Thought of Antonio Escohotado Espinosa

Antonio Escohotado Espinosa is a Spanish philosopher, jurist, essayist, translator, university professor and sociologist, considered one of the great thinkers of the 20th century. He was born on April 5, 1941 in Madrid and his works have addressed various fields.

Escohotado Espinosa gained public notoriety for his research on drugs, especially for his anti-prohibitionist stance, calling for progress towards responsible consumption to avoid abuses generated by the economic interests of drug trafficking.

All his work is crossed by the defense of freedom as an antidote against fear and authoritarianism, which pushes human beings towards all kinds of servitude. Without a doubt, this character is extremely interesting and whose thought we will try to summarize in this article.

Brief biography of Antonio Escohotado Espinosa

As we have already mentioned, Antonio Escohotado Espinosa was born in Madrid on April 5, 1941, and at the age of five he left for Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) because his father was a press release at the Spanish Embassy. He lived there until 1956, when he returned to Spain in the midst of Franco's dictatorship.

Like many of us, Escohotado Espinosa was somewhat rebellious and mischievous as a child, and from a very young age he had a great rejection of religious institutions, probably because he went to a Catholic school.

Very recently, he himself admitted in an interview that twice he was about to be expelled from school for having put toads in the tabernacle, the box where the priests keep the hosts for mass Christian.

From a very young age, Antonio Escohotado Espinosa had an interest in and vocation for Philosophy, which is why he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the Central University and, later, at the Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Sciences of the Complutense University.

Intellectual training

During the 1960s, Antonio Esochotado Espinosa trained as a jurist and philosopher in the ratiovitalist current of Ortega y Gasset and Zubiri, influenced by the concepts of vital and historical reason, through who met Freud and Hegel , who had a great influence on his intellectual formation.

Aristotle was also very important during his studies and for this reason he has investigated numerous fields of philosophical knowledge , such as economic philosophy, pre-Socratic philosophy and the philosophy of science.

During the Franco regime, Esochotado Espinosa was an opposition militant in hiding and his ideas have been mutating.

To this day, he defines himself as a liberal democrat , along the lines of David Hume and Thomas Jefferson. He never liked entering into the right-left dichotomy, but he was interested in the debate between freedom-authoritarianism, taking sides with the first and rejecting any version of the second.

Thought and work of Esochotado Espinosa

In 1972, Esochotado Espinosa published his first writing: “The unhappy consciousness” , which was his doctoral thesis in which he analyzed the philosophy of religion of Hegel.

With “De physis a polis” (1975), the author went back to pre-Socratic thinkers and is a key piece to understand his interest in the origin and evolution of impersonal human entities, which represent the complexity of the human being.

In those years, Antonio Escohotado Espinosa lived in Ibiza, a place that was becoming the countercultural focus of Spain at the end of Francoism and the democratic rebirth.

These experiences on the island had a special influence on the character's interest in the topic of youth and drugs

“Reality and Substances” (1985), an incursion into the field of pure logic and metaphysics, is another of his most emblematic works.

But his most iconic book, and the one with which he reached maximum popularity, is undoubtedly “ General History of Drugs” (1989).

There he made a deep multidisciplinary study of more than 1,500 pages on drunkenness , addressing historical, cultural, mythological, sociological, anthropological, political, chemical and medical aspects.

Furthermore, for the writing of “Learning about drugs” (1990 - 1995), the author practiced bioassay, testing, classifying and describing the physical and subjective effects of more than 30 substances different psychoactive.

Escohotado Espinosa has always had a favorable position regarding the decriminalization of drugs, advocating responsible consumption and harshly criticizing drug trafficking businesses, not only from his writings, but also at conferences and other events.

It should be noted that a good part of “General history of drugs” was written in prison , since he was imprisoned several times for drug possession.

Other of his most recognized works are “The Spirit of Comedy” (1991), “Horlots and Wives: Four Myths about Sex and Duty” (1993) and “Portrait of the Rake” (1998 ).

It is really difficult to pigeonhole Escohotado Espinosa , because he has written on various topics . In addition, he himself recognized on more than one occasion that he does not like to be cataloged at all, showing himself against those who classify him within a school of thought.

What's more, he once said that “What in this life has kept me in an attitude of independence is a lot of love and intellectual curiosity. I don't admit stagnation, because what I like is studying and getting to know, there's no end to that”.

Other details of his life

Antonio Escohotado Espinosa has also worked as a professional translator, and in that case he has translated more than 40 different titles, including works by Newton, Hobbes, Jefferson, Bakunin, Thomas Szasz and Ernst Junger, among others.

Until 2013 (year of his retirement), served as professor of Philosophy and Methodology of Social Sciences at the Faculty of Political Science and Sociology of the UNED.

On the other hand, he was also immersed in the study of the history of the communist movement, with the writing of the monograph “The enemies of trade. A moral history of property” (2008 - 2014).

During the Spanish Transition, a period in which the country left behind the Franco dictatorship to be governed by a Constitution that restored democracy, Escohotado Espinosa wrote numerous articles for El País, El World and Diary 16.

Finally, in 2019, he was awarded the Juan de Mariana Award for his defense of “freedom as a response to coalitions that end up subjecting the individual to all kinds of slavery”, in which it was one of his last public appearances so far.


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