Chasing the fundamental nature of reality

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The power of psychedelics is gaining increasing interest in several fields of science. Some professional philosophers are attracted to the impact of psychedelics on philosophical thinking, particularly on metaphysics, which is the science of the most fundamental questions of knowledge. In the TED speech below Peter Sjöstedt-H digs up the “psychedelic history” of philosophy and manages to bring up names like Plato, William James, Sartre, and Nietzsche all of whom had some experience with substances that could be considered psychedelic. It is quite difficult to find convincing evidence for the contribution of psychedelics to the works and thinking of these philosophers. Rather, it seems that Sjöstedt-H wants, as it were, to secure the claim of philosophy for psychedelic research although the questions remain unanswered for the time being. The most important message in his speech seems to be just the wish that psychedelics would also be taken seriously in science:

“Psychedelics should once more be taken seriously as intellectual and aesthetic instruments, that can help us to understand not only what consciousness is but what we humans really are and what we can become in our relation to the wonder that is nature.” —Peter Sjöstedt-H

Peter Sjöstedt-H in TED
Philosophy toolkit

In the light of current research, the wish is more than well-founded, but it may still be appropriate to ask whether there is enough torque in the toolbox of philosophy to make that wish come true? As such, psychedelics and philosophy are an interesting combination—not because of synergies (there are none), but because they both are united by the pursuit of the same mystery—the fundamental nature of reality. They just do it very differently. Philosophy does it by reasoning and theorising, psychedelics just show reality by changing the human psyche in practice. The observations made by many philosophers about human perception are certainly justified, no doubt about that, but as philosophy is built on rather naive belief in man’s unique position in nature (which is referring to man’s ability to reach reality better than other beings), the starting point to evaluate psychedelics and their effects is almost non-existent.

Philosophy will not allow psychedelics to be placed on an equal footing with itself.

There are some clear reasons for its reactions. First and foremost, psychedelics threaten to make metaphysics an unnecessary discipline by threatening to nullify scientific realism. Actually psychedelics nullify all metaphysics by offering much more than metaphysics can handle. Reason so highly valued by philosophy has no special status in the realm of psychedelics, in fact it has no status whatsoever. Maybe that is why it assigns a higher position for itself. Psychedelics will be just a subject of study, not a parallel way of understanding consciousness. Philosophy has used to keeping questions so fundamental that it no longer notices plain answers, even if they were brought under its nose. Even at this stage it does not realise how useless it could be in describing reality. A academic philosopher studying psychedelics is like an armoured sprinter, he doesn’t understand what he’s after and therefore uses inappropriate tools. The stubbornness of that kind of thinking is in danger of turning out to be a ridiculous. This happened in philosophy a long time ago, as one author once put it:

We have arrived at a stage of development in which concepts begin to deviate from their original meanings and gain the most obvious self-purpose, a state in which science becomes a sleepless, gray, and leaden reflection of its own laws and in which the sole aim of philosophy is to define the sole aim of philosophy”. —Tatu Vaaskivi (a Finnish writer)

Psychedelics vs. philosophy

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which, by definition, deals with the fundamental nature of reality. Philosophical views about the fundamental nature of reality are mostly based on so called scientific realism, which argues that the reality described by the theories of science is true reality, that is, reality as it is. Psychedelics reveal reality in a way they are difficult if not impossible to fit into the reality of scientific realism. They don’t provide actual answers, they only give clues that should be able to be put in the proper frame of interpretation. Philosophy, however, refuses to accept realities in which rationality has no place or worth. Because of this, philosophy inevitably drifts into irreconcilable contradictions. In order to break the deadlock, we should find out how to explain why scientific realism is not the only frame of reference for explaining psychedelics.

Psychedelics are still an exotic phenomenon that threatens to go unexplained if explained in the context of scientific realism. The question still remains but the focus is beyond academic philosophy and scientific realism: why do psychedelics work the way they do, do they have any function, what do they say about consciousness and the human mind in general…? The revelations psychedelics produce are an uncharted area of humanity’s impenetrable, dark jungle—human mind. That vast darkness cannot be penetrated just by a scientific flashlight, which spreads only the light of rationalism. It seems that philosophy is only trying to discover new kinds of intellectual potentials. I think we should look for something much more specific: the key to the functions and activities of the human psyche, that is, the separate states of subconscious and consciousness. Incidentally, this is something that cannot be found out through psychedelics solely. The reason is that because psychedelics cause an artificial, or “unconnected” altered state of consciousness, the ultimate function of the state they produce cannot be unequivocally inferred from it (the experience itself).

