UNCOMPROMISING POSITIONING Part II
(Ambivalence about truth and reality)
© 1997 Henry A. Flynt, Jr.
I have chosen to classify the following discussion with "Uncompromising Positioning" because it cuts across my entire methodology, spotlighting my employment of "codes of veracity" in various connections and remarking on how that relates back to the "morale of the subject or doer."
In jurisprudence, the standard example of something known without a shadow of a doubt is 2 + 2 = 4. The whole point of my methods is to dislodge this absolute; cf. the recent "Proof that 1 = 2." The stated aim of meta-technology is defined as a dislocation of the prevailing determination of reality (including relocation to other determinations of reality which if anything will be more compelling then the prevailing one is). One essay is called "Philosophical Aspects of Walking Through Walls." The rhetoric was carelessly theatrical; but the implied promise is one I meant, and mean, to deliver on.
It does not make sense to call the aim of a new intellectual modality truth or reality. In addition, when the luxury of the uncompromised format is available, then the modality does not rest on truth: "belief is involved only as apparition." (We may take as a primitive definition of "a truth" "an assertion which conveys reality.")
In one investigation, I codify common sense as a doctrine in order to show that it is saturated with inconsistency. Then, if one commits to common sense as "reality," by Tarskis 1944 dictum on the relation between inconsistency and falsehood, common sense cannot be "truth." The more fanatically you affiliate with reality, the more flagrantly you lie.
In no way are these stances of mine mistakes or bluster.
Cognitive nihilism is extreme. To it, any assertion is as bad as any other. There is no difference between "E=mc2" and "I am Napoleon." You corrupt or hog-tie yourself by espousing any assertion. In arriving at that insight you accede to a condition so extreme that it is incomparable to acquiring a "cognitive orientation" in the anthropologists sense. If I may make one of these trivially self-defeating popularizations of my own insight:
Assertional thought is deception.
To radical empiricism, I have no thematic identity, nor am I on the way to one. The cognitive nihilist cannot lie to himself about his thematic identity because he asserts no thematic identity. The notion that I have an enduring nature which is often latent and not manifest is utterly unacceptable to radical empiricism.
What of lying? The cognitive nihilist cannot morally condemn lying, because moral condemnation does not come into it. The cognitive nihilist does not credit assertions and is not an intellectual patsy.
Oneself, or "it" (a text), exposes self-deception, annuls truth-polarity. One escapes the mirage of truth-polarity. To deprive one of ones former self-deception. Carrying the endeavor through requires a vantage-point which can identify self-deception as such. Only from such a vantage-point is the endeavor or purpose conceived.
If other people impose lies on me, they palpably abuse me. If I lie, e.g. to myself (introspectively recoverable self-deception), I corrupt and hog-tie myself. All the same, self-deception may be by far the more comfortable route.
If I emerge from the lie, I do not emerge to a crystallized identity and a secure place (and an affirmative dogma), but to an unlabelled field (let us say).
As I said, meta-technology, which may offer its results in the format of knowledges, does not want to declare those "knowledges" to be truths or realities.
And yet I wield various codes of truthfulness and psychic non-deformationwithout calling them that. It was explicit, for example, in the "Meta-Technology Aptitude Test" of December 1980. The meta-technologist is out to destroy truth and reality, but at the same time has standards which could be called truth and reality.
There has to be
A vantage-point which can identify self-deception as such.
Personally asserted norms.
A crystallized and disciplined self.
Recently it has begun to seem important to pull out the codes of truth and reality scattered through my work, and ponder what their import is.
What does it mean to safeguard the forthright or faithful assertions demanded by the meta-technological investigationswhen assertional thought is deception? What does it mean to report an episode accurately as opposed to inaccurately? The answer gets to the core of the meta-technological hypocracy.
