If you could take a pill every morning that would be guaranteed to wake you up – more quickly and more efficiently and more reliably than your morning coffee – would you switch?
Our six-year-old says, “No.” But then again, what does he know about morning coffee?
About Sean D. Kelly
Sean Dorrance Kelly is the Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Dean at Dunster House, one of the twelve undergraduate Houses at Harvard. He served for six years as chair of Harvard's Department of Philosophy.
Kelly earned an Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. After three years as a Ph.D. student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998.
Before arriving at Harvard in 2006, Kelly taught at Stanford and Princeton, and he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
Sean Kelly's work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. He is a world authority on 20th century European Philosophy, specializing in the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He has also done influential work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception.
Kelly has published articles in numerous journals and anthologies and he has received fellowships or awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, among others.
Fun fact: He appeared on The Colbert Show in 2011 to talk about All Things Shining.
Sean Kelly lives at Dunster House with his wife, the Harvard Philosopher Cheryl Kelly Chen, and their two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel.
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No. There’s something about the ritual of coffee…
I think so too. Can you say more? What is it about the ritual?
Taking a pill would be like hitting that Easy button from those Staples commercials. Sure it’d skip to the end, and the desired result would be there. But I would feel cheated, like I’d had a much less fulfilling or complete experience.
So I think we don’t drink coffee just because it wakes us up in the morning. I think that’s one reason, but that reason doesn’t capture the totality of the scene. There’s the experience of drinking coffee that isn’t accounted for. The smell, the taste, the sound of beans grinding (or not), and the slow, deliberate act of drinking the coffee to get to that caffeinated wakefulness. It seems that drinking coffee is more purposive than taking a pill would be, or that it somehow more closely connects us to our day by keeping this morning ritual.
Yes. And then I’d drink my damn coffee.
Well, I haven’t switched to Red Bull in the morning.
I switched to caffeine pills to both save money and because I prefer juice over coffee. I drew some graphs to make sure I was right. Needless to say, I’m an econ major.