This is how modern philosophy dovetails with Christian Science, for they both see no point in those disassociative states created by opium, coca and psychedelics -- this despite the fact that said states have inspired the creation of entire religions in the past. Modern philosophers want to discuss the "real' self, and that means the "drug-free" self, based on their flawed definition of the term "being" (not to mention, of course, their hypocritical and willfully mendacious definition of "drug-free"). Heidegger was on the right track here as well, for he acknowledged the role of mood in determining "being." Many modern philosophers, however, want to excise the word "mood" from their discipline and shunt it off to the Psychology Department, thereby emulating those physicists who dislike admitting the role of human cognition in influencing events. These latter materialists wish to replace the admittedly strange-sounding explanation of the double-slit experiment with an even stranger-sounding one of their own : namely, that the world is made up of an infinite number of multiverses, the consideration of whose collective existence will (or so we're told) justify our belief in cause and effect and the ultimate clocklike nature of the world we live in (or at least the clocklike nature of our particular universe, for we're also told that other universes may act according to different laws, god help us).

What practical effect does this have?

This false way of thinking about being, as a quantum nugget, leads us to think that there is a "real" self that will always come forward and shine, as it were, were we only to remove all external interference from things like "drugs." Such thinking naturally leads to (or at least inspires) reductionist science, leading researchers to assume that the true answers are those found as completely out of context as possible. Is a depressed person happy? Don't look at his mouth or facial gestures to find out: look at his neurochemicals!

The absurdity of this view is clearly seen in the following two instances from modern life:

1) Modern doctors today actually ask the absurd question, "Can laughing gas help the depressed?" It is, of course, true, prima facie, that laughing gas can help the depressed. What such doctors mean to say is: "Can laughing gas REALLY help the depressed?" -- by which they mean, "Can we associate a single specific neurological change with the happpiness being reported by the laughing gas enthusiast?" If not, then laughing gas is not "really" making people happy. It is a mere "crutch" ("crutch" being but a custommade pejorative to slam those therapeutic interventions whose success cannot be demonstrably attributed to a reductionist cause).

2) Until recently, philosophers have asked the absurd question, "Do animals feel pain?" Again, this would seem to be a prima facie truth (at least as regards mammals) considering how the screeching and pain-aversion strategy of our domestic pets strikes such a chord with ourselves as officially sentient beings. Of course, what philosophers mean to ask is: "Do animals feel pain in any way that will show up in a neurological scan or biochemical scan and therefore be REAL?" (If not, then presumably the philosopher will have to lecture the hysterical beast for 'shrieking inadvisedly', just as the above-mentioned reductionist doctor must lecture the patient for becoming happy unscientifically through using laughing gas.")

To make my final point about western philosophy's simplistic understanding of "being" (and the nonsensical attitudes that inevitably follow therefrom), let's consider some lines from a politically incorrect short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains," Poe describes an artistic but moody young man named Augustus Bedloe who walks off into the highlands, under the influence of an immoderate dose of morphine. As he begins to lose his way in the dense and foggy forest southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia, he describes the drug's onset as follows:

"In the meantime the morphine had its customary effect- that of enduing all the external world with an intensity of interest. In the quivering of a leaf- in the hue of a blade of grass- in the shape of a trefoil- in the humming of a bee- in the gleaming of a dew-drop- in the breathing of the wind- in the faint odors that came from the forest- there came a whole universe of suggestion- a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought."

Now, the reductionist westerner will read this and gasp: "Oh, that's bad. He's using drugs to attain a special state of mind. If he tried, Augustus could surely appreciate nature intensely without using 'drugs'" (just as the depressed guy mentioned above could supposedly be happy without laughing gas if he only tried).

Now let's ask the opinion of someone who, 1) has never heard of the Drug War, and 2) who believes that the existence of moods, regardless of their origin, does not render a "self" inauthentic. Moods are rather one part of the definition of the self. From such a point of view, the beholder would read the above lines and gasp: "Give me some of what HE'S using! Why aren't we requiring the use of this drug in botany classes -- or in the treatment of depression!!!"