The meta-technological endeavor springs from a willful consciousness which seizes compelling belief-systems and manipulates them. I invade the intersubjective arena. When I entertain the social myth in order to metamorphose it, I select the myth precisely on the basis that it is compellingas was explained at length in "Meta-Technology" (1993). One assails the logic of consistency; one does not trouble oneself over astrology.
The initial answer, then, is this. As principled hypocrites, we begin by assenting to the cultures language, and code of veracityactively upgrading it via arguable improvements. At the same time, the project necessarily exposes flaws in the cultures code of veracity. So far from an abrupt acceptance, or rejection, of the prevailing code of veracity, there is an intricate retouching of the reportorial medium. See the appendices to this study, taken from "The Psychedelic State." Also understand that my logic of contradictions profoundly retouches the reportorial medium regarding perceptions, world-states, and the tenets of common sense, wanting the medium to be conceived as biased inconsistent.
I. A project unfolds in the perspective of the diminution of credulity. The project is committed to satisfying the norms of rationality, empiricism, and cognitive parsimony at least as well as natural science does. These norms are mandated because results are wanted which can outcompete and overmaster existing civilization. The new knowledge is beyond the frontiers of the scientific culture; yet is binding, in principle, on the (scientifically educated) audience.
I dont pretend that this "new knowledge" is cognitively absolute. It is at the level of relative plausibilities. It is at the level of imputation of contexts of objectivity in experience (the very habit which the exploration of radical unbelief seeks to dissolve).
Multiple projects, then, proceeding in non-compatible directions, are possible. So there are multiple directions of departure from scientific reality, each relatively compelling. A profound, even "impossible" non-uniqueness of "reality" is evinced. reality is inappropriate as a slogan: because we show that the commitment to rationality, empiricism, and cognitive parsimony shatters reality.
II. Brainwashing, alteration of consciousness by brutalization and abuse, is unacceptable. I rule out brutalization as a means of psychological modificationthat is, as a means of inducing hallucinations, of inducing forfeiture of responsibility, of inducing stupid credulity, etc.
III. It is forbidden to hide or destroy evidence. That is the way I frame my opposition to reductionism. (For example, I found that in an intellectual showdown, "science men" deny that they remember dreams and deny that they experience standard perceptual illusions.)
IV. If a study ascribes bad faith or self-deception to a self, the self-deception must be discernable to self-observation. (Introspectively recoverable.) The notion that I have an enduring nature which is often latent and not manifest is rejecteduntil I descend to the psychology.
V. Candid identification of perceptions.
Issues which require rethinking the reportorial medium. The admission that there are perceptions which require inconsistent labels.
When we report perceptions, we do so with a language of hypostases and hypostatizing compartmentation. If I report a perception by saying "I see a chair," does this mean a visual-chair-apparition, or are there inherent implications of an impenetrable, ponderable chair which endures (even for years), etc.? If the latter, then: could this language appropriately report seeing a chair in a dream?
Out-of-compartment perceptions evoke unauthorized improvisations: the room is swimming; the air is twinkling.
Still discussing the available vocabulary of candor, established diagnostic descriptions of experiences are employed as mere appellations in the rigorous modalities. (As when I use the psychologists phrase "hypnagogic hallucination"I dont want the reality-judgment which it carries.)
VI. Faithful portrayal of world-states.
Our projects need the evidence of particular dreams. They need the evidence of specific experiences which illuminate certain configurations of the person-world. Thus we commit to the portrayal of experienced episodes, world-states.
If one persons anomalous experience is not specifically replicable, but occurs in a modality which is potentially accessible to others (such as dreaming), then I accept the report of that experience. But further requirements must be satisfied.
i. Objective consequentiality must not be claimed for the experience.
ii. The experience must be described as far as possible in language faithful to the apparition, not language burdened with traditional and stereotyped objectifications.
iii. The experience must not be surrounded with hyperbole derived from some tradition of occultism. That is, the experience must not be inflated in fantasy by claims of objective consequentiality derived from some occult tradition.
iv. Parenthetically, a researcher has the option of testing the consistency of a subjects report of an experience by conventional debriefing techniques.
