Reflections on Aesthetic Phenomenology, Shamanism & A Sketch for Elements of objective psychedelic states

(I was incredibly honoured to interview Dr. Rick Strassman on my podcast- The Naked Dialogue. Here are some reflections that arose in my psyche during our conversation.)

I. Aesthetic Appreciation & Eye-Consciousness

Human Eyes are psychic in nature as such that they continuously are driven towards satisfying those aesthetic needs- which they procure after scanning their immediate external environment. The drive nature permeates the eye-consciousness, hence allowing the eyes to focus on the aesthetics of the environment as opposed to the environment itself.

II. Morality & Ethics: The Sophists, Shamans & Mystical Prophets

The Sophists, from the pre-socratic traditions, were deemed *un-virtuous* on the basis of delivering the knowledge of art of persuasion and rhetorics for a fee. So, what is even a true shaman? Who is a true Guru or a teacher? The Shamans traditionally deliver the healing and guidance for the very virtue in healing others- those who seek spiritual assistance. However, contemporary shamanism is a return to the sophist tradition- as the Shaman becomes *un-virtuous* in delivering the mystical experience with the rightful and moral intent. Therefore, a false Guru figure, its very archetype, implies delivering the false message (the *impure-unvirtuous* message) to their students and spiritual-patients.

III. Bardo Resemblances in Higher Psychedelic States

To what degree does higher LSD & Psilocybin States resemble the DMT-Hyperspace Realm? The Tibetan Book of Dead, as per Timothy Leary- the Bardo Thodol, explains the common different states of a psychedelic experience. The very stage of the loss of ego-consciousness- the peak- the rise of the emergence of the white light signifying the three Bardos, seems to translate into the highest self-actualised realisation possible. And if often times within subjective accounts these higher-potent or higher-dose LSD, Psilocybin & Mescaline (along with other phenethylamines) are said to induce this white-light transcendental state, then what gives N, N-Dimethyltryptamine & 5-MeO-DMT its own unique hyperspace dimension? My speculations from an outsider-perspective (non-experiential) rests upon the hypothesis that this hyperspace dimension is rather an alternate visual dimension that exists within the compounds of the same reality the body resides in. One way to explain this maybe by imagining the continual replication of the hallucinated OEVs & CEVs (Open-Eye Visuals & Closed-Eye Visuals)- this could possibly induce a sense of existing within an alternate dimension from a perceptual view-point.

IV. Jacques Lacan’s Borromean Knot & the Psychedelic State

Jacques Lacan’s conceptualisation of the Borromean Knot between the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real can be translated into the sketch of the objectives components of the Psychedelic State. The psychonaut existing within the compounds of the Real, witnesses the assimilation of the Imaginary and the Symbolic through the ethnopharmacologic effects of the Psychedelic State- thereby, inducing the hallucinatory states. As these hallucinatory states, alongside several other effects like distortion of time, from a pharmacological viewpoint can be thus concluded as the objective components of a Psychedelic trip- as they are shared, and hence, collective in essence.

V. On Jungian Unconscious & its significance within a Psychedelic Experience

Through the lens of Jungian Analytical Psychology, the significance of the Unconscious can be roughly bifurcated, pertaining to its respective affects within a Common Psychedelic Experience. The Jungian Personal Unconscious can be identified in the emotive aspects of the psychedelic experience, through a close examination of the personal archetypes and their distinction from the psychedelic experience itself. Archetypes, in as much as they are collective, can also have a personal significance to them- i.e., the projection of the personal significance onto the archetypal pattern. In contrast, the Jungian Collective Unconscious can be recognised within the objective components of the psychedelic experience i.e., the common and shared ethnopharmacologic effects (distinct from affects)- in forms of cultural, religious and geometric archetypal patterns.

-Sanjana Singh//14.02.2021

On Cartesian Dualism, Qualia & Searle’s Chinese Room Thought Experiment

Consciousness of Shock, Victor Brauner (April, 1951)

I. Cartesian dualism entails that the body is essentially material made of matter, whose essence is extension and the mind as a non-material substance whose essence is thinking. This thinking component is non-spatial while matter occupies space and hence, body is spatial in essence. Human minds are the only substance in the physical natural world which are not mechanical and materialist wherein human beings constitute of a conscious-mind and a non-conscious physical body whose interaction pose a mind-body dualist problem to consciousness. Hence, the human mind constituters of mental parts imagination, sensations and feelings whereas the non-conscious components of the brain as part of the body constitutes of the neural networks that aid the processing of external stimuli in the brain. Therefore, it’s the difference between these characteristics that pose the very mind-body problem within certain dualist theories. 

II. Hypnagogic transcendental states of consciousness produces subtle to intense visual, auditory and even synesthetic hallucinations in human consciousness. Dualist theories have always expanded on the split between the body and soul i.e., in this case, the act of sensing vs the act of perceiving or hallucinations and delusions vs truth and reality. The dualist theoreticians have located persona i.e., our personal conscious identity within the ‘continuous mind’ as opposed to the ‘fleeting body’. Descartes’ rationale towards melancholia entails a correlation between the outer sensorial world and inner thought, and although hypnagogic mental imageries doesn’t necessarily favor objects seen with eyes, it dictates a complete disintegration between the mind and the body as the dualism persists (Meditations on First Philosophy). 

III. Qualia is the subjective conscious experience that constitutes elements of sensibility and emotivity i.e., sensible and aesthetic conscious presentations. Most reductionist materialists would reject the very existence of qualia, even though it’s merely another name for non-conceptualized experience, at least standardly (CI Lewis). Being a subjective conscious experience, qualia are only a part of consciousness as a whole i.e., qualia reside within the broader compounds of consciousness, and hence, is irreducible to physicality or materialism. Physical or materialist properties cannot be equated with a mentality, and hence it would be an unintelligible categorical mistake on the part of western scientific and analytical traditions to non-functional terms. Reductionist physicalism, however, poses a broader problem wherein the subjective aspect of the mind cannot be categorized within the objective methods of reductionist science. It would pose another hard problem for consciousness if physical theories of mind are framed without speculating the general problems of subjectivity and objectivity (Nagel). 

IV. Gilbert Ryle’s argument, famously known as “the myth of the ghost in the machine” poses a behaviorist view of the concept of mind and thus critiques Descartes’ bifurcation of a person’s life into two separate careers i.e., external and internal. His argument against this metaphor rests upon the theoretical struggles between the influence of mind and body which further pose categorical mistakes due to positing both mind and body within the same logical category. Therefore, Ryle argues that the cartesian dogma presents mind and matter’s polar opposition and rejects this dualism by establishing that physical processes may not necessarily be determined by mental acts. 

V.  Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment concludes that programming a digital computer may make it appear to understand the language but doesn’t produce any real understanding, hence, the Turing test is inadequate. Therefore, as the whole argument depends upon strong appeals towards intuition, it only follows that the Chinese room follows a purely Syntactic i.e., symbol manipulation process as opposed to a Semantic i.e, that of an understanding one. Thus, the Chinese room argument is unconvincing to those who don’t share Searle’s intuitions as it counts be solely accepted on Searle’s expertise, due to other philosophers disagreement. However, it is true that humans follow semantic processes.

-Sanjana Singh//05.02.2021