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Old 12-16-2012, 06:01 PM   #1
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Some help with psychadelics and mental illnesses

I'm embarking on the long, tedious academic process of writing a philosophical paper discussing epistemological dualism, drawing on hallucinogenic experiences, mental illnesses, and information regarding sensory data as my primary sources of evidence. I know quite a few of you on here are smart fuckers, and while I have the philosophical side of the research covered, I'm looking for some good sources for the other aspects of the paper.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I want to do as thorough of a job as possible on this paper. It's to be submitted to a fairly distinguished undergrad journal in early 2014, and also because I want to go to a good grad school for philosophy and want to have a few scholarly, distinguished papers under my belt before applying.

I know a few of you think I'm a tool, but I would honestly appreciate any sincere help offered.

Muchas gracias.
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:47 PM   #2
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Maybe some of Graham Hancock's books can be used as reference for the hallucinagenics stuff, he seems a little biased though.
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:52 PM   #3
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Here's a solid bit of advice: Use spellcheck.
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:58 PM   #4
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^^ possibly the only help u will get in this thread
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:02 PM   #5
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I'll look him up. My main premise is that both the strict empricist and idealist face their own respective shortcomings and paradoxes -- namely that if the empiricist claims that hallucinogenic experiences are "not really there" then they fail to account for how they can be perceived. How can we perceive "what isn't there" if there isn't some grounding in reality? Naturalistic empistemologists (i.e the scientific community) might reject such an approach, but I find this to be a rather lazy way of averting the problem. Sure, neurons fire off in different parts of the brain in different ways, etc, but this is only an account for corresponding physiology during the event. It is not a refutation or even a true account for the phenomena itself.

At the same time, strict idealism is an absurdity in and of itself (another major premise of my paper, which I can and plan to thoroughly demonstrate but I'll leave out the details here).

Therefore we are confronted with a problem. For, on top of all the philosophical evidence to suggest it, we also know from modern quantum physics that strict empiricism is unreliable, and that our environment is influenced by our perceptions (at least to some degree). Therefore, neither idealism nor empiricism, in polar terms, are sufficient to account for hallucinogenic experiences -- and therefore, they are insufficient systems of epistemology in general.

So my hypothesis is that there must be some fundamental relationship between perception (the world of the mind) and environment (in the most abstract, broad sense, the world external to the mind) that can not only serve as the basis for a refined and sophisticated system of epistemology, but also account for the occurrence of hallucinogenic phenomenon -- epistemological dualism.

That's the focus and aim of the paper -- to examine that hypothesis. I figure hallucinogenic experiences are the most extreme (and therefore best) examples of perceptive phenomenon to use as a basis for research and evidence. And, to the best of my knowledge, psychedelics and various mental disorders are probably the best things to research. After all, for a system to be truly thorough, it must be able to contain and account for even the most extreme examples.


That in mind, anything you guys think would help is much appreciated. Thought I'd clarify what I'm going for here with this paper.

Also, feel free to "shoot down" my premises and ideas. I'm open minded, and I can only improve through criticism.

Last edited by Epidemic of Hate; 12-16-2012 at 07:29 PM..
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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I just got high before seeing this thread, and I can talk about this boring shit for hours. Will get back to you tomorrow. Hare krishna.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:22 PM   #7
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As said, look at some of Graham Hancock's work, as well as Terence McKenna. (Though you probably already know about him) I'm not knowledgeable at all, I just know these are names that are commonly thrown around in discussions of psychedelics.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:27 PM   #8
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William James's Varieties of Religious Experience is one of the most important works written on the subject, I believe. Along with some of Osho's work, but he's waaay more radical and also possibly isn't a legit guy. James, though, is gold.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYAK View Post
As said, look at some of Graham Hancock's work, as well as Terence McKenna. (Though you probably already know about him) I'm not knowledgeable at all, I just know these are names that are commonly thrown around in discussions of psychedelics.
I can't stand Terrence McKenna. I'm disgusted by the crowd of people that see psychedelics as a "Transcendent" experience or one that "supersedes" normal conscious states. I firmly stand by my belief that hallucinogenic experiences are nothing more than an altered state of consciousness -- one that needs a logically consistent, ontological grounding. And I've done various hallucinogenic drugs myself -- shrooms (in rather high doses, too), acid, DMT, etc. McKenna is also rather political and prophetic with his views.

