Thursday, 14 April 2011

Post-Class Intoxication

Note: Before I get into this entry, I must remind all of you (*ahem*philosophers*ahem*) that this is a generalization. Please feel most free to contradict me in the comments or in your own blogs. End Note.

Contrary to the slightly misleading title, post-class intoxication does not relate in any way to intoxication from alcohol, but to the intoxication from ideas. If you’ve not already seen this in your own philosopher, let me spell it out for you: philosophers love ideas.

Not only do philosophers love ideas, but philosophers love talking about ideas with other people, both philosophers and non-philosophers. Philosophers have learned along the way, though, that there are certain types of philosophical ideas that can only be really talked about with other philosophers. You and I just won’t really ever know enough about these sorts of ideas to talk about them with our philosophers unless we commit to a Millsian-type education (which I do NOT recommend you letting your philosopher do to you and/or your children) or enroll in a philosophy program ourselves.

It’s not that we non-philosophers are unteachable or stupid; we just don’t have the background, reading, and knowledge that our philosophers have obtained after years of rigorous training.

The best part about this is that our philosophers know this. They will not try to get you to talk about these super-intense philosophy things because they understand that we do not have the same training that they do (philosophers are usually very understanding people).

So, philosophers talk about these super-intense philosophy ideas with each other. And it is very fun to watch.

One of my favorite things to observe is philosophers emerging from an intense philosophy discussion. The best place to see this is right after a graduate class session.  The class session will end and little groups of philosophers with sally forth, deep in discussion with other philosophers. You will notice that they have excited faces, a sparkle in their eyes, and talk back in forth in animated and sometimes angry sounding conversation.

Do not be alarmed! Analytic philosophers often sound rather angry or harsh with each other when they are intoxicated by ideas. There may even be super-involved logic proofs or diagrams on white boards and/or very wild gesturing. This is normal. Continental philosophers just get really loud and talk quickly when they are intoxicated by ideas.  You may also overhear continental philosophers connecting lots of ideas together (i.e. “I think The Other’s significance in Freud is particularly important when considering The Ethical in Heidegger,” etc.)

Post-class intoxication can last anywhere from ten minutes to several hours. This depends on how many other philosophers are present, whether said philosophers are also intoxicated, and whether they have other, time-sensitive obligations.

The best things that a non-philosopher can do in this situation are (1) sit there and watch the show, (2) leave for a while and come back then the intoxication subsides, or (3) gently lead your philosopher in the correct direction if you have a time obligation, being sensitive to the fact that they may not end conversation immediately. If you sit with philosophers while they are intoxicated, you will probably discover that they may try involving you in slightly less intense philosophy after the intoxication has subsided (if you blend in well enough, they might consider you one of them), which can be fun for you, too!

It is important for both you and your philosopher that you do not try to often interrupt philosophers when they are intoxicated or try to make them stop being intoxicated. Though your philosopher loves talking with you, too, they don’t get a chance to discuss super-intense philosophy very often. Let them be. Don’t squelch your philosophers.

~The Philosiologist~


  1. A very interesting and amusing entry, I had to read them all and they have defiantly lifted my mood. Thank you for recording what your satirical eye captures.

  2. Accurate, funny and charitable/loving portrait of philosophers (the whole blog). Please keep writing!!

  3. Yes, great stuff. Please keep it up!

  4. This is a great post. I wonder if you've ever observed philosophers playing any specific kind of games in the post-class intoxication. We used to do a version of "boff-kill-marry" with our post-class ideas. Or make elaborate arguments about philosopher's favorite bands.

  5. Anonymous, while I haven't observed any games from my philosopher and his groupies, I'm sure it happens in my philosopher's department. I have seen them turn all sorts of things into logic proofs, though, which I suppose could count as a game. Sometimes I come into his office and see elaborate diagrams on the white board, illustrating various thought experiments.

  6. This is a wonderful blog. Thank you so much, you have really lifted my heart today.

    I personally get a kick out of the group which inevitably go gets coffee right away, then comes back to the room to talk philosophy after class.

    Another situation I alway find odd is when I'm speaking with a group which includes a professor and we manage to get to his/her office without noticing because of the intense conversation. At this point he/she usually says something like, "great class see you next week...". The group of stragglers look at each other hoping to ride the high a little longer. Upon realizing this the conversation dies and we split off into ones and twos....

    Thanks again for your wonderful posts and sense of humor. I posted a link on my own blog. Keep up the good work!

  7. Post-class intoxication! I love it. I study physics, not philosophy, but I can certainly relate. And my fiancee has watched many talks with my physics friends. This is a great blog.

  8. I love it! This is so true, and it's such an amazing feeling.

  9. "Though your philosopher loves talking with you, too, they don’t get a chance to discuss super-intense philosophy very often. Let them be. Don’t squelch your philosophers."
    Thank you.