Monday, October 17, 2011
Martin Woenesser on the golden age for philosophy majors.
To appreciate just how bizarre the popular reception of Heidegger’s work could be, we need only turn to Berkeley in the 1960s. In 1968, the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who is best known as the founder of “deep ecology,” an environmentalist program that had roots in Heidegger’s later philosophy, was teaching at the University of California. Naess, a convinced Heideggerian, was guest-lecturing on a particularly relevant topic – existentialism. Many years later, Naess recalled teaching “Heidegger in an extremely serious way.” He told his students that they all had to go out and buy copies of Being and Time , which had been translated into English only six years before. Heidegger, he thought then, was indispensable, and he wanted his pupils to understand this. “But the students just sabotaged my plan,” he remembered.
They were just looking for some existentialist kind of sermons you see. One of my teaching assistants said, “At least half of them are high.” I said, “You mean tall?” “No, they are high!” And a lot of them were certainly on marijuana, at least. The teaching assistants said we could see in their essays which ones were stoned, because they may be good essays but suddenly the subject would change, or the writing might suddenly become impossible to read.
Naess’s story . . . would seem to suggest that, for the students in the 1960s at least, drugs came before Dasein , hemp before Heidegger. And yet although Naess thought his pupils were more interested in illicit experimentation than the hermetic work of Heidegger, a goodly number of them must have taken his recommendation to heart. As Glenn Gray pointed out in his piece for Harper’s in 1965, “it was hardly an accident that the campus rebellions at Berkeley and earlier at the University of Colorado were led by philosophy majors.”

Pp. 163-4
From Heidegger in America
Cannabis might help one dig existentialism, or metaphysical dreams aka Hegel or Plato--not likely to help out when one tackling Goedel's incompleteness proofs.

Naess is an interesting figure-before his ecological writing he was an analytical philosopher. Also bagged 25,000 ft peaks in Pakistan
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