But there is another way to do that…!

Mystical experience

Psychedelic experiences have a special and rare “twin sister”, if you could say so, which so far only a few people know it at all. That twin sister is the naturally occurring altered states of consciousness, meaning that the body’s own mechanisms occasionally trigger a state that leads to a radical change in the psyche. This is also called a mystical experience, mainly because it occurs for no apparent reason and completely without warning. As such, a mystical experience is similar to a psychedelic experience, it only arises without any psychedelic substances, it only happens to some people, and usually appears only once in a lifetime and usually in late adolescence. Why this is happening this way in the first place is not yet known to science.

However, I have a clue what it might be due to.

So where does this phenomenon come from? It is not a higher consciousness, not a deeper reality, not our superhuman nature, but, on the contrary, a return to the archaic mind of homo species. It is a profound psychic change in which, at the end of his/her physical and mental development, the human individual finally grows into a rare state of archaic adulthood. The change refers to the original mental state of homo species’ adults, which we have unfortunately lost due to evolution and a faulty growth mechanism. That particular defective growth mechanism of the psyche can only come to light through a naturally occurring altered state of consciousness. It should definitively end a period of human growth, a period that was only intended as a preliminary stage in life the purpose of which was to protect us during the early years. The end of this period means the death of ego and individuality and also the death of free and active volition and cognition, as many already know from their psychedelic experiences. It should make room for instinctively controlled actions and let us abandon our cradle and expand our home circle to cover the whole nature. Without the loss of individuality and ego, we are unable to experience anything genuinely and deeply, we are mentally lost and cannot understand the meaning of life. No matter how delightful the experience, it will remain short-lived and will pass away. However, if the mechanism worked properly, this should remain actively affecting the psyche. We are talking about the integration of psychedelic experiences only because the mechanism does not work. It is specifically the passing that tells us that the altered states of consciousness are malfunctioning and that the original function of change is to transform the individual permanently—from teen to adult!

The occasionally occurring mystical experiences, that also contributed to the birth of religiosity, are a partially functional remnant of this mechanism that our ancestors lost when they fought for their survival about 120,000 years ago. It is rather comforting to man that mechanism can be activated, even if only for a moment, by artificial chemical compounds. As you can see, in this way, psychedelics can be linked to the emergence of human species.

It is likely that, as interesting as philosophy may be, its thorough practice will only take us further away from the right answers and understanding of reality. Philosophy should step out of its cave of shadows. Because analytic philosophy is not in the business of giving answers but only questions, every philosopher who provides the right answers nullifies himself as a philosopher. It would be a good time for philosophy to think about how well its tools really work and replace them if they don’t.

Philosophy freaks

Alan Watts — Ludwig Wittgentein

Despite the differences, Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) were very close in their thoughts and how they tried to make sense of the human world. Both men dealt with difficult problems of worldview and finally ended up in the paradoxes of language! Both men had the reputation of a prophet and a pioneer! Both enchanted their listeners with their seductive ability of reasoning. Both men saw philosophy as a useless fun – Wittgenstein as a slight help to lexicographers or an idle tea-table amusement, Watts as a kind of work in the field of entertainment – but nonetheless, both are still called philosophers! These minds were and still are highly appreciated for the reasons mentioned above — but in different disciplines. Wittgenstein did not live long enough to know Watts’ thinking, but Watts did know Wittgenstein’s works and in his lectures shared some thoughts on them.

Watts talks about Wittgensteins’ Tractatus and meditation.

Here below is an example of Alan Watts quotation from the book In the Academy: Essays and Lectures, in which he summarises the consequences of Wittgensteins’ Tractatus. Although Wittgenstein himself considered his work incomplete, its ideas still cannot be considered irrelevant.

Alan Watts: In the Academy: Essays and Lectures (2017), p. 81

Universe is smarter than we are – Alan Watts

Alan Watts

Our difficulty is that we have lamentable one-track minds in an infinitely many tracked universe. We may have to come to the alarming conclusion that the universe is smarter than we are.” —Alan Watts

Alan Watts (1915-73) was an Americanised British and a disseminator of Oriental thinking in the West. In a film shot in 1971, he discusses things that also my book deals and seeks to open up.

“We may have to come to that alarming conclusion, that the universe is smarter than we are. The basic mistake is that we’ve invented this wonderful system of language and calculation and that is at once too simple to deal with the complexity of the world. And also that we are liable to confuse that system of symbols with the world itself.” —Alan Watts

Watts localises the problem to man’s special urge to create concepts and experience the world through them instead of the world itself. As usual, he makes a good point. Watts’ specialty is that he knows how to be clear. He avoids complexity and usually explains things thoroughly. He understands that mysticism is not an esoteric field for insiders, but each and everyone should be able to understand it.

Nature

The Watts’ walk and monologue described in the recording tells me more about nature than about religions per se. And that is because Watts’ interest in religions and mysticism was not related to their dogmatics, but to the problems between man and nature. Religions spoke – between the lines – about the relationship between man and nature, the problems associated with the relationship, and attempts to understand the origins of the problems. These mundane aspects became later covered under the peculiar narrative of religions. Nature is not the backcloth for ceremonies of religions and mystics. On the contrary, nature in its various forms is at the core of all religions and mystical doctrines. Watts worked hard to clear the clutter of myths, ceremonies, and administrations from the core of religions and to make the language of religions more understandable.

The problems in the relationship between man and nature are visible through our senses and perceptions, which Watts reflects on the recording. Watts talks about how we observe things by simplifying them—without noticing it ourselves.

We say, well, let’s get things straightened out, let’s get this ironed out, let’s get it all squared away. And then, somehow, we think we understand things, when we have translated them into terms of straight lines and squares.” —Alan Watts

“There is something wrong with the way we think, and while that is there, everything we do will be a mess.”

It strikes me more and more, that our failure to feel at home in this astonishing brain in which we live, is the result of a basic, initial mistake in our thinking about the world.” —Alan Watts

I think what we’re doing as we are understanding the world in terms of languages, numbers, in terms of a logic which is too simple, too crude for the job.” —Alan Watts

Like Watts, I believe that man’s way of looking at the world through logic and reason is not natural, but there is a mistake in our way of thinking. My book agrees with Watts on the problem of the civilised man. Both are also trying to figure out why we carry that strange thing called consciousness. My book is, in a sense, a continuation of Watts’ thinking because it presents one alternative as to what the error could be and why it occurs in the first place. My book hopefully helps to understand the paradoxes that the problem of oriental thinking has carried with it from the Buddha to Watts.

What does tool making imply in terms of human evolution?

Again, this is a minor detail, but anyhow a good argument for the hypothesis of the hereditary defect of the human psyche. It is obvious that stone tool making tells quite directly about a very old, more than 2 million year old genetic defect that became much later the core of all humanity.

The pivotal point in interpreting the early human evolution in my hypothesis is to understand how the stone tool making begun in the first place. For some reason, this question seems to be completely ignored in the studies. Instead, the first question is “who were the first stone tool makers”. This sounds like we wanted to find this “mystery species”. But how a single species can be the explanation for making tools?? Species as such do not explain anything, it means just asking the question in different way. I’m positive new features like making stone tools did not appear to everyone at the same time. This is evidenced by the rather small number of finds; if each and everyone could have made stone tools, there would be many more to be found.

So how did the stone tools come from then?

According to my hypothesis, they came by few individuals who carried a special feature in their psyche. Most likely it was a genetic defect (and could have spread like colour blindness) affecting the behaviour by not allowing one to grow psychically into full adulthood. When these affected growing individuals were deprived of mental adulthood, unlike other members they were unable to adapt to their environment but, instead, wanted to modify it to make their life easier. For this they created stone tools.

In this video there are clearly right and interesting notions, including the fact that tool making changed the physical appearance of the offspring over time. That is very plausible. However, the most important question still remains here unanswered: why did early humans start making tools in the first place?

The hard problem

Well, David Chalmers is right. There is a hard problem in science, but the hard problem is not the object of research, but science itself and researchers with their anthropocentric worldviews and attitudes. Arguments about the mystery of consciousness and the “hard problems” associated with it are exaggerated in this presentation below (What is consciousness). They tell more about the internal problems of philosophy than about man himself. The problem is not that the human mind is a hard problem, as David Chalmers says in the video, but that humanistic world view refuses to accept a negligible part of man in the universe.

It is good to give thought on what psychedelic experience means in terms of Western philosophy, but then again it is hardly worth trying to sneak psychedelic experience into philosophy! There is a danger that psychedelics will nullify the most of what philosophy is built on. Psychedelics make rationality and logic – which are cornerstones in western philosophy – look rather flat and uninteresting. So, why are some philosophers (including Peter Sjostedt-H and Daniel Greig) interested in psychedelics? Well, I think it’s this: because psychedelics are about to make philosophy a dull discipline, philosophers try to prevent such conclusions from being drawn. Philosophers draw psychedelic experiences into the bottomless abyss of quibble so that they never could flourish and come back in life.

Philosophical reflection easily becomes mere smoke and mirrors. As a discipline, philosophy it can be imagined as a club whose members tend to stumble upon the language and make it a profession. The key task is to make the tail wag the dog. One could think that philosophers would take the lead to define the key concepts, such as consciousness, but they don’t. As much as they teach the importance of defining concepts, they forget it themselves. However, they have the audacity to argue that psychedelics are of no use unless one have internalised their philosophical meaning and framework of interpretation. The purpose of such claims is to take the base away from experiences as such and subject them to cognitive processes. Philosophical wisdom is the buzz of a fly alongside experiences that are hard if not impossible to translate into words. Perhaps that is why they “miss” the definition of consciousness.

In constructing a heavy, human-centered worldview, many philosophies make it extremely difficult to understand human mind. An engineered way to solve problems is a good thing for science, because it generates endless possibilities for new projects and exploration. In addition, it is up to science itself to determine the criteria for its success! I understand that science competes for attention and its place as a prestigious authority, but isn’t it a bit strange to talk about unlocking mysteries with logical reasoning! Seriously, I think they are mutually exclusive. Mysteries and logic do not simply fit together. That’s probably the purpose of the whole thing. Science programs that talk about human mystery are like cheap soap series that always resemble each other: they are full of promises but leave you only with new questions.

However, in science, it is impossible to think of better ways to solve problems than science has. And yet there is. When consciousness is thought of as a mystery, it also remains a mystery. And when one thinks of man as the most advanced being in the world, he’ll also remain so. But consciousness is not a mystery. It is simply a mechanism of our body that serves to protect the growing individual. This is not easy to accept in science, because for science it means the end of its work. That is why in many fields of science there are no answers, there are only questions. And even some possible answers ultimately exist, they are there just to create new questions.

Richard Dawkins and the nuisance of religion

Photo: Richard Dawkins, a well-known advocate of scientific thinking.

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist known for launching the concept of meme which can be understood as unit of cultural information spread by imitation, seems to criticise religion and belief because these are based on mass hysteria and the use of fear as a political tool. Science seems to work in another way: science is contemplating without being subjected to hysteria and without allowing the opinions of others to influence the outcome of the research. This is what Dawkins stands for. But is that so? Dawkins’ criticism also seems to focus on what could be called a form of illiteracy. It also gives rise to a phenomenon called fundamentalism, which is the inability to interpret a text any other way than literally. It is practically the fault of all those whose doctrine is written, both the church and the scientific world (but it is perhaps the jurists who are most responsible for it). Since science is heavily based on textualism and rationality (sometimes even rationalism), so it is not uncommon for Dawkins to read the Bible in the same way he reads scientific texts. But if so, he will make the same mistake as the church. If he wants to exacerbate the wrong reading, but in that case it would be reasonable for him to offer the right one. That’s not what he does.

