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Immanuel Kant on Drugs

aka how the drug war censors philosophy

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

February 20, 2024

n his excellent lectures on Immanuel Kant recorded in 2011, the late American philosopher Daniel N. Robinson draws his students' attention to the satirical writings of the Scriblerus Club, a group of five Tory wits (including Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift) who ridiculed pretentious erudition in the Augustan age. The Oxford professor laments that such writers are no longer around to refresh the turbid springs of philosophical debate and to "call foul" whenever philosophers try to pass off presumptuous dogma as gospel truth.

I was saddened to learn of the professor's death in 2018, for I would have liked to share my theory with him regarding the reason for this lack of wit in modern times, for its source, I believe, is very evident to anyone who recognizes the fact that the Drug War imposes unnatural restrictions on human thought. The trouble is that our science writers have yet to recognize the Drug War (and its accompanying laws) as the censorship that it most clearly is and so they continue to write endless seemingly authoritative papers on subjects ranging from depression to the nature of human consciousness, all of which are necessarily pretentious because they are written in a kind of willful ignorance of the existence of psychoactive drugs and what the effects of their use might tell us about the topics in question. Such papers, in short, are written from the point of view of a drug-hating Christian Scientist and the fact that researchers never own up to this bias, even in a fine-print disclaimer, means that such research is not simply pretentious, but it is dishonest as well. Unfortunately, modern science writers get away with this, however, because their audience is composed of what you might call stealth Christian Scientists who have been taught from birth to fear psychoactive medicine. These infantilized readers may have never heard of the drug-hating religion of Mary Baker-Eddy, but they are convinced of its chief precept that drugs are dangerous and unnecessary, at least when it comes to those that affect mood and mentation.

You simply cannot have a real Scriblerus Club in the age of the Drug War - unless the members thereof are brave enough to attack the Drug War itself, something that very few academics are prepared to do, as I have discovered many times over the past five years as I have tried in vain to pry open the tenure-conscious mouths of prominent anglophone professors on this topic.

That said, a modern Scriblerus Club could have a field day in exposing the unacknowledged Christian Science bias of modern thinkers, for most non-fiction writers today reckon without the Drug War. They write as if mind-expanding and mind-improving medicines simply do not exist, while pretending that there are simply no downsides to substance prohibition whatsoever.

See that book on El Chappo? The author glorifies the hunt for a monster, never acknowledging the fact that prohibition created such monsters out of whole cloth. See that research paper about a new kind of shock therapy for depression? The author tells us that depression has been a seemingly insoluble problem for decades, when in reality MDMA and laughing gas (not to mention coca and opium) could cheer up a depressive in real-time and for all our fearmongering are clearly better expedients than doing nothing for the sad sack and so sitting idly by as she or he self-harms and/or commits suicide. See that article about the meaninglessness of the universe? The author attempts to logically justify pessimism, while failing to even mention the fact that the consumption of many plants and fungi (and synthetics derived therefrom) routinely results in ontological epiphanies for the user, in a new feeling (indeed, a new conviction) that there is a "meaning" to life after all, albeit one that cannot be spoken in words.

Then there are the endless magazines at the checkout counter of your local food store, whose flashy articles give you a set of "easy-to-follow" steps that promise to make you a happy person in a politically correct way, that is while ignoring all the medicines that could help you achieve that goal -- none of which have to be habit-forming, by the way, if used wisely (a common-sense fact which, however, has to be stated explicitly in an age in which readers have been taught from birth to consider the safe use of psychoactive drugs as an impossibility). Such self-help articles remind me of Steve Martin's advice for becoming a millionaire: "First," he says, "get yourself a million dollars."

This is not to say that eating a healthy diet, and/or jogging, and/or getting adequate sleep (etc.) can make no positive difference in a human being's life, but rather that these activities all presuppose the motivation to do them rather than supplying that motivation, as would medicines that mother nature has provided as if specifically for that very purpose.

Of course, Immanuel Kant wrote more than a century before drug laws officially censored science, but one imagines that the western viewpoint toward psychoactive drugs has never been positive, and so a kind of self-censorship has long been in force, whose chief effect has been to refer drug-induced experience to pathology and to deny it any revelatory power viz ultimate reality. This viewpoint stands in sharp contrast to the history of tribal peoples, all of whom, as ethnobotanist Richard Schultes tells us, have used drugs for healing, religion, and the fostering of social cohesion.

It is interesting to note, however, that psychoactive drug use could play a decisive role in "proving" Kant's ideas about the world of noumena, not by proving its existence in any logical way, of course, which is a task for which the human being, as Kant reminds us, is simply not constructed. We can, however, use drugs in such a way as to become viscerally convinced of the existence of such an ineffable world. Of course, even that experience will not bring understanding of the noumenal world, but it may at least hint at the deeper nature of truths that are well beyond our human powers to formulate. This idea about the ineffability of ultimate reality is a theme running through the writings of all the saints and has been echoed many times by the participants in the psychedelic-fueled rituals at Eleusis, not to mention the drug-user reports of researchers like Stanislav Grof and James Fadiman. Given their potential role in corroborating Kantian metaphysics (at least to the limited extent that such a corroboration is possible), such substances should be used by anyone who wishes to earn the title of "philosopher" in academia. Who knows? Someday philosophers may be required to FAIL a drug test to become tenured at any self-respecting institution of higher learning.

Meanwhile, we should recognize that Drug War ideology does not censor science impartially but rather it privileges the philosophy of materialism. It does this by outlawing precisely those substances whose use might make us doubt such a world view. In this way, the Drug War suppresses potential evidence in favor of the viewpoints of the philosophers from Berkeley to Bergson who have grounded our reality in qualities and perceptions rather than in the organized data of quantitative physics.

These are just some of the points I would have made in an effort to convince Professor Robinson that a revised Scriblerus Club would have its work cut out for it, for we live in a Dark Ages, wherein we are blind to endless possibilities that would be readily apparent to us were we to simply stop pretending that psychoactive substances do not exist. I would, in short, have advocated the creation of a new Scriblerus Club and humbly have nominated myself as a member.

EPILOGUE: Whenever you think that an idea is too crazy to have been tried, check the Internet. No doubt someone has tried it. I started this article under the assumption that I was the first to contemplate reviving the Scriblerus Club for our times; however, a Google search reveals that the task has already been accomplished, at least nominally speaking, at the dot-com domain known as Martin Scriblerus, the name of the putative author of the 18th-century memoirs of Jonathan Swift and company. Unfortunately, the modern authors ignore the Drug War like everybody else, which is a shame, because they could clearly benefit from using MDMA in order to calm themselves the f--- down and stop hating on immigrants and refugees - especially the ones at the Mexican border who are there because of the Drug War itself.

I cannot quite decide what the site is about, partly because the headlines broach such a wide variety of unrelated topics, and partly because the writing does not interest me enough to justify my prying deeper. Let's put it this way: the Jonathan Swifts of the world have nothing to worry about. The authors were obviously raised on The Simpsons and/or Rick & Morty and have come to believe that snarkiness is the ne plus ultra of human achievement.

There was one serious article on the front page, however, concerning the tragic death of a raccoon named Anna on the 18th of August 2017. (I think we all remember where we were when THAT happened.)

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In "Rogue Agent," the bad guy forces one of his victims to quit her antidepressants cold turkey. Had she been on any other daily drug, the take-home message would have been "drug dependence bad!" But the message here is "get her back on those important meds!" What hypocrisy.

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Immanuel Kant on Drugs: aka how the drug war censors philosophy, published on February 20, 2024 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)