Philosophy of Psychedelics is the first scholarly monograph in English devoted to the philosophical analysis of psychedelic drugs. Its central focus is the apparent conflict ...
Philosophy of Psychedelics
is the first scholarly monograph in English devoted to the philosophical analysis of psychedelic drugs. Its central focus is the apparent conflict between the growing use of psychedelics in psychiatry and the philosophical worldview of naturalism, which holds that the natural world is all that exists. The book reviews scientific evidence that psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin can be given safely in controlled conditions, and can cause lasting psychological benefits with one or two administrations. Supervised psychedelic sessions can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and addiction, and improve well-being in healthy volunteers for months or even years. But these benefits seem to be mediated by ‘mystical’ experiences of cosmic consciousness, which prompts a philosophical concern: Do psychedelics cause psychological benefits by inducing false or implausible beliefs about the metaphysical nature of reality? The author integrates empirical evidence and philosophical considerations in the service of a simple conclusion: This ‘Comforting Delusion Objection’ to psychedelic therapy fails. Exotic metaphysical ideas do sometimes come up, but they are not the central driver of change in psychedelic therapy. Psychedelics cause lasting psychological benefits by altering the sense of self and changing how people relate to their minds—not by changing their beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality. The upshot is that a traditional conception of psychedelics as agents of insight and spirituality can be reconciled with naturalism. Controlled psychedelic administration can lead to genuine knowledge gain and spiritual growth, even if no cosmic consciousness or divine Reality exists.Less