The spearhead of his criticism points to churches, even though he labels things he doesn’t like as “faith.” Dawkins criticises the supremacy of tradition as a castrating force for critical thinking. The criticism is justified. But on the other hand, the same non-criticism is spread in civilised cultures, where a thing once proven is true and thus requires no further independent doubt. That is, science uses authority in the same way that the church does.

It is clear to everyone that faith is different from reason. On this basis, religions, especially the major religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, really seem to be fundamentally different from the sciences. But is it after all the “faith” that drives religious people into a mass hysteria and outrageously killing each other? If that is the case, then this very ambiguous term “faith” must mean something other than what these religions are talking about.

As a one hundred percent representative of science, mr Dawkins refuses to accept that reason does not extend everywhere, and that there could be any substantial entities outside of reason. He does not want to believe that reason has its limitations and shortcomings. However, this is what many people believe. This kind of “anarchist” way of thinking believes that not everything is born out of reasoning and that there are things that are difficult to explain rationally. Personally, I would believe that reason does not play as great a role in nature as science thinks. It is quite reasonable to think that man’s ability to reach the world with his senses is limited. But science seems to be stubbornly based on the opposite view. However, even though I have my own hypotheses, so far it has not been fully explored what biological limitations could have been associated with our human receptivity. On the other hand, it is also clear that irrationality cannot act as a veil for abusive activities, not even within the Church.

Fundamentalism and illiteracy

There are many types of illiteracy. The worst thing is not being able to read at all, the worst and the scariest thing is that you take everything you read literally. In science, this happens very often, in law regularly. Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, many people themselves do not see that there is as much fundamentalism in science as it is in religions. Fundamentalism lives through texts. In fact, fundamentalism is one of the worst scourges of civilisation. It is best seen in phenomena such as law, justice, and jurisprudence, where a cold and insensitive letter ignores this common sense. Who are more persistent than the lawyer, the judge and the legislator (politician) to can hide behind the texts and their bivalent logic. And to whom it is more important than to an academically active scientist, for whom theory is much more true than the living nature he perceives. However, Westerners do not see these as problems of fundamentalism! Why not? Perhaps because their effects do not surprise. Equally, all phenomena of fundamentalism arise from the same form of illiteracy as the sudden idiocy of terrorism. This problem is as old as education itself and it has its roots exactly where religions and scientific thinking were born: in the world of writing! The writings and their interpretations are the basis of the philosophical problems of science and religions.

The best science-driven fundamentalism is reflected in the way Dawkins reads the basics of Christianity. For example, he takes Mary’s virginity as a given fact, unwillingly or unable to see its symbolism. He criticises the ordinary people for doing the same, despite knowing the impossibility of “divine virgin birth.” Why is he doing this? He apparently does not want to interpret virginity as something other than literal virginity because he thinks so believers think. But what’s the use? He does not criticise fundamentalism, but the lack of rationality in fundamentalism. Why is that so? Well, he doesn’t understand people who are fascinated by symbolism that isn’t based on reason. He is a kind of fundamentalist himself. However, this is how we feel and demonstrate our human powerlessness. We may formulate our helplessness as admiration for something that is not clearly explained by reason. That, on the other hand, does not mean that our feelings of helplessness are unfounded. We are just not able to express the reason we feel powerless and why we need support. They are different things.

Justified criticism of religions

The religions criticised by Dawkins make human almost a supernatural being (although science often does it, too). However, the original idea of ​​religions emphasising personal spirituality was to be something else entirely: one had to try to be a part of nature, even though this feeling was unknown and a bit scary to man. The religions could not tell the reason for this, it was only said to be the reason for expulsion from paradise or, more generally, past sins and evil deeds, but, in science, it has not even been asked. Early religions were also not any mass movements from the beginning. The essence of religions includes privacy and personality and, after all, salvation was everyone’s own business. When religions become massive state religion they also become political, whatever their ethical message. Their core remains hidden in the fog of politics.

However, Dawkins is right that religious movements take advantage of people’s despair and powerlessness (often including illness) to support and empower themselves. It is clear that such activities fragile the foundation on which religions have been built. Many such features are based on misunderstandings — or ignorance, so to speak. Sometimes even children can be amused by the nonsense of religions. And such features are easy to attack. Spirituality, for example, has virtually nothing to do with non-human reality — religion only concerns human experiences and feelings. Religions also have nothing to do with children (hence children are called “innocent”). I don’t think children’s religious teaching is even necessary, because they finally can’t understand what it is all about (not even adults do!). If something should be said, then one could tell why adults believe as they believe. The inclusion of children in religious activities only makes spirituality even more incomprehensible.

We humans also differ from each other in the need for religions. Some reflect on “reality” throughout their lives and still feel unwilling to commit to any spirituality, while for others the connection to “something greater” is the most important thing they know. To understand religious thinking one should have the ability to read “between the lines”. Excessive love of logic only leads to fundamentalism. Cultural differences between people should not lead to ethical conclusions, as Dawkins does. It makes sense to say that even if Dawkins is partly right, blind faith in scientific methods can also produce stupid conclusions.

The two key milestones in the making of the human mind in a nutshell

The psychic peculiarity of modern man is explained by two major transitions: 1) genetic error, or mental growth disorder, and 2) the bottleneck effect caused by harsh environmental conditions.

1) The mental growth disorder: The gradual spread of the mental growth disorder among homo species began possibly as long as 3,2 million years ago, but at least 2,5 million years ago. It began as a recessive trait, meaning it was rare and carried only by few individuals. The first stone tools that appeared at that time, indicate this change in the psyche of these individuals.

2) The Bottleneck effect: The mental growth disorder remained relatively small in quantitative terms until the devastating environmental conditions in Africa led to a relative increase in its number in Heidelberg’s population about 120,000 years ago. The huge drought caused by the Ice Age in the northern hemisphere made the normal dominant feature of our genome disappear.

Thus, H. sapiens is not the result of natural selection, but of genetic drift. According to general knowledge, “genetic drift may cause gene variants to disappear completely and thereby reduce genetic variation. It can also cause initially rare alleles to become much more frequent and even fixed”. This is what seems to have happened in Africa during the Ice Age about +100,000 years ago. The dominant trait/gene disappeared, and the recessive trait/gene became the dominant one. So, this view does not support the hypothesis of multiregional evolution of modern humans.

Read more about how this happened.

What is understanding and what is experiencing?

Les Voyageurs statues by Bruno Catalano

The figure above confirmed my idea that there is some mechanism in our human psyche that must limit and modify our sensory perceptions so that they can be handled with very simple and idiot-proof tools. These idiot-proof instruments, like cognition, create a conceptually-focused world of classes and types that we call human reality.

It is an obvious forgery, but it is still difficult for us to see what is wrong.

I don’t think our senses are lying, but our minds do. Our minds can also be said to supplement or broaden the observations. Our tendency to supplement observations is often defined as the merit of our intelligence. Because of our intelligence, we only perceive wholes, changes, and differences, because intelligence does not deal with individual and unique things. Instead of individual things, we only see species, classes, types, races, peoples, tribes, trends, lines, formulas, series, patterns, shapes, variations, etc. The intellect does not understand individual things, but places them as “variables” in many different categories. Things that have no class, type, etc., are intellectually irrelevant. Similarly, variables are irrelevant without their equations. This is not a particularly positive thing. This way life becomes dry and theoretical.

So how does intelligence work? Understanding is the basic function of the intellect. By comparing, our intelligence creates understanding through categories and types and the changes and differences between them. What cannot be compared cannot be understood. Because individual things cannot be compared, neither can the intellect create an understanding of individual things. However, sensing an individual thing is the ultimate basis of all meaningfulness. We call sensing an individual thing an experience. Understanding and experiencing are practically mutually exclusive phenomena.

Admittedly, we claim to experience things, but hardly that happens. Experiencing is not just about being at the scene. As long as a person tries to understand his observations, he will not be able to experience them. And when he experiences, he is unable to use his understanding. These are incompatible phenomena. This can be seen e.g. in the context of psychedelics when experiences cannot be verbalised.

