On the Epistemological Potentials of Psychedelics. Towards a Philosophical Critique of Pharmako-Gnosis
My talk will focus on the epistemological potentials of psychedelics or on what I would like to call the question of ‘pharmako-gnosis’, borrowing a term from Dale Pendell. Psychedelics are consistently experienced as sources of gnosis and frequently seen as ‘teachers’ that convey knowledge, but knowledge of a particular nature, which seems in our culture to be a ‘forbidden knowledge’ as Pendell writes yet is also unmistakably a ‘knowledge with the power to heal’. How should we understand the nature of such pharmako-gnostic knowledge claims philosophically and might it be possible to develop something like a ‘critique of psychedelic reason’ (as Govert Derix has suggested) to evaluate such claims? Applying in particular the ideas of the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler on the originally pharmacological nature of ALL human knowledge to psychedelics understood as epistemological (as well as psycho-spiritual) tools, I will try to develop some building blocks for such a critique.
Pieter Lemmens teaches philosophy and ethics at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He has published on themes in the philosophy of technology and innovation, on the work of Martin Heidegger, Peter Sloterdijk and Bernard Stiegler and on post-autonomist Marxism. Current interests are the political potentials of new digital IC-technologies, the politics of human (cognitive) enhancement technologies, psychedelics and philosophy and philosophy of technology in the age of the anthropocene.