"...a brief overview of the evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans were both aware and tolerant of the use of psychoactive substances: opiates, cannabis and other plant-based drugs, while they simultaneously warned of the dangers of “poisoning” (what we would refer to as overdose) and prescribed precautionary remedies for it. In fact, according to Hillman, the only aspect of drug use that was criminal in these societies was the intentional poisoning of another person with a drug.
Hillman is mostly interested in presenting his case from a civil libertarian standpoint; since our own imperfect understanding of civil liberties is largely derived from Classical society via the Enlightenment, he wonders how we can have descended to a position so much less enlightened in this regard than our primitive forebears in the ancient world.
But in his defense of Greek and Roman recreational drug use, Hillman barely touches on what is to me, the heart of the matter: drugs may have stimulated the very visions and insights that gave early poets and philosophers levels of understanding that Western civilization has built on ever since, while systematically purging the parts of those understandings that didn’t gibe with any practice not useful to refining social control and/or increasing the production of profit. Hillman does make note of the pre-Socratics, chief among them Pythagoras and Empedocles, for whom mysticism and rigorous investigation of the natural world were no contradiction. He says: “the roots of Western philosophy reach deep into the fertile soil of the human imagination, where shamanism, divination, and narcotic experiences have held sway for thousands of years.” While this idea alone could easily be the subject of a book, Hillman is more interested in documenting classical references to drug use than to linking it to the production of important concepts and archetypes, from mathematics to theology..."
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Drugs, the foundations of Western Civilization.
Dissident Voice : Drugs and Social Progress Since the Greeks: