Psychedelics and the hard problem of consciousness

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Usual warnings apply

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Psychedelics and the hard problem of consciousness

Jussi Jylkkä | Philosopher and psychologist with a PhD in both, working as a researcher at the Åbo Akademi University, Finland.


Quote:How the psychedelic experience can shed light on the mind-body problem

Quote:The map is not the territory. The modelled brain is not consciousness. ‘This’ – the ineffable quality of subjective experience – is consciousness. No scientific description can ever reach it. The psychedelic experience allows us to get behind our models, and provides us with a special, unitary knowledge of consciousness; shedding new light on the infamous hard problem, writes Jussi Jylkkä.

Quote:How do we know matter and mind? Matter is known through observations and theories. I call such knowledge relational, because it is distinct from what it is about: the atomic model is about that something that we call “atom”; our observations of quantum interference are produced by that something that we model as “quarks”. As to what matter is outside my consciousness, I cannot know, since knowing is in consciousness. My own consciousness, in turn, I know simply through being it, through being this. I call such knowledge unitary. It is not “about” anything, nor is it “possessed” by anyone—it is simply the process that happens here and now. This is demonstrated by unitary experiences that can be produced by meditation, or more easily, through psychedelics.

Quote:Idealism, panpsychism, materialism…?

The hard problem is more than just the epistemic gap, it is also the question of why brain processes feel like anything in the first place. The hard problem is essentially a problem for physicalism, which holds that consciousness is physical: how can the physical be experiential, given that science gives us no clue about this? Through psychedelic experience, it is possible to see how this is reality, and how science merely gives models about reality. Thus, psychedelic experience demonstrates not only the absoluteness of this, but also the relativity of scientific images. It reveals a mystery: what is the physical in itself beyond our physical models of it as “quarks”, “energy”, of “fields”? The only access I have to reality in itself is this: this is what science models as “physical”. If ontological monism is true and everything is made of one single kind of substance, then everything is of the same kind as this. This is true even according to standard physicalism: if consciousness is a neural process, then consciousness is made of quarks—in other words, whatever quarks are, they are the constituents of consciousness. [3] You can call this “idealism” or “panpsychism” or “materialism”, but all these are merely words. This is real, and psychedelic experience shows what this is.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2021-09-11, 01:00 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Usual warnings apply

Metaphysics and mushrooms: Psychedelics can change how you think about the universe

Scotty Hendricks

Quote:Research shows that psilocybin leads people away from materialism and toward transcendentalism. Apparently, mushrooms teach metaphysics.

Quote:These beliefs are often associated with certain behaviors as well, with dualists taking less care of their bodies than physicalists, who argue that the mind is part of the body. Similar relationships between metaphysical beliefs and human behavior can be found elsewhere. Those who believe in free will are less likely to lie, cheat, and be aggressive.

Quote:In an email to BigThink, Dr. Timmermann summarized the findings by explaining:

“…[t]hat we provide evidence for the first time that psychedelics shift beliefs concerning the nature of reality. These beliefs are central to the way human beings organize society and may correspond to deeply rooted worldviews. Specifically, we found that people rejected the notion of physicalism (the idea that the world is made up of material, as opposed to mental or spiritual things) after a single psychedelic experience, endorsed the notion of fate more, and also the idea that all things in the universe are conscious, what we call panpsychism. Importantly, we found that these changes were related to improvements in mental health.”

The authors note that it is beyond the scope of the paper to draw any conclusions regarding which metaphysical system is best for mental health. They do speculate that very stringent beliefs of any kind about metaphysics are unhealthy. Finally, the authors advise that future studies involving psychedelics warn participants that their worldviews may be altered by their participation. Caveat emptor: Acid might change your perspective on panpsychism.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Typoz, Brian
It amused me that they had to add that dualists supposedly are less healthy than physicalists as a caveat before noting the conclusions that shifting away from physicalism is better for one's mental health.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 3 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Typoz, Brian, Valmar
Awesome thread Sciborg!  I give myself headaches nearly everyday pondering this kind of stuff.
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(2021-09-11, 01:00 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Usual warnings apply

Thou Shall Deceive Yourself: On cognitive hallucinations and mind's prime directive

Kastrup

Quote:I have often come across people who developed intricate metaphysical views after returning from rich trance states, be them induced by psychedelics, intense prayer or other meditative techniques. They regard their experiences in those states as revelations of 'The Truth' that underlies the illusion they then consider our ordinary lives to be. Complex mythologies emerge, involving demiurges, aliens from the Pleiades, transcendent entities with intense interest in humanity and intricate plans for our future, invisible backstage activity that allegedly maintains the veneer of the physical world, and so on.

Quote:Another few days go by and I have a third dream, during which I remembered the first and second dreams, as well as the fact that the first and second dreams had been just... well, dreams. And so I wondered, "Could it be just another dream now as well? No, this time it is real. The very fact that I remember the previous dreams as dreams proves that I am lucidly awake right now..." And so on. You get the picture. This happened no less than five times during a period of perhaps two weeks. Each time I remembered all the previous ones, and knew that they had been just dreams. Yet, each time I convinced myself anew, without a shadow of a doubt, that that time it wasn't a dream; that that time it was for real.

Quote:And this, I think, is the take-home message from hyper-real trance states: that we so strongly believe them to be literally real during the trance—whereas we know, afterwards, that they couldn't have been so—tells us something crucial about our impression, right now, that our ordinary lives are literally what they seem to be. If mind can conjure up that kind of robust certainty during a purely mental event—even when explicitly and repeatedly confronted with sceptical questions about the reality of the event—how can we be sure that it isn't doing precisely the same right now? If it is, then this ordinary reality, too, is mind-made; this, too, is real in the same sense that my glorious return to Rio was real five times: it is mentally real, and that's all there is to it and anything else.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Typoz
Some interesting ideas there. In the past I've sometimes had dreams during which I've encountered a deceased family member. Those particular dreams have been some of the most real (realer-than-real) types of experience. They certainly stand out from other dreams where that same family member has appeared, but the dream was muddled and confused.

In a way the only difference between a dream which seams real, and this reality is that we seem to consistently wake up in this same world, this same life. It is the repetitive nature which distinguishes it. Yet even that may not be so. I've sometimes woken from a dream and found myself awake inside another dream. A dream within a dream, both of which seemed real. Perhaps in this current life we simply haven't woken yet.

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