Philosophy itself often arrives as a mind-altering experience, a new mode of perception unto our cosmos, at times so radical as to be hazardous. Thus can philosophy be seen as a psychoactive substance—yet the place of psychoactive substances in philosophy is not apparent. In this mildly chronological overview we shall shed light upon the history of the notable western philosophers who took psychedelic chemicals and how this may have influenced their thought—how psychedelics influenced philosophy.
Written by Psychedelic Frontier @ High Existence…
There is a logical fallacy that psychonauts tend to make called the Appeal to Tradition. Just as it sounds, this is when someone describes a particular method or system as superior because it is traditional. The truth, of course, is that a solution’s stature as a tradition has no bearing on its effectiveness. A tradition may be passed on for many generations and still remain fundamentally flawed.
Even psychonauts with the best of intentions commit this logical error. Having come to deeply respect a particular entheogenic tradition—for instance, the Amazonian ayahuasca ceremony—they insist that it is sacred. They begin to scoff at casual recreational users, claiming that the only proper way to ingest the “sacrament” is with a certain attitude or in the context of a certain tradition. “DMT is an ancient and sacred spiritual molecule,” they intone with grave voices (or what I imagine to be grave voices, as I read their posts on various forums). “It is a gift from nature, meant to be harnessed for spiritual growth and reconnecting with the earth.”
Now I’m a big fan of viewing psychedelics as sacraments, and I too have deep appreciation for both the chemicals and the long history of traditions surrounding their use. But that doesn’t mean such traditions should monopolize everyone’s attitudes and practices. No one knows what a particular drug is “meant for” or how it is “supposed to be used.” It’s the height of arrogance to claim knowledge of nature’s or God’s intentions, and we gain nothing by judging other people’s entheogenic journeys by our own deeply personal values.
Sacredness is inherently subjective; nothing is universally revered. A medicine or a ritual can only be sacred to someone. Amazonian shamans revere their psychoactive plants as wise spiritual teachers, so Mimosa bark and Caapi vines are sacred in their culture. But not in all cultures—the ayahuasqueros govern DMT use in their own thatched temples, not all over the globe. Likewise I am master of my bodily temple, but have no moral ground on which to judge the entheogenic habits of others. Recreational drug users are not profaning my gods or values, they’re just exploring their own psychedelic frontier. Maybe irreverently, maybe stupidly, but exploring all the same.
Read more via Sacredness is in the Eye of the Beholder.