Psychedelic Philosophy: Metaphysics


Session 3: Thursday 31 January 2019 – Psychedelic Metaphysics

This interactive seminar continues our series in Psychedelic Philosophy. In the first two sessions we discussed what is ‘good’. In Sessions 3 and 4 we turn to considering what is ‘true’. Prior attendance is not required to enjoy!

Alan Watts said that ‘everybody, by virtue of being a human being, is a metaphysician. That is to say, everybody starts from certain fundamental assumptions.’

According to a well-known modern metaphysician, Peter Van Inwagen, three of the most pressing metaphysical questions today are:

  • What are the general features of the world?
  • Why is there a world?
  • What is the place of human beings in the world?

Some philosophers argue that asking metaphysical questions is pointless; that what we sense and feel about the world and our place in it has too strong a hold on our reasoning. As psychedelics can facilitate a radical shift in the way we experience the world, they have been described as valuable metaphysical tools. The 19th Century chemist Humphry Davy, for example, had his great idealist insight (‘nothing exists but thoughts!’) after a large dose of nitrous oxide.

In this seminar we will discuss Van Inwagen’s three questions in light of everyday and psychedelic experience, and consider what psychedelic experience has to contribute to the field of metaphysics.

Psychedelic Philosophy is a discussion group for people with an interest in exploring the philosophical issues related to the use of psychedelics. It is a lively, fun space to engage with ideas, have our preconceptions challenged, and connect with others interested in questioning what IS, and what it MEANS.

Sessions run every few weeks and include a short presentation by a facilitator, followed by structured discussion activities. Preparatory reading will be provided for those who want to do it, but homework is always optional!

Who will be facilitating these sessions?

Lindsay Jordan is a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts London, where she teaches philosophy and theory of education. She is currently researching the purpose of universities, the role of psychoactive substances as educational tools, and moral enhancement. She won the student prize at Breaking Convention 2017 for a doctoral assignment on psychedelic enquiry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRC2NLxokww), and spoke at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on ‘What Are Psychedelics For?’ (https://slideslive.com/38908575/what-are-psychedelics-for).

Mark Juhan graduated in Theology & Religious Studies from Pembroke College, Oxford and has just completed a masters Religion and Society at St John’s, Durham. He has been a lay chaplain and is currently applying for a doctorate in psychedelic theology. He is interested in the relationship between drugs and culture, specifically the potential of augmenting religion with ritual entheogenesis. Mark has spoken at Breaking Convention 2017 on Criticisms of mystical thrill-seeking (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsTvknCgFHU) and at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on a social study he has conducted (https://slideslive.com/38909222/the-dark-side-sociality-and-friendship-as-crucial-determining-factors).

► Please arrive early for a 7pm start

► It involves a bring-and-share supper: bring culinary goodies if you can.

► The event will take place at the Psychedelic Society HQ, in Homerton, 8 Mackintosh Lane, London E9 6AB