This is the nature of experience: experience is always the perception of uniqueness. For the same reason, it is the absence of intellect and understanding and the abandonment of all classification and typing. The reason why we can’t experience the beauty of the rose or the intensity of the now-moment is precisely because we can’t give up our attempts to understand what we sense. Even if we look at the rose, we don’t see it. Although we listen to the wind in the meadow, we do not hear it. We only understand uniqueness in retrospect, never when it is present.

Genetic problems

As we know, genetic defects can be found everywhere, but especially where man decides the fates of various species. There are also genetic defects in the psyche. This breeding began when early human influenced the fate of his own species about 120,000 years ago.

At that time, so called normal individuals of our species were eliminated. Modern humans grew out of the remaining individuals who carried the mental growth disorder that left them mentally at the level of adolescents. Few people realise that people suffer as much from the psychic problems caused by this so-called genetic drift as English bulldogs, for example, suffer from the consequences of far-reaching breeding. This is directly reflected in all societies as violence and cruelty, oppression, greed, mental health problems, and indirectly e.g. religions, spirituality and longing for nature. As far as the human psyche is concerned, modern human is as little a product of natural choice as an English bulldog.

The problems of the English Bulldog are rather easy to demonstrate whereas the problems of the human psyche mean the absence of a particular features and therefore are revealed only indirectly. However, they are both largely man-made.
Credit: Science Friday


Unfortunately, the cause of human problems cannot be shown in X-rays, for example, as evidence of spinal deformities of English bulldog. However, brain images have highlighted the possible deficiency of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter. However, the limitation of science is that something that cannot be detected cannot be scientifically proven, even if it could be inferred indirectly. The human mental growth disorder is precisely the kind of strange thing that must be deduced in the first place.

The logic behind psychedelic experiences

Basically, psychedelics can be treated in two different ways. They can be seen as distorting or revealing reality. If they are considered distorting, or as hallucinogens, there is no point in looking for their logic. Substances that distort reality have nothing to do with understanding reality. They should only be studied if they are not considered hallucinogens.

A mystic.

However, the logic of psychedelics is hard to find. Even if you believe they reveal reality, it is impossible to understand them simply by the sheer experiences they produce. Why on earth does the world look so different through them?! Experiences do not seem to open up reality, although, at the same time, they evoke strong feelings that it is through them that the world is experienced correctly! Religiosity is, of course, one way of interpreting, but on the other hand, religious phenomena need in themselves an explanation.

The contradiction between knowledge and experience is really difficult to explain. If the phenomenon is to be explained, psychedelics must be able to link to some psychic functionality, but to what…? Actually, there is one kind of functionality that psychedelics fit into, but there is one problem which arises from a scientific point of view: this functionality is rare and cannot be replicated as scientific proof would require. However, this is exactly the reason why it hadn’t come up much. This phenomenon is, as I call it, mental adulthood.

By mental adulthood I do not mean social adulthood, which is mainly an orientation to a social role. What I mean is a single event that should occur only once in late adolescence. Because of its rarity, it also has the name “mystical experience” So it is one type of altered state of consciousness. Despite its obscure epithet, the phenomenon has sometimes been a normal and natural part of the psychic growth of human species, but is no more! This phenomenon, which has not been recognised by academic research so far, has disappeared from the human life cycle and therefore its “return” through psychedelics is both confusing and in many ways healing.

What I want to say is that I have a plausible explanation for 1) why this has happened, 2) when this has happened, and 3) what series of events has led to this. I just want to say that 1) accepting and 2) understanding psychic adulthood is the only way to understand the effects of psychedelics. In my view, psychedelics are capable of mimicking the event of mental adulthood — even though they do not make it permanent. Only understanding that such an event should be part of the normal life cycle of our species and that such a thing has disappeared from us, can help to understand the logic of psychedelic experiences. 

In short, if the logic of our everyday perceptions is based on our child bodies covering our senses and minds from the diversity of the world, the logic of psychedelics is based on revealing that diversity to the adult! So our bodies fool children, but only to keep them better alive. While this view of psychic growth problems helps to understand psychedelic experiences and why they are so healing, it raises one big worldview challenge: at the cost of understanding is realising an adult modern human to be mentally deficient. This may be too hard a price for some, but many see it as a factor that finally explains the peculiarity and exceptionality of our species.