Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thoughts on Substance Free Dorms

A number of the colleges we have been visiting have "substance free" dorms. It's an interesting concept. I'm not an expert on Aristotelian philosophy, but as I understand it, the form of a dorm defines its shape, the substance is the stuff the dorm is made of. Which at first left me puzzled about how one could have a dorm with no substance at all. But I think I have now solved the puzzle.

Obviously, substance free dorms exist in virtual reality--possibly in World of Warcraft, more plausibly in Second Life. There only can you have a building that is all form and no substance.

Which, now that I think of it, also explains how it is possible to have food with no chemicals in it.


Anonymous said...


jimbino said...

And once you get off campus, you enter the school-free drug zone.

Seth said...

I've known some students who had no substance. I think a school concentrating them in one easily-avoidable dorm is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

One of Empson's poems, "This Last Pain," has some possibly relevant lines:

Then feign what's by a decent tact believed
And act that state is only so conceived
And build an edifice of form
For house for phantoms to keep warm.

Anonymous said...

This must be a reference to medieval Christian theology. The dorm has no substance, but is composed of pure essence.

Unknown said...

I always find it odd that grocery stores have a section for organic food. What are they selling in the rest of the store?

David Friedman said...

Seth offers, as an alternative explanation, the conjecture that a substance free dorm is for substance free students.

An alternative along similar lines is that it is for students majoring in substance free courses.

Steve asks what food grocery stores are selling that isn't organic. I thought about that question--indeed considered including it in the post. But the answer is obvious.


Anonymous said...

Inorganic food sold in grocery stores

Baking soda (has a carbon atom but does not really qualify as 'organic')
Saltpeter (rarer, used on cheeses)

Anonymous said...

My xbf used to wonder if there is "substance abuse" is there also "accident abuse". Something to ponder.

Anonymous said...

The reason we got to this loony state is that the puritans out there were looking for a term that unites drugs and alcohol, which has nine calories per gram and is therefore more of a food than a drug. The term "substance" seems to work for a certain type of mind. But that type of mind works so poorly that drugs and alcohol could only improve its functioning.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Congress needs to pass a law banning the possession of substances. This will ensure that the nation as a whole becomes substance free.