#49: The Sober Philosopher, Peg O’Connor, Ph.D on “Higher and Friendlier Powers” Sun and Moon Sober Living March 6, 2023

#49: The Sober Philosopher, Peg O’Connor, Ph.D on “Higher and Friendlier Powers”


Peg O’Connor, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her training is in moral philosophy, feminist philosophy, addiction studies, and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. She believes that philosophy helped her to get and remain sober. Avoiding Alcoholics Anonymous for the first 20 years of her sobriety because of the concept of a “higher power,” she is focused on using some of the great canonical thinkers in western philosophy to illuminate dimensions of addiction.  She further shares this in her latest book, Higher and Friendly Powers: Transforming Addiction and Suffering (Wildhouse Publications, 2022).  

In this episode, we discuss;

  • How philosophy supports sobriety
  • The importance of friendship
  • Higher and friendlier powers
  • The influence of William James on AA
  • Religion versus spirituality 
  • Spiritual impulses
  • Accessing joy in difficult moments
  • The problem with a rock-bottom approach
  • Building recovery capital 

Dr. O’Connor is regularly published in trade journals and writes a column, “Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken,” for Psychology Today, which has nearly 2.3 million total views online and select columns have appeared in the print publication.  Her expertise has been featured on BBC’s Free Thinking and Canadian Public Radio’s On Drugs podcast, as well as in print and online publications ranging from The New York TimesThe Chronicle of Higher EducationCosmo and Marie Claire to Vice and Salon. She has been invited to present on addiction and recovery at some of the country’s most prestige universities, in addition to workshops and talks in church basements, classrooms, community centers, and treatment centers.

To learn more about Dr. O’Connor, visit her website:


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