Of course, the Drug War has taught us to believe that potentially addictive substances can never be used advisedly by idiot human beings, and so the duly propagandized westerner will decry the above response as heresy and hedonism (the more so in that the American government's propaganda arm, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, officially refuses to even consider positive uses for "drugs" for fear of thereby encouraging "drug use"). But the real point here is that the idea of the pristine "being," uninfluenced by moods and society, is a lie. There is therefore nothing inauthentic about experiencing the world "on drugs," unless we harbor a sort of Christian Science grudge against all psychoactive medicines based on some metaphysical beliefs that we won't even admit to ourselves.

This is an as-yet unrecognized reason for the Drug War's staying power: the fact that philosophy defines the geniune self as an isolated quantum nugget, thereby giving rise to a reductionist ontology that logically obliges us to spout nonsensical pieties like, 'Robin Williams could have been so much better if he didn't use 'drugs'" (again as that latter word is hypocritically defined by society). The fact is that Robin Williams would not have been Robin Williams had he not used drugs -- but that's something that the west can't see thanks to its false belief in a self that is authentic only to the extent that it is considered as an abstraction, unpolluted by mood and environment.

Putting aside Heidegger's Teutonic boosterism, his views on "being" tell us that the ideal world is one that best allows us to "be" creatively in the world, according to our "likes" (as defined by nature and nurture). It tells us neither to say yes or no to any psychoactive substances (from MDMA to SSRIs). It does reveal, however, that the notion that "drug users" are somehow inauthentic is a belief, not a deduced fact, let alone an ontological truth. Indeed, the whole problem with our modern undrstanding of "self" and" being" is that they presuppose a limited number of ways in which a person CAN "be" in the world -- as, for instance, in the age of the Drug War, one can only be authentic without using substances that are included in the hypocritically and politically defined category called "drugs."

As a 63-year-old depressed guy for whom all useful medicines have been criminalized by drug-hating American materialists, I will only add: "Let me be inauthentic, then! Legalize MDMA and Nitrous Oxide, and I'll be sure to tell everyone I meet that the joyous person they are encountering is inauthentic and unscientific! Just give me the damn stuff at long last!!!!"

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
I can't believe people. Somebody's telling me that "drugs" is not used problematically. It is CONSTANTLY used with a sneer in the voice when politicians want to diss somebody, as in, "Oh, they're in favor of DRUGS!!!" It's a political term as used today!
This is the mentality for today's materialist researcher when it comes to "laughing gas." He does not care that it merely cheers folks up. He wants to see what is REALLY going on with the substance, using electrodes and brain scans.
Amphetamines are "meds" when they help kids think more clearly but they are "drugs" when they help adults think more clearly. That shows you just how bewildered Americans are when it comes to drugs.
That's my real problem with SSRIs: If daily drug use and dependency are okay, then there's no logical or truly scientific reason why I can't smoke a nightly opium pipe.
Mariani Wine is the real McCoy, with Bolivian coca leaves (tho' not with cocaine, as Wikipedia says). I'll be writing more about my experience with it soon. I was impressed. It's the same drink "on which" HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their stories.
Prohibitionists have nothing to say about all other dangerous activities: nothing about hunting, free climbing, hang-gliding, sword swallowing, free diving, skateboarding, sky-diving, chug-a-lug competitions, chain-smoking. Their "logic" is incoherent.
If psychoactive drugs had never been criminalized, science would never have had any reason or excuse for creating SSRIs that muck about unpredictably with brain chemistry. Chewing the coca leaf daily would be one of many readily available "miracle treatments" for depression.
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
The Drug War is a religion. The "addict" is a sinner who has to come home to the true faith of Christian Science. In reality, neither physical nor psychological addiction need be a problem if all drugs were legal and we used them creatively to counter problematic use.
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You have been reading an article entitled, Heidegger on Drugs published on July 19, 2022 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)