With respect to reports of private experience, most people, having an out-of-compartment experience in a social milieu of mandatory hyperbole and aggrandizement, will use language corruptly, and carelessly give an aggrandized report of their perceptions. It is necessary in my psychology to insist that the descriptions are aggrandized. But equally, I insist that something unusual did happen.
There are many points in the reports at which I speculate that subjects carelessly aggrandize unusual private perceptions in the act of interpreting and codifying them verbally. They construe their experiences in delusive, reckless ways. Critical training would lead them to interpret and verbalize a given sensation differently. As an example, under continued questioning, one of my informants retreated from wildly hyperbolic reports to reports in which the modes of the apparitions were far more understandable.
People have no training, and no motivation, to use language up to the limit of its potential for literalness. And, again, they have no training in recognizing imputed contexts of objectivity.
A psychedelic episode may involve intermediate-zone perceptions which natural language does not provide for, and which have to be described via verbal improvisations. But granting that, natural language has a potential for restraint, for modal attribution, and even for literalness, far beyond what the psychedelic experimenters learned to use. More detail on cross-examination of reports of private experiences is contained in an appendix taken from "The Psychedelic State."
There is an even more advanced issue. When a subject reports a life-episode in detail, the discourse will be found to embody a tacit philosophical anthropology (to use the quaint, pedantic term). That is, the reportorial medium rests on assumptions about how "minds" are emplaced in the "corporeal world," how minds communicate, how lived experience is graded, how the persistence of my self is assured. The subject's interpretation of his or her experience cannot be more lucid than the assumptions of this sort which the subject's deposition embodies or expresses. More on the implicit philosophical anthropology is contained in an appendix taken from "The Psychedelic State."
As I said, meta-technology and astute hypocracy need the evidence of specific private experiences. My formulations casually assumed a public which wouldnt want to foster occult delusions or fabricate evidence.
If my work were to become a public footballsomething which will not happen in my lifetimethen the audience will consist of others besides well-meaning researchers. Reports of private experience will be bandied by a nondescript public. Deluded understandings of private experience linked to occultism will come knocking at the door. Fabricated evidence, untrustworthy reports, will come knocking at the door. Then I need norms or safeguards which resemble, but go beyond, cross-examination and interrogation. By this point it is clear that I am not only wielding a code of veracity, but am prepared to wield it combatively. See the already-mentioned appendix taken from "The Psychedelic State."
At the same time, as I will explain momentarily, the purpose of my psychology is to increase the subject's self-understanding. The motive for honesty in verbalizing one's experience must be that one who is dishonest cheats oneself. Only the introspective vantage-point is authentic.
Psychedelic experience manifests, in the waking state, what we already know from dreams. Each person sees a different and scientifically unordered world. So this evidence undercuts the principle of objects which subsist independently in interpersonally shared observation fields. What we approach here is an operative exhibition that the proof of the existence of the common objective world is a vicious circle. The code of veracity is retouched and shifted by the discovered results.
VII. Given that a direction of accuracy has been identified or determined, why strive for accuracy?
Dreams and imagery of drowsiness are to be written down accurately for ones own use. Why?because the star of my show is myselfnot the conscious fictions I can produce. My dreams continually present me with what I would not have made up; and that is what I want to know about. The episodes which comprise my longitudinal identity are evidence. If I eclipse this evidence with conscious fictions, then pieces of myself are irrevocably erased. I am honest because this partially unknown territory which is me is valuable to me. If I were to fabricate my dreams, I would pronounce my self to be worthless, and would have annihilated myself in a certain sense. If I am content with an invention, then my self was of no use.
The person who falsely reports their dreams pronounces themself to be worthless, wants to trash themself. If you falsify your dreams in a journal, it means that the evidence which comprises yourself fills you with such shame that you have to invent a persona for yourself to prop your esteem up. I have the same reaction to this that a medical pathologist would. We need to know the worst. Fiction never improves on the truth.
Veracity, winning myself, and acute self-interpretation. Safeguarding this partially unknown territory which is mebecause I treasure myself.
Relation of truth and reality to self-interpretation and freedom
I have long-term endeavors which require me to make realistic judgments of an everyday or common-sense sort. When my long-term endeavors are concerned, I cannot accept promises as fulfillment. In that sense, for example, I commit to realism.
Here we have another motivation for the person-world premise. It can acknowledge that my aspirations are situated in everyday life, without absolutizing the latter, recognizing that there is a circular influence in which my accomplishment of my purposes will shift or rotate so-called factual reality.
?When I use the shorthand "reality" here, I mean the arena of ordinary personhood. The invariants of the interpersonal world are honored [indulged/humored] as reality. As for my aspirations, they involve the insertion of my extraordinary purposes in the common-sense arena. My aspirations are eventually to shift the common-sense arena. "A truth" is now "an assertion which conveys an invariant of the interpersonal world." "The Empire State Building in in New York City" is a truth; to declare that "The Empire State Building is not in New York City" is a deception.
As soon as one addresses the person-world, and so agrees that I am necessarily on my way and must win myself or fail to do so:
It makes a tremendous difference if people have a loyalty on whose behalf they have to lie to me and [sell me distorted interpretations]. All of their so-called views and ideas are warped around a loyalty which they hide. Not only because they are ashamed; because they do not want to be made to give that loyalty up. Hidden non-intellectual baggage comes to light which overwhelmingly conditions the intellectual postures people assume.
The natural fact of maturation establishes a predictable evolution of personal understanding. The infant has the advantage of
being able to encounter something for the first time, when its significance has not been pre-specified, so that it can draw on its own inspiration
while having the disadvantage of
helplessness, of being shunted from one situation to another, in which it is defenselessly molded by a group.
Thus, in later years, you may well need to disabuse yourself, to settle accounts with what happened, to arrive at an acute self-understanding.
Temporality, ongoingness, ones cathexis of the yet-to-be is inextricably joined with the prospect of an increased self-understanding. (And this endeavor has what-went-before as its body of evidence.) There also has to be the consideration of possibility, not just "the" future. That is why the work of integrating the logic of possibility with futurity and realized choice is so important.
Somehow, truth-issues and reality-issues are profoundly related to personal freedom and to lucid self-interpretation or self-understanding. Self-interpretation is as much a part of "being on my way" as is winning myself (doing what I ought to be doing).
The word freedom is used here. Not being the captive of an urge which deprives you of the ability to judge your own qualities. Being able to declare your own priorities, as opposed to denying them and having them spewed in the open when you fall apart.
A person may be the captive of a base appetite which requires more and more of the interpersonal transactions called lying and stealing. Such a person is said not to be free. As well, such a person risks losing the ability to judge his or her own qualities. He or she loses the power of discrimination.
To add to what I said about self-interpretation. In the "cultural collective," I asked us to take ourselves as our subjects or patients, and divulge everything to each other. Your life consists of a lot of undigested experience, of episodes in which you were herded from one place to another unfreely. Not only are you necessarily on your way, not only do you have to win yourself or fail to do so, you also have to come to a credible self-interpretation. There is a relation between freedom and credible self-interpretation, an aim not to be the plaything of blind forces as you may have been many times. The futureas opportunity for more piercing self-interpretationis indispensable. And we learn: I have interpreted my own realized choices ("behavior") foolishly, and conjointly with that, have held deleterious life-attitudes.
(A "life-attitude" is high in the judgmental hierarchy of the person-world.)
By this point, we have to entertain the notions that the individual has mentation inaccessible to him or her, and a nature which is latent most of the time and has to be triggered by a situation. One has a nature one is not always mindful of; it has to be triggered by a setting. An enduring nature which is often latent and not manifest.
So we find the "will to veracity" to be inseparable from "integrity as a condition of morale." A kind of respect for yourself; intellectual courage; emotional sensitization, emotional dimension; certain faculties (which are stifled in contemporary culture). (This corresponds to the forthright person who possesses "inspiration," and whose identity is set or consistent.)
The risk of losing ones capacity for discrimination and discernment
In a classical world, in which syntactically correct assertions are binary decidable, truths and lies are not on the same plane. Truths do not need to pretend to be lies, but lies need to pretend to be truths. Integrity does not need to pretend to be corruption, but corruption needs to pretend to be integrity. A lie does not have an independent value; its value consists in claiming the value of truth. If the false assertion is understood as false, it cant even serve its non-cognitive purpose. The application of a falsehood consists in deception.
Thus, in the classical world of binary decidable assertions, truth proves to be a required value for a culture of lying, and the bad fortune which follows from trusting a lie can be severe.
If you embrace a lie, or proselytize for a lie, then you embrace the modality of assertion. To hold, believe, espouse, endorse something embraces the modality of assertion; it turns toward the truth. The liar seeks to inflict a real injury on another person by getting them to accept an error as truth. Again and again, it re-installs the authority of truth. If you espouse a proposition while believing it to be false, embracing it as fantasy, that installs truth-polarity. Lowered standards and corruption are not contributions to epistemology. They are object-lessons in the truths authority. A flying saucer cult (as an example of a venture in perpetrating deceit) comprises an object-lesson in the authority of truth in the arena of truth-polarity.
When a person publicly complies with what they privately deplore, in full knowledge that they are doing so, the vernacular has it that they are slaves.
There are certain psychic capacities which all people ought to have, according to the militant philosophers of freedom. A degree of élan. Access to oneself as an ensemble of evidence. A vantage-point which can identify self-deception as such. Independent wants. The capacity to understand and assert norms. The capacity for discipline. The capacity for thought. Discrimination, discernment. Not to have these capacities puts you at an appalling disadvantage in the community, and makes you an appalling disadvantage to the community. (Unless the community wishes to be a crude tyranny.And the militant philosophers of freedom would say that to wish for a crude tyranny is necessarily an aberration.) When people place themselves in a situation which deprives them of these capacities, the vernacular has it that they are subhuman.
Crass self-deception (what common sense calls dishonesty) erodes:
Access to the self, or conservation of the self, insofar as the self comprises evidence.
A self-judgment or self-interpretation which is astute and has the prospect of becoming more so.
When anyone throws him- or herself into denial and lives it for an extended period of time, he or she can no longer tell when he or she is denying. When they lie to themself, they erode their capacity for discrimination and discernment. They cannot identify their purposes in [conscious] realized choice. They cannot distinguish qualities in their own comportment. Its all sludge. Æ
Homeless people actually undergo the demoralization which Postmodernism calls for so it is said. After three weeks on the street, demoralization gets in the self; there is no turning back.
If somebody imposes a lie on me, it is an insult to my sentience. If I dont recognize that insult, at least privately, then something has deprived me of the power of discrimination, has brutalized me into numbness. A person could lose the power to discern self-deception introspectively. Common-sensically, we say that brutalization has robbed someone of their humanity.
I dont have a method for appraising such a case from within the person-world, because the stunted individual cannot be their own physician, and presumably can never recover.
In speaking of the erosion of judgment, I need to distinguish philosophical appraisal from empirical psychology. Empirical psychology finds a checkerboard landscape. Heroin and homelessness are not necessarily terminal; there are many axes and degrees of "character disorder." (The working-class intellectuals inferiority complex and envy; a serial killer.)
One may ask, how many rotten floors do you fall through if you rebuff all the illusions? The cognitive nihilist eschews being a dupe, awakens or gets awakened from (theres no difference) deception. He subsequently manipulates the mirage without being engulfed or submitting.
The cognitive nihilist does not buy into a scam which will crumble for him. He deploys a reconfigured mirage which remains utterly compelling at the level to which it is aimed.
When I started, I did not need a moral condemnation of self-deception. I wanted to meet people for whom it is not debatable whether deception and debasement are desirable. I was prepared to write off the many and to rejoice with the few. Unfortunately, this "few" never arrived.
My texts are mnemonics for my journey. My extreme texts articulate a process of thought which I cannot claim "everybody can trace." When we come to those who cannot think abstractly, or who have been brutalized into stupefaction, I cannot claim to offer them a path. Some would be too corrupt, would have been brutalized until they had no discernment. The person whom demoralization has disabled. A creature for whom "judgment" is all sludge. Æ
If I have sentient powers which you do not have, you and I cannot debate that. You and I cannot debate whether thought or discernment is desirable if you dont have the capacity for it. Somebody who has lost discernment via addictionor intellectual demoralizationcannot take my pathmuch less debate its merit with me.
For the cognitive nihilist, trying to get in the head of a brutalized human (to discover how he or she makes decisions) is utterly improbable.
When absence of denial or deception is called truth or reality, it leads to certain tendentious modes of expression.
One phrasing of condemnation of scientific reality is to say: it is not reality. It papers over reality with what we have learned to call a thingifying reductionism. It cheats us of our most precious possibility by substituting a certain mirage for it. For that reason, we should feel abused by it and hate it. This formulation then labels as reality the precious possibility which does not have the contours of thingifying reductionism.
What is some of the evidence which my approach does not hide? Well, there is so much of itbut let us consider certain "phases" which are not thinkings product.
The life-tone of relish, élan (a life-tone of non-grief, non-constriction).
The vantage-point which can identify self-deception as such.
The sporadic experiences of elevated being [gerund].
Personally asserted norms.
A crystallized and disciplined self.)
A certain perspective might call these "phases" reality.
Its not reality in a classical sense because it is subjective and transitory. There is no claim that it is eternal.
This allows us to explicate certain traditional philosophical statements. Otherwise, its just semantics.
Appendix 1. Experience-World versus Person-World
An/the experience-world. Studies dedicated to experience-worlds. "Dreams and Reality" (1974); the "energy cube organism" as translated in "Choice Chronology" (1981 - 1995); waking phases of the geniuses liberation collective (1975); the perspective of "Superseding the Life-WorldA Heuristic Discussion" (1977).
I am in a "world" and I have a "self" with a "place" and a "mission." The world is furnished with ostensible objects and occupied by other people. Frequently in my dreams I am a struggling student at a university. The steps and halls and rooms are palpable. People mill about me, speaking English. Dreams about the building where I live. People enter with purposes unwelcome to me.
Any life-episode "has" a world-gestalt, a field including myself and ostensible objects. This typically applies to experience-worlds which are dreams.
For "Choice Chronology," the world-gestalt is so abnormal that one hesitates to call it a world-gestalt.
Some, not all, dreams?: Im drifting in a situation beyond my control and I cant get out (temporarily). But my ability not to [paint it over] with mythology remains intact.
In some episodes?: Personal identity is fragmentary and the subject is drifting. (It is a hapless aestheticism.)
An experience-world, or account of it, doesnt uphold these constituents of personhood.
the centered insight and intent, the longitudinal personal identity; the career of awareness [central focus of identity]
the thematic identity [the sustained personal mission]
sorting experience into personhood grading life-episodes and perceptions
1) When a dream, say, is remembered in the person-world, it is all on one plane as a mirage.
2) From within the experience-world, I dont apply hierarchical realism-judgments to my personal memories, my episodes. I do not make distinctions of apperceptive cogency.
Such are divergences between my 1974-77 perspective and personhood theory. 1981: The meta-technologist would not have the personhood posited by common sense.
Appendix 2. Seven junctures of warranted criticism of another person's report of a private experience.
