Philosophy Dr. Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer at University of Exeter
Metaphysics and Psychedelic Research
Talk date & time :
It will be argued that psychedelic-induced metaphysical experiences should be evaluated and integrated with recourse to metaphysics. Psychology and Psychiatry alone are inadequate to do so, as the varieties, and determination of the veridicality, of such experiences are not in their professional ambit. There is a wide range of psychedelic experiences, some of which can be classified as ‘metaphysical experience’. Consider, for instance, reported psychedelic experiences of timelessness, extended specious present, nature-connectedness, sentient otherness, extra- qualia sensibility, pure consciousness, etc. How are patients undergoing psychedelic therapy to make sense of such experiences so to integrate them into their lives? Rather than immediately dismissing them as necessarily delusions under the assumption of the metaphysical position of Physicalism alone – which is the basis of the ‘Comforting Delusion Objection’ to psychedelic therapy, and partly of the debate between ‘Contextualism and Perennialism’ – the discipline of metaphysics can better situate, explain and thus make sense of such extraordinary experiences to patients. It is conjectured that opening the patient to such metaphysical possibilities, following their experience, may extend the long-term benefits of psychedelic therapy as the patient may be less inclined to immediately dismiss an experience as delusional but more inclined to consider its possible grander significance. Beyond the traditional, false dichotomy of Physicalism/Dualism the discipline of Metaphysics presents varieties of Neutral Monism, Idealism, Panpsychism, Pan(en)theism, transcendentalism, etc., and associated therewith are different conceptions of time, nature- connectedness, consciousness, etc. It would be negligent to omit metaphysics from therapy that can occasion metaphysical experience.
Dr Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes is philosopher of mind and metaphysics who specialises in the thought of Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Whitehead, and in fields pertaining to altered and panpsychological states of consciousness. He is a research fellow and associate lecturer at the University of Exeter where he has co-founded the Philosophy of Psychedelics Exeter Research Group, the ambit of which includes taught modules, conferences, workshops, and publications. Peter is the author of Noumenautics, Modes of Sentience, editor of Bloomsbury's Philosophy and Psychedelics volume, the TEDx Talker on ‘psychedelics and consciousness’, and he is inspiration to the inhuman philosopher Marvel Superhero, Karnak.