What can psychedelics reveal about the nature of consciousness, self, and reality?
This collection of essays delves into some of the strangest and most profound aspects of the psychedelic experience, such as seeing the self as an illusion, feelings of deep insight, the sublime (fear mixed with wonder), encounters with DMT entities, déjà vu, and existential joy.
Drawing on research and theories from a variety of disciplines, Sam Woolfe reflects on the ways that altered states may inform our understanding of consciousness, the self, and reality. Particular attention is paid to the philosophy of psychedelics, with the aim of clarifying altered states through the lenses of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, epistemology, aesthetics, existentialism, and Buddhism.
In these essays, Woolfe balances open-mindedness with a critical and sceptical perspective - he believes that this approach is necessary when examining psychedelic consciousness.
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This collection of essays presents a clear, fascinating, and thoughtful introduction to the emerging field of the philosophy of psychedelics. New thoughts are mingled with established thinkers including Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Bergson, and of course, William James – who can in many ways be considered the seminal thinker in this field. Yet the application of the psychedelic experience is not limited to Western figures: we are also introduced to Eastern styles of thinking, somewhat seemingly alien to us Westerners, as well as to alien phenomenology in the extraterrestrial sense – not to mention otherworldly aesthetics, causation, and modes of illumination. Nothing is beyond limit in this book that explores the outer limits of the mind. ~ Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes, philosopher, lecturer at the University of Exeter, and author of Noumenautics and Modes of Sentience
The essays in Altered Perspectives eruditely unpick philosophical entanglements from the many corners of psychedelia, and they entertain as much as they enlighten. ~ Robert Dickins, historian and founder of Psychedelic Press
Sam Woolfe reveals that there is a great deal of territory where philosophy and psychedelics overlap – a region he mines in surprising and insightful ways in these essays, with visits to history, spiritual traditions, and ethnobotany along the way. Destinations in this whirlwind tour are fascinating and far-flung – there are explorations of déjà vu, DMT jesters, plant spirits, unreadable languages, and the possibility that we can remember our own birth. But Woolfe's feet are firmly grounded. His open-mindedness is balanced with a good dose of scepticism. ~ Cody Johnson, author of Magic Medicine: A Trip Through the Intoxicating History and Modern-Day Use of Psychedelic Plants and Substances