1. In a lengthy interview, does the subject change his or her story as he or she talks? Does the subject use a word which, from context, obviously does not mean what the subject thinks?
The test of consistency can be devastatingly powerful, especially if the subject is interviewed at separated times without being told that his or her consistency is under review.
2. When the researcher's knowledge gives reason to suspect hyperbole, does careful questioning induce the subject to retreat from the wildest claims? (Or does an external test of performance belie a wild claim?)
A subject might lie unintentionally because of lack of the detachment to judge a delusion as such. That is the only way I could understand a claim to have held a conversation with an insect or a cabbage, for exampleif it was not a deliberate and detectable lie.
The more frequent application of this test concerns the subject who claims a miraculous increase in perceptual powers, such as seeing clock hands stand still, or seeing whirling tape reels in slow motion, or seeing individual molecules of objects, or seeing through another person's flesh. (And yet I had some sort of increase in sensitivity when I saw steam rising from lukewarm liquid as if the room were freezing.)
3. Granted that everybody has to resort to linguistic improvisations to describe certain private experiencesand that many literal words in natural language began as metaphorsa deposition is flawed whenever it uses a metaphor which can only be a red herring. One of my informants, attempting to define normal consciousness, wrote: "The Self passes through Time as a boat cleaves water." There is no way to clarify this metaphor, except by discarding it.
4. When modally ascriptive terms such as hallucination and synesthesia become crucial, their use has to be validated. hallucination means an apparition falsely thought to be a real objectnot a daydream. synesthesia means the eclipse of a primary sensation by a sensation in a different modalitynot the accompaniment of a primary sensation by a sensation in a different modality. Strictly, seeing images while hearing music is not synesthesia.
5. It is an error to describe perceptual quality, sensuous experience, in terms of hypothecated unexperienceable entities. Usually, when subjects do that, they are preening themselves on how learned they are. But when they claim e.g. to see a neutrino, they display not scientific knowledgeability, but scientific ignorance. A claim to see cascades of neutrinos, scientific-sounding though it is, discredits someone's pose of speaking in scientific terms. The same applies to unexperienceables which are not drawn from hard sciencee.g. the claim to observe one's "id."
6. Imputation of contexts of objectivity. When you look at a beachball, what you sense at any moment is a hemispherical surfacebut you recognize and report it as a "beachball," a three-dimensional air-filled shell. Seeing the facade of a house, you infer and report a complete house. In other words, you complete the object in imagination on the basis of prior indoctrination. When one casually approaches an anomalous situation on this basisas opposed to confining reports to apparitionsthe result is uncontrolled superstition. When I saw the air twinkle, for example, it would have been unwarranted to conclude that shiny flecks of matter had appeared in the airand to follow that with an inference that they could be breathed or swallowed.
7. One of my informants reported an acid experience which was as near supernatural as makes no difference. He said that it was the most important experience of his life. Yet upon "coming down," he went on to live a banal and acquiescent life (relative to being an upper bohemian). When I asked him how he could (metaphorically) see God and then be content to be a tie salesman, he invoked Zen as establishing that everything is the same and nothing matters.
If Zen really said that, then I wouldn't think much of Zen. But that's not the point here. Indeed, my informant continued to prioritize his life according to the norms of upper bohemia. The point is that if you tell me you became God, and then celebrated by going to McDonald's, or chose to live as a tie salesman, I judge that you are lying about being Godaccording to my understanding of the boundaries of meaning which words impose. There is an immense discrepancy here regarding the "shared" language's embedding in individual personhood. My informant, indeed, continued to insist that seeing, or being, God need not cause you to break away from a stupid life. One of the greatest services of psychedelic drugs is to throw such divergences regarding meaning into sharp relief.
