Weigh in on the Air-Soul, the Mother-Soul, Beatific Visions, the Psychedelic Renaissance, &c. Plus: The Oort Cloud Review Gets “Manifested”
Unfortunately I cannot answer any of these questions, although it would give me great joy to be able to do so in the future. I am, however, very interested in your turn on psychedelics, in particular your comments on whether they are a shortcut to spiritual/transcendental experience, or if that experience must be the result, or capstone, of a life lived in a certain way. You're saying that you have to put in the work, I suppose.
I'm inclined to agree with you, although I also have to wonder if for many people psychedelics can be the thing that opens the door for them to then go on that long progress through the eons, as you say. I'm sure there are many people who take drugs and then decide to start meditating, for example. I mean, I know these people. My point is, I'm not sure it's an either/or, but rather a both/and.
E.R. Dodds (not a philosopher, but a historian of philosophy) records in his autobiography how he and his Oxford friends experimented with a lump of hashish that one of them had brought back from a holiday in Algiers in 1914. It had the usual effects, and Dodds describes how it appeared to him that time had expanded like a piece of elastic: 'Was it, I wondered, merely a subjective illusion as some philosophers had maintained?' It nearly cost him his university career after he got into conversation with a friendly stranger on a train and naively started telling him about his experiments with altered consciousness. The stranger turned out to be the Oxford classical scholar J.D. Beazley, who might easily have shopped Dodds and his friends to the university authorities but fortunately stayed his hand. Coincidentally, or perhaps not coincidentally, Dodds was a contemporary of Huxley at Oxford and later a colleague of Zaehner at Christ Church.
If I were a philosopher with a sideline in metafictions, I would write a story about Wittgenstein visiting his friend Maurice Drury in Dublin in 1947. Drury has just started work as a psychiatrist at St Patrick's Hospital and tells Wittgenstein about a new drug, lysergic acid, recently synthesized by a Swiss chemist, with promising results in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Wittgenstein immediately demands that his friend get hold of some of this new wonder-drug for him to try ..
Query 1. “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” ― Simone Weil. Western Christian thought - not in some of its epigones, but in its masters - understands man not as composed of two separate things (body and soul) but as the conjunction of these two things. "The soul is defined as the first principle of life of those things which live" (ST, First Part, Query 75, Article 1). So the afterlife, if there is one, does not consist of a soul subsisting alone, since then it would be a form without the fullness of substance it needs to be a man; but of a soul reunited with a living body, to compose (an eternally living) man.
The soul "has no operation apart from the body, not even that of understanding" (ST, First Part, Query 75, Article 2). Contrary to animal souls, which "are produced by some power of the body" (ST, First Part, Query 75, Article 6 - today we would say that the animal soul or mind is an emergent property of the body) and are capable of sensations, feelings and memory in connection with changes in the body; the human soul, on the other hand, "is produced by God" (idem) and is capable of understanding "which alone is performed without a corporeal organ" (ST, First Part, Query 75, Article 3). The human soul is therefore a substance, it is a subsistent and non-corruptible form which, however, cannot have any operations, at least in this sublunary world, without a body: "We say that the soul understands, as the eye sees; but it is more correct to say that man understands through the soul" (as man sees with the eye, but the eye by itself does not see - ST, First Part, Query 75, Article 2).
"The soul is made neither of corporeal matter, nor of spiritual matter", as was demonstrated by Augustine, for "it belongs to the notion of a soul to be the form of a body" (ST, First Part, Question 75, Article 5). If the soul cannot have any operation without the body (such as apprehending "phantasms" or appearances and, through its intellective powers, developing the understanding of species and eternal substances), then this entails that our intellectual powers do not reside in the mind alone, but in the joint operation of mind and body as, for instance, Proust illustrated with his corporeal and sensitive theory of memory at the beginning of the Temps Perdu.
Therefore all our knowledge, all our intellectual faculties, all our understanding of the world and ourselves (we could say our ego or our self) does not come from some purely spiritual contemplation of eternal forms, as Plato sometimes seems to think; but from the operation of our God-given soul conjoined with our inherited body and all its experiences, which are given to us first and foremost by our parents and those close to us while we grow up, with our "roots", as Simone Weil would say. Our roots, then, are not mere accidents, but constitute part and parcel of our innermost being.
Our personhood, we could say, arises from the interaction between our (God-given, somehow similar to the divine Being) soul and our material existence, which we receive from our family, neighbors and all the inheritance of the past; from "tradition", you could say. This is a non-Cartesian way of modeling man, maybe closer to Yakut than to Modern thought.
So, to reiterate my query: does anyone know of any analytic philosophers who wrote about their use of psychedelic drugs *between 1950 and 1975*? If not, I also invite commenters to relate their experiences of being shocked by electric catfish, etc.
It's been a few decades since I read it, but Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens covers a lot of ground and has five pages of bibliography (unfortunately no index). Maybe you can find the names you're looking for in there.
Don't know if this will get to you, but in response to question 3, you should
look into Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert). Check out the podcast 'Ram Dass:
Here and Now', especially the first few in which he lays out how he went
from being a Harvard psychology professor studying psychedelics with Leary
to going to India in search of a spiritual guru. He rests in between the view-
points of Huxley and Zaehner from what I can tell, but you will see for yourself.
He talks about using STP specifically in episode 46, "And that, too".
