I apply philosophical concepts to psychedelics in order to understand how they alter consciousness, mind, and perception, particularly of a substance called iboga/ibogaine. I earned a Master of Science degree in 2019 in Philosophy of Science, Technology & Society, writing my thesis on fear of psychedelics and suggest how users might conceptualize and operationalize modern technology to control visionary experiences and non-ordinary states, therefore reducing fears of psychedelics among other possible reasons. In addition to philosophizing about psychedelics in modern contexts, my larger aim is to develop and contribute to a phenomenology of non-ordinary (or psychedelic/intoxicated/altered) perception.
I express my ideas using a number of mediums such as blog, podcast, forthcoming journal articles and books. My interests and applications include:
PHILOSOPHY OF Psychedelics
Philosophy affords the kind of critical thinking needed to intellectualize seemingly non-rational states of consciousness. I lean more toward continental philosophy, specifically the tradition started by Edmund Husserl at the turn of the twentieth century called phenomenology. I am also very interested in non-reductionist cognitive science, particularly the young field of neurophenomenology popularized by Francisco Varela (1996). I philosophize about psychedelics (based on the texts I read during research) on my blog in a stream of consciousness format, and in forthcoming journal articles and books.
The exploration of ALL non-ordinary states should be studied (in my opinion) because they are experiences that anyone can have; they are human experiences like any other about which we can and should know more. After years of firsthand experiential research with psychedelics, I have chosen iboga (or perhaps it has chosen me) as the vehicle to explore consciousness and “Other Worlds,” as Aldous Huxley called them. Iboga is a fascinating tool with which to work and phenomenologize about the experiential structures of both sober and psychedelic states of consciousness. I discovered that I have more questions than answers, so I created the Iboganautics podcast to increase my knowledge about this substance and hopefully yours too through conversations with experts.
My attraction to philosophy of technology resulted in a master’s thesis about how humans might combine modern technology with psychedelic states of consciousness. From a technoscience post-phenomenological perspective in general (related, but not directly related to my thesis), I wonder how psychedelic-induced consciousness, perception, and Other Worlds could be mediated and thus experienced by pairing them with modern techniques and technologies, in addition to considering psychedelics as tools-in-themselves. Although I’m passionate about (the philosophy of) psychedelic technology, technology-related research concerning psychedelics are momentarily on hold until I complete several projects that demand my current attention. Check out my thesis to see what I’ve done thus far and in which directions my research will eventually head.
The thinker needs one thought only. And for the thinker the difficulty is to hold fast to this one only thought as the one and only thing that he must think.
—Martin Heidegger (1968)
The one thought I think and to which I hold fast is this: How did iboga affect my consciousness and subjective experience the way it did (and likely would for others)? So, why do I do what I do? I mean to decode the iboga experience to the best of my ability. I want to know how it allows one to see and experience that which one does, neuroscientifically of course, but more importantly, phenomenologically. Like some researchers, I began investigating psychedelics because of a profound and unexplainable experience not to mention a keen interest in philosophy of mind/perception. Hence, much of what I do is geared toward understanding consciousness and deciphering psychedelic consciousness, particularly the enigma that is iboga.
With each text that I read, each text that I write, and each conversation that I have, I get closer to answering my “one thought.” My blog, podcast, forthcoming journal articles and books are like tributaries that feed into my delta of decoding. I’ve already made progress the times I’ve taken iboga because, for lack of another way to put it, I learned how to “see.” At least two crucial approaches come to mind concerning my overall project: first, psychologist Richard Noll’s (1985) concept called mental imagery cultivation, proposed to be used by shamans, and second, the philosophical attitude/method called phenomenology that equips one to see the unseen and analyze the acts and structures of conscious experience. I mention these only briefly for you to have an idea where I’ll be going in my research. Note that iboga is one of the most potent and chemically complex psychedelics in the world and still so little is known about it. I intend to contribute philosophical perspective to the canon of iboga research and literature.
I consider iboga to be a technology-in-itself or, to borrow Ernst Cassirer’s (1930) phrase regarding his thoughts on symbols, perhaps even a “tool of the mind.” Additionally, modern technology paired with psychedelic states of consciousness, not now, but conceivably one day, may help answer my why. In the meantime, I work on drafting the cognitive maps for myself and future psychedelic/iboga researchers to assist in decoding these experiences if I do not or cannot in my lifetime. Together with technology and maps, I also wonder what iboga’s utility could be other than addiction interruption. In adapting Heidegger’s well-known hammer example, psychedelic experiences are as incomprehensible to us as a hammer is to a monkey; we are obviously dealing with something that we do not yet fully understand. I want to be there if and when such an hypothesized utility is found for iboga and/or other psychedelics. We must dare to wonder doubly big and ask impossible questions, so that we may settle for marginally possible discoveries barely beyond present comprehension.