I suppose I'm looking more for information on psychedelics from the standpoints and research of psychologists and neuro-scientists.

I'll definitely look into James. I'm familiar with him, but I didn't know that he had stuff to say on the subject.

Last edited by Epidemic of Hate; 12-16-2012 at 07:37 PM..
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:30 AM   #10
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Here's a solid bit of advice: Use spellcheck.
This, the amount of people that fail their papers because of spelling and referencing is hilarious here in the UK.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:29 PM   #11
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I'd recommend you read Sam Harris on the subject of drugs and spirituality. Very lucid.
And Aldous Huxley of course.

Last edited by EndlessCure; 12-17-2012 at 03:43 PM..
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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lol white people talking about drugs and spirituality

write about her instead:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar%C3%ADa_Sabina
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epidemic of Hate View Post
I'll look him up. My main premise is that both the strict empricist and idealist face their own respective shortcomings and paradoxes -- namely that if the empiricist claims that hallucinogenic experiences are "not really there" then they fail to account for how they can be perceived. How can we perceive "what isn't there" if there isn't some grounding in reality? Naturalistic empistemologists (i.e the scientific community) might reject such an approach, but I find this to be a rather lazy way of averting the problem. Sure, neurons fire off in different parts of the brain in different ways, etc, but this is only an account for corresponding physiology during the event. It is not a refutation or even a true account for the phenomena itself.

At the same time, strict idealism is an absurdity in and of itself (another major premise of my paper, which I can and plan to thoroughly demonstrate but I'll leave out the details here).

Therefore we are confronted with a problem. For, on top of all the philosophical evidence to suggest it, we also know from modern quantum physics that strict empiricism is unreliable, and that our environment is influenced by our perceptions (at least to some degree). Therefore, neither idealism nor empiricism, in polar terms, are sufficient to account for hallucinogenic experiences -- and therefore, they are insufficient systems of epistemology in general.

So my hypothesis is that there must be some fundamental relationship between perception (the world of the mind) and environment (in the most abstract, broad sense, the world external to the mind) that can not only serve as the basis for a refined and sophisticated system of epistemology, but also account for the occurrence of hallucinogenic phenomenon -- epistemological dualism.

That's the focus and aim of the paper -- to examine that hypothesis. I figure hallucinogenic experiences are the most extreme (and therefore best) examples of perceptive phenomenon to use as a basis for research and evidence. And, to the best of my knowledge, psychedelics and various mental disorders are probably the best things to research. After all, for a system to be truly thorough, it must be able to contain and account for even the most extreme examples.


That in mind, anything you guys think would help is much appreciated. Thought I'd clarify what I'm going for here with this paper.

Also, feel free to "shoot down" my premises and ideas. I'm open minded, and I can only improve through criticism.
I bolded what I believe is the heart of this issue. You may misunderstand the empiricist approach to some degree, since there is nothing in naturalistic epistemology that contradicts or indeed avoids the problem of hallucinogenic experience. The naturalistic approach just shifts the viewpoint a tiny bit: I'm going to argue for a revision to the bolded statement such that it becomes: Our perception of environment is influenced by perceptive 'machinery'.

I'll use vision as a proxy for perception throughout, since it's a conveniently well-understood topic both in terms of biology, image processing and learning algorithms.

The sense of sight is deterministic, and key to the relationship between environment and mind. Photons hit the lens of the eyeball and are concentrated onto photoreceptive cells which, by this interaction, change conformation (or polarity or some other biochemical parameter I can't remember), which induces an electrical charge that is then carried into the brain via action potentials in the optical nerves. From here on it's image processing and learning (feature recognition, etc.). It is perhaps intuitively obvious that what we end up seeing is a representation; the photons are "converted" to information through the photoreceptive machinery. If not, then you can sort of prove this to yourself through a simple, practical experiment: examining your own blind spot:

Take a blank piece of paper. In the middle, draw a little dot. Ten centimeters to the left, draw another dot. Put one hand over your right eye, focus on the dot in the middle (don't remove your eye from this point), put the paper close to your face and then slowly increase the distance. At some point the dot on the left will vanish. Everything else is the same. What happened was that the left dot entered an angle to your eye in which the photons it emitted could not be picked up; this is because you lack the photoreceptive cells in this spot. You would otherwise never notice this blind spot because the brain interpolates, i.e. "fills in" your reality in those places it misses.

Similarly, cortically blind people can respond to visual stimuli they don't know they perceive. This is called blindsight.

So now two things are clear: perception is facilitated by deterministically acting machinery, and the sense of perception (what eventually becomes the world we experience) is a complex process involving lots of post hoc "processing". From this you can use various neurological disorders to argue the nature of this processing pipeline, and you can emphasize the importance of hallucinogenics in understanding the processing pipeline because it's a little like turning the knobs on this part of the machine: psilocybin and LSD are structurally analogous to serotonin, a pervasive neurotransmitter, and binds to certain serotonin receptors. Why turning those knobs will result in that qualia is an extremely interesting problem.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antæos View Post
I bolded what I believe is the heart of this issue. You may misunderstand the empiricist approach to some degree, since there is nothing in naturalistic epistemology that contradicts or indeed avoids the problem of hallucinogenic experience. The naturalistic approach just shifts the viewpoint a tiny bit: I'm going to argue for a revision to the bolded statement such that it becomes: Our perception of environment is influenced by perceptive 'machinery'.

I'll use vision as a proxy for perception throughout, since it's a conveniently well-understood topic both in terms of biology, image processing and learning algorithms.

The sense of sight is deterministic, and key to the relationship between environment and mind. Photons hit the lens of the eyeball and are concentrated onto photoreceptive cells which, by this interaction, change conformation (or polarity or some other biochemical parameter I can't remember), which induces an electrical charge that is then carried into the brain via action potentials in the optical nerves. From here on it's image processing and learning (feature recognition, etc.). It is perhaps intuitively obvious that what we end up seeing is a representation; the photons are "converted" to information through the photoreceptive machinery. If not, then you can sort of prove this to yourself through a simple, practical experiment: examining your own blind spot:

Take a blank piece of paper. In the middle, draw a little dot. Ten centimeters to the left, draw another dot. Put one hand over your right eye, focus on the dot in the middle (don't remove your eye from this point), put the paper close to your face and then slowly increase the distance. At some point the dot on the left will vanish. Everything else is the same. What happened was that the left dot entered an angle to your eye in which the photons it emitted could not be picked up; this is because you lack the photoreceptive cells in this spot. You would otherwise never notice this blind spot because the brain interpolates, i.e. "fills in" your reality in those places it misses.

Similarly, cortically blind people can respond to visual stimuli they don't know they perceive. This is called blindsight.

So now two things are clear: perception is facilitated by deterministically acting machinery, and the sense of perception (what eventually becomes the world we experience) is a complex process involving lots of post hoc "processing". From this you can use various neurological disorders to argue the nature of this processing pipeline, and you can emphasize the importance of hallucinogenics in understanding the processing pipeline because it's a little like turning the knobs on this part of the machine: psilocybin and LSD are structurally analogous to serotonin, a pervasive neurotransmitter, and binds to certain serotonin receptors. Why turning those knobs will result in that qualia is an extremely interesting problem.
This was extremely insightful. I'll definitely do some more thinking with some of this in mind!
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Old 12-21-2012, 06:38 AM   #15
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I simplified the description of how vision works, since the real deal is quite complex on the cell-to-cell level, but it amounts to the same.

It's been several years since I did any reading in philosophy, so tell me: can you get into 'institutional trouble' by arguing from an inherently reductionist perspective? I remember this being one of the main arguments for traditional (anti-empiricist) hermeneutics.
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Antæos View Post
I simplified the description of how vision works, since the real deal is quite complex on the cell-to-cell level, but it amounts to the same.

It's been several years since I did any reading in philosophy, so tell me: can you get into 'institutional trouble' by arguing from an inherently reductionist perspective? I remember this being one of the main arguments for traditional (anti-empiricist) hermeneutics.
Not sure, reductionism and hermeneutics are not things I've spent much time thinking about yet. But your posts have been extremely helpful. Definitely going to influence the direction I take this paper.
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