The podcast is on Spotify as well as archived on Ram Dass's website.
Maybe the late Andre Kukla for Query 2?
The Answer to the Answer:
For Query 2, I can't help much, but I do recall you've mentioned Alasdair Macintyre previously, and, having read a grand total of one of his books (and then began conversion to Judaism afterwards like a good Homo unius libri), I think the account of Philoctetes mentioned by Macintyre in ch. 11 of "After Virtue," where Philoctetes' abandonment on an island left him less than human, a "corpse among the living" strikes me as perfectly in line with the idea of mother-soul. So while definitely Western, it is also pre-Aristotelian which I think counts for something.
Not exactly related, but after the account of Philoctetes' isolation, Macintyre contrasts this with the Christian hermit, which adds a possible twist to the idea of the mother-soul, since it seems it is the hermit's removal (or replacement) of their mother-soul that renders them Holy. If I knew more I might speculate that by removing the hermit from the temporal polis of, say Sophocles' Athens, it allows them to access the spiritual polis of Augustine's City of God, and in this way the concept of the mother-soul might have more in common with Christian thought than it seems.
'I’m interested in particular in the idea that at least one third of the soul is constituted by tradition, while the other two equal parts are constituted by what we would conceptualize as the opposed pair of “body” and “mind”. Does this happen elsewhere?'
q.v., Freud- 'Id', 'Ego', 'Superego'.
Sophia Jesus // Freedom and Anxiety: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Super-ego in the Postmodern Era. // Trends in Psychology (2023)
"In The Ego and the Id (Freud, 1923), the super-ego appears as one of the three agencies of the psyche, alongside the id and the ego in his second topography. In this work, the author speaks of the super-ego and of the ego ideal (how the self wishes to be) as if they were interchangeable. The ego-ideal consists in the process of the child setting up an ideal in himself, to be sought after, through which he measures his actual ego. Another idea that Freud traced back to the super-ego concerns the moral agency of individuals. The moral compass is forged through the exposure to the do’s and don’ts in interaction with the parents, culture and educators. This prolonged exposure culminates in the introjection of the parental agency — this introjection constitutes the primordium of the super-ego....
The concept of postmodern super-ego was coined by Slavoj Žižek (1999) to introduce the transformations that he observed in the moral behaviour of Western societies by the turn of the new millennium. Postmodernism emerged as a reaction against modernism and against the rational assumptions of the Enlightenment. According to Postmodernists, our rational and scientific values have only managed to lead mankind to wars and to an even greater state of poverty, prejudice and oppression. Postmodernism is characterised by a sceptical and nihilistic attitude towards universal notions, such as the notions of truth, reality and knowledge (Bauman, 1998). In brief, postmodernists have a tendency for self-referentiality, pluralism and irreverence...
In this social and cultural context, the Austrian-British psychoanalyst George Frankl, in Foundations of Morality (2001), identifies a series of mostly negative behaviours and attitudes that he uses to characterise the postmodern subject...
Since censoring the id is pointed out as one of the main functions of the super-ego (Freud, 1900), its absence can constitute an indicator of the disappearance or weakening of the latter. According to Frankl, this liberation is attested by the unconstrained behaviours of postmodern societies. The author entitled this phenomenon “ego mania”: a state where the id runs free. He devotes an entire chapter to the description of “the breakthrough of the repressed”, in which primitive areas of the psyche, such as aggressive, narcissistic and sexual drives, previously repressed and sublimated, now find unrestrained expression. Frankl is not the only author claiming that there has been an increase in behavioural permissiveness and an ease of obligations and restrictions after the Second World War. This idea is supported by both Lieberman and Lipovetsky in several of their works. Žižek does not strictly disagree with Frankl’s claim, he agrees that a new array of behaviours has become available and that individuals are no longer culturally required to meet traditional expectations of society. Nonetheless, he claims that individuals often still feel an inner pressure to please by conforming to those same expectations. "
J. R. Smythies, Analysis of Perception (1956) comes to mind. Not sure if he counts as an analytic philosopher though.
With respect to your preliminary conclusions about psychedelics, I recommend you include in your research Chris Bache's book, LSD and the Mind of the Universe. It is the culmination of twenty years of his research and experience. (Bache is professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University where he taught for 33 years.)
not three as in carved up , but three as in laid out:
one has responsibilities in country, to maintain the nourishing terrain, place/home/line
some countryis law/lore/meta-country
movement composes body on country
song rites people from substrates
vectors return you there
time no longer lags,
( western dreaming carries no reality of responsibility and too much history)
I call it worlding, some call me schizotypal. No drugs on me, mate.
enjoyable & thought-provoiking, as usual. can't add any analytic philosophers in that line (psychoactive chemicals) , but i do think indian philosophy (particularly Samkhya) has some things to say about samadhi (which is not exactly routine in, say, LSD trips, but what might be considered an occasional side-effect). also, for the islamic world, there's henry corbin--not easy to read, but important.
I never heard of Spinoza or Lao Tsu resorting to so much as a bowl of pipe weed. They thought their thoughts, then thought about what they thought about their thoughts, et seq. until they had chased their thinking into a corner and reduced it to its lowest common denominator and lo and behold: The Face of God, or something like. Such is my limited understanding, oh Juvenal to Our Age. I await a frosty dismissal or a blistering ridicule. Or silence. That might be the kindest option. Wishing you well.