Antonio Escohotado Espinosa (Madrid, July 5, 1941) is a Spanish philosopher, essayist and university professor whose works, although focused mainly on law, philosophy and sociology, have addressed a wide variety of fields. He gained public notoriety for his research on drugs, and his anti-prohibitionist positions are known. The leitmotif of his work is an affirmation of freedom as an antidote to fear or the constraints that push the human being towards all kinds of servitude.
Escohotado declared more than once “not to have any other stimulus than self-clarification, nor a compass other than to find out how each thing is born and ends” Thus, his work has developed as a process of self-learning of the variety of topics that he addresses by applying a method of genealogical analysis, a historical approach that organizes information chronologically and is suspicious of taxonomies.
During the 60s he trained as a jurist and philosopher in the raciovitalista current of Ortega y Gasset and Zubiri influenced by the concepts of vital reason and historical reason, through which he gained access to the knowledge of Freud and especially Hegel, whose philosophy of religion analyzed in his doctoral thesis Unhappy Conscience (1972). This work, together with Reality and Substance (1985), an incursion into the field of logic and pure metaphysics, lay the foundations of a solid philosophical base on which the rest of his intellectual production rests. With De physis a polis (1975) he also went back to pre-Socratic thinkers, while at the same time playing a leading role in the emergence of the island of Ibiza as a countercultural focus in the Spain of the end of Francoism and the democratic awakening, by founding the Amnesia nightclub (1976). Over the years he evolved from a greater application to the abstract in his youth and early maturity, towards a growing interest in the data extracted from the observation of the most concrete reality, taking the option of “an observant science, cornered today by its predictive branch ”
Since then and until today he has devoted himself to studying and disseminating the origin and evolution of impersonal human entities that represent complexity itself, “which are neither volitional subjects nor inert objects, but beings of the third type such as human understanding, family or political economy, the result of the concurrence of unlimited individual actions in some order not planned a priori “This interest in reality as an emancipatory principle of simplification places Escohotado’s work in the link between ontology and the sciences of Man according to Hume’s expression: its interdisciplinary perspective combines a great diversity of knowledge and interests from a humanistic position. Starting from logic and metaphysics, he delves into epistemology and the theory of science, to later derive towards even more properly human phenomena such as the economy and political power, gender myths and family and sexual customs, or forms of drunkenness. The common impulse in all these fields is an affirmation of human freedom as an antidote to fear, or to the impositions of authorities outside of personal responsibility.
From the underground militancy during the Franco regime, his political positions have evolved until he defined himself as “a liberal democrat”, while in his work the idea matured that “any political utopia ends up being indiscernible of one or another eugenic project, euphemism for genocidal companies “Politically he is a singular thinker in the Spanish panorama, and not always well understood since he is not part of the traditional left / right axis, but rather focuses on the question of freedom / authoritarianism, rejecting utopianism and authoritarianism from pragmatic and rationalist positions. Escohotado became, for his contemporaries, a historian and analyst of current affairs, social practices and culture during the Transition through his numerous articles published first in El País and later in El Mundo and Diario 16. For example, those crimes of the state Perpetrated by the GALs, they are revealed to public opinion by Escohotado in opinion stands and essays on the sociology of political power such as Majesties, crimes and victims (1987), or The Spirit of Comedy, Anagrama Essay Prize in 1992.
As the author of the book General History of Drugs (1989), he achieved public notoriety in the last decades of the 20th century for his defense of anti-prohibitionist positions through articles and appearances in televised debates. He practiced the bioassay, testing, classifying and describing the physical and subjective effects of more than thirty different psychoactive substances for the writing of the user manual that, after several editions, would end up entitled Learning about drugs (1990-1995). He has maintained numerous controversies in the media for his opinions on sensitive issues for morals such as drug use, prostitution or euthanasia. The same thing that for his followers means independence of criteria or the cultivation of free thought, it is considered intellectual impertinence by his detractors, and has sometimes caused the rejection of certain academic circles that have accused him of professional intrusion, for example after the publication of the manifesto epistemological appeared as Chaos y Orden, Espasa de Ensayo Award in 1999.
It can be said that Escohotado is someone above all with a thoughtful spirit, although as can be seen in the aforementioned public controversies, he is also a person of action who, often letting himself be carried away by his temperament, has been exposed to uncomfortable or risky situations as during his youthful leftist militancy in hiding, his imprisonment for drug-related issues, or the police persecution after television interventions of great scandal in Argentina, unusual among those dedicated mainly to study.
On a professional level he has developed an enormous task as a translator that covers more than forty titles, among others the works of Newton, Hobbes, Jefferson and Bakunin, he has especially disseminated the work of Thomas Szasz and that of Ernst Jünger. Until his retirement in 2013, he served as professor of Philosophy and Methodology of Social Sciences at the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology of the UNED. Until very recently he has been immersed in the study of the history of the communist movement with the writing of The enemies of commerce. A moral history of property (2008-2014), an exhaustive monograph that has already ended with the publication of the third volume. In 2019, he was awarded the Juan de Mariana Prize for his defense of “freedom in response to the constraints that end up subjecting the individual to all kinds of slavery”