Stoned Ethics

Most research today explores therapeutic and spiritual dimensions of the consumption of psychedelic substances. But psychedelics continue being used also as means of improving selves and communities or as means of reflection in order to take best possible decisions in a variety of circumstances. In this view, consuming psychedelics comes to be bound up with attempts to engage the old question animating ethics: How ought we live?

This question, of course, is not the pastime only of seasoned philosophers or of ordinary folks striving to be good (whatever that might mean within their circumstance). It also informs contemporary modes of (health or population) governance, responsibilizing individuals with continuously raising their efficiency or creativity in the name of living well.

In this talk, I reflect on the ambivalent role of psychedelics within contemporary attempts to attain the good life. Doing so, I show that psychedelics carry the potential to being both a means of stabilizing contemporary capitalism and of bringing about profound transformations. In addition, I call for rethinking, and finally taking serious, so-called ‘recreational’ use so as to account for the entanglement of fun and work, of letting go and embodying virtues that informs much psychedelic practice.

Arne Harms is a PostDoc Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale. Trained as an environmental anthropologist, he currently researches ethics and everyday environmental activism as well coastal displacement between Europe and South Asia. On the side, he also writes on the Psychedelic Renaissance.


Glogauer Str. 21
10999 Berlin
Entrance 10 €
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