Naturalistic Entheogenics

Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3 (2022)
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In this précis I summarise the main ideas of my book Philosophy of Psychedelics. The book discusses philosophical issues arising from the therapeutic use of “classic” psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and LSD. The book is organised around what I call the Comforting Delusion Objection to psychedelic therapy: the concern that this novel and promising treatment relies essentially on the induction of non-naturalistic metaphysical beliefs, rendering it epistemically objectionable. I begin the précis by summarizing material from chapters two and three of the book, which review evidence for the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelics, and the facts about their clinical use that prompt the Comforting Delusion Objection. I then summarize materials from chapters four and five of the book, which argue that psychedelic therapy works neither by experience-independent processes of neuroplasticity, nor by inducing non-naturalistic metaphysical ideations, but by altering mental representations of the self. Next, I summarise the specific, speculative account of how this might work that is developed in chapters six and seven of the book. This account is based on the predictive processing theory of brain function and the self-binding theory of self-representation. Chapters eight and nine of the book argue, on the basis of this account, that psychedelic therapy can have significant epistemic and spiritual benefits that are compatible with a naturalistic worldview. I summarize this material, and then, finally, the overall conclusions about psychedelic therapy drawn in the tenth and final chapter of the book.

Author's Profile

Chris Letheby
University of Western Australia


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