Appendix 3. The Implicit Philosophical Anthropology
The task is to report states which are private experiences. I mention these states generically, but there is a great distinction in conventional thought between a psychedelic episode and a dream. A psychedelic trip occurs in the waking state, and it is a variation on the enduring waking self and the accoutrements of "the" world. A dream may seem utterly real as it occurs, but upon waking, conventional thought does not claim that any part whatever of the dream-world is actual. The dream's protagonist may have an entirely different persona from my waking self, even though I remember it as "me" upon awaking. (There is the paradoxical question of how the dreamed ego and its speech can be "real," given that the "world" they unfold in is not.) One may analyze how we know "time" in terms of organization of memory, etc. See A.9 and B.3 below. These structures are quite vivid in dreams. Yet we judge the "time" thus cognized to be pure illusion.
The subject's implicit philosophical anthropology will imply framing questions. The subject will probably resist raising those questions, and will not have answers for them. The reason that I list the questions here is not to demand that we give them yes or no answers. It is to show how burdened the subject's testimony is.
A.1. Do I and other people have minds? What is the location of minds in reality? Physically inside bodies? See A.8 below.
A.2. Are minds mere illusions in material reality? In that case, how can phenomena confined to a single mind be a topic of knowledge?
A.3. Is reality comprised by the multiplicity of mindsso that their shared observation-field engenders the material world?
A.4. What is the significance of deep unconsciousness for the way a mind endures in reality? Does the mind have a continuous identity which jump-cuts?
A.5. Can consciousness be defined in terms of things?i.e. a definition in terms of neural circuits?
A.6. How is it that I can acquire truths about other people's minds by looking into my own mind? Is it because all minds are structurally the same? More advanced: If one has a conception of persons as objectivities, from what vantage-point does one posit this conception? (Surely not from a first-person vantage-point, because that is subjective.)
A.7. What is the structure of subjective existence?is it "my mind counterposed to world"? If so, is this "world" a subjective world of my observing, or is it supposed to be "the" (autonomous) world?
A.8. If the structure of my existence is indeed "mind counterposed to world," where does my body ("the somatic") fit in this dichotomy? Is a sore foot mind or world?
A.9. If there is supposed to be such a thing as time passing faster or slower, how is time's rate constituted experientially?
A.10. How is my mental life divided? Into consciousness and self-consciousness?
The preceding questions can be challenged by making an issue of dreams and private experienceas I began to do in an earlier paragraph. A probing treatment will not simply accept common sense, but will ask the informant to explicitly define the comparative reality-types of
(i) the world of my waking life;
(ii) the worlds of my dreams.
B.1. If waking and dreaming are held to have the same reality-type, does that mean that no event I observe or experience in waking life is consequential for another person? (What would that say for an action which begins in a dream and is carried on as I awaken?)
B.2. The other side: Are the events I observe or experience in my dreams consequential for other people, as those in my waking life are?
B.3. In the psychedelic state, is the entire episode "hermetic," as a dream is? Or can you clearly distinguish anomalous imagery, or hallucinations, superimposed on a continuation of alert waking life? (In the psychedelic state, when you go out onto the street, does the street objectively exist for other people?)
B.4. If a dream has a lesser reality than waking life, what is the source of its script?
B.5. If anomalies in the psychedelic state are "hallucinations" like dreams, what is the source of their script?
B.6. Is the protagonist in my dreams objectively a continuation of my self? Is my self an invariant under hallucination?
B.7. If a dream is a private hallucination, how can my use of my native language therein be objectively meaningful? Is language an invariant under hallucination?
B.8. When courses of events loom in a dream, but do not realize, are the courses of events possible in a substantive sense?
Beyond even these questions, a report of a trip implicitly poses such questions as:
C.1. How do I know day after day, year after year, that I am still I?
C.2. Which of the following portions of my mental life is the most reliable embodiment of my self's continuity?
- perceiving and thinking
- episodic memory
C.3. Is my experience of time in fact an experience of a pattern of memory (and anticipation)? If so, state the construction of time's flow from memory.