Acid and Philosophy

After an experience of an LSD trip, some people experience what they call ego transcendence. Of course it’s impossible to really compare such a subjective and profund experience, but I believe I encountered this on my own acid trip.

I’d describe it as an elevation above my mental frameworks of the world. It was an interesting place to sit, observing my own concept of myself from the branch of a tree, understanding my self from an external perspective. It’s important to state this wasn’t an out of body experience, where I was physically outside of myself. I was just able to view my beliefs about who and what I was from another perspective, like looking at the blueprints of a house. Imagine holding up a marble and seeing your whole life within it. However, this position is of course unsustainable. One cannot live up there for very long, and it can only be a place of analysis from which to impartially observe one’s own mind without becoming caught up in it — a meta self. It is of course false as well, because this meta-self, supposedly external, has it’s own set of structures and paradigms that it uses to interpret what it sees.

I think this is the reason why for all the study of philosophy, it fails to change people’s behaviour in any meaningful way, despite the profound changes in thought it produces. Philosophy attempts to do the same thing. Adapt structures from above, as paradigms, without changing the view of these structures as they’re lived. They’re the same structures, just different views. One is fun to play with, like toy soldiers on a tabletop battlefield, but the other is the way we guide our actions and emotions. It’s a safe vantage point, having that understanding from on high, and it can be scary to submit oneself to a restricted view where you might find yourself boxed in the maze, with no understanding of what lies beyond.

Eventually you’ll have to live in that maze, when you sober up or put down the book or stop staring at the sky and buy eggs or insert the key in the ignition. It’s those moments when we’re surrounded by and affected by our paradigm that we need to change. And that requires pushing the walls until they fall down, looking outwards, rather than rearranging from above, which will only ever serve the purpose of an interesting curiosity. Something in the attic to taken out and played with.



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