A paradox of reason – Part I

It doesn’t take long to encounter an old-timer who says that an alcoholic’s “best thinking got you into this room” or that the alcoholic’s “thinker is broke.” Often following that observation is the advice to “take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth,” or as a colorful local articulates it,Continue reading “A paradox of reason – Part I”

Being a philosopher in recovery

As a philosopher, I’m accustomed to being misunderstood. When I’ve discussed or written in this space about “outside issues” or prayer in traditional AA meetings, a lot of responses have frankly missed my point. I am not seeking advice on how to deal with my life. I know that I can leave an AA meetingContinue reading “Being a philosopher in recovery”

“Outside issues”

Hanging on many an AA room’s wall is the Twelve Traditions. The Tenth may be the most frequently cited: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. To understand what this means, one might consult Bill Wilson’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Wilson notesContinue reading ““Outside issues””

Belief and the infallible big book

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p 164. Meetings in my local traditional AA groups end with “A Vision For You,” usually followed by the Lord’s Prayer. It doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking to notice that the two statements that beginContinue reading “Belief and the infallible big book”

“Rigorous Honesty”

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; theyContinue reading ““Rigorous Honesty””

Social Contract, Classical Liberalism, and the Ideology of Individualism in AA

Sorta part 2 I previously wrote that Alcoholics Anonymous can be understood on the model of classic liberal social contract theory, as a society composed by the free act of individual persons. An obvious problem with a social contract is that if it is a democratic society, the majority has a tendency to rule asContinue reading “Social Contract, Classical Liberalism, and the Ideology of Individualism in AA”

The Social Contract of Alcoholics Anonymous

There may be no purer example of a society formed by social contract than Alcoholics Anonymous. It will come as no news to secular AAers that this doesn’t necessarily mean that AA is a bastion for equal rights of all. We forget that the great theorists of social contract were dangerous radicals. They rejected theContinue reading “The Social Contract of Alcoholics Anonymous”

On the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in AA meetings

To many in traditional AA fellowships, it is perplexing when secular, agnostic, or atheist members object to reciting the Lord’s Prayer in meetings. The basis of my own objections are that reciting the Lord’s Prayer allies the fellowship with a particular denomination and religion, and that it excludes and therefore oppresses me as a member.Continue reading “On the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in AA meetings”