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How the Drug War limits our understanding of Immanuel Kant

an open letter to Dr. V.A. Gijsbers of Leiden University

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




March 6, 2024

ello, Doctor Gijsbers and greetings from Virginia, USA.

Thanks for the excellent videos on Immanuel Kant and his Critique of Pure Reason1. They are helping me finally begin to understand this book, which I only dimly comprehended (if at all) in university. What follows are some no doubt controversial thoughts about Kant and his discussion of the noumenal world. I am hoping that you will find time to read them. If so, I would be delighted to hear your thoughts. Please understand, however, that any criticisms below are directed toward philosophy as a field and not by any means toward yourself in particular.

Thanks again!

I am a 65-year-old philosophy buff from the states who has written hundreds of essays regarding the philosophy of the war on drugs and the attitudes that it represents. I believe that the Drug War has censored academia and in ways that most academics neither acknowledge or see. I think that the study of Kant is a case in point. For I would claim that the subject of metaphysics cannot be exhaustively discussed (especially post-Kant) without a discussion of the effects of drugs on the human understanding, especially psychedelics and the various phenethylamines synthesized by chemists like Alexander Shulgin2. These substances, after all, provide many with what they believe to be a firsthand experience of the noumenal world, a belief maintained both by tribal peoples and the majority of psychedelic users in the modern west. Nor is the interest in such brave new worlds of experience limited to tribal peoples and hippies. William James himself believed that we should study such worlds when he wrote the following in "The Varieties of Religious Experience":

"No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded"3.


Unfortunately, the Drug War forces us to disregard such forms of consciousness by outlawing the very substances that cause them. But that need not keep us from at least talking about such seemingly noumenal states.

What might the accounts of drug use tell us about the noumenal world? Permit me to give one example from personal experience.

In 2017, I traveled to Arizona to take a "spirit walk" inspired by the consumption of a peyote cactus button. During the "trip," I beheld (with my eyes shut) a neon-green slideshow of Mesoamerican imagery, with stylized depictions of warriors and animals, closely resembling the imagery found on Mayan sculpture, murals, and calendars.

Now, I am not a Mesoamerican scholar, nor was I consciously thinking of Mesoamerican history during this time in my life. So the fact that I should have such an experience should provide fodder for a wide variety of informed speculation about the nature of the noumenal world, especially as this experience occurred in an historically tribal region and using a substance that had a long history of tribal use. At very least, the experience casts doubt on any materialist account of consciousness and suggests (though certainly does not prove) the existence of a sort of panpsychic world in which the natural world participates with human consciousness in passing along culturally specific thoughts, feelings and ideas about the phenomenal world around us.

Unfortunately, the academic world pretends that drugs do not exist, and in this way, they give a monopoly to materialist explanations for experiences of this kind (when they do not ignore such experiences altogether, which is, indeed, the standard materialist MO in these cases). I await the day when academics will realize that educators are not free in the age of a Drug War and that all our supposed knowledge is based on an unacknowledged acceptance of the drug-hating ideas of Mary Baker Eddy: namely, that outlawed drugs can have no positive uses whatsoever and that therefore the effects that they have on the minds of human beings need not be taken into account when considering the truths of philosophy, or of psychology for that matter. Indeed, psychology not only ignores the Drug War but it embraces it every time that it refers to demonized substances for depression as "crutches" and plumps rather for the use of pharmaceuticals that purport to work in a "scientific" (i.e. materialist) fashion, notwithstanding the fact that the latter create lifelong dependency in 1 in 4 American women.

The idea that psychedelic drug users are seeing the noumenal world is supported by the filter theory of consciousness championed by Aldous Huxley, which states that the categories through which we observe phenomena in our sober lives constitute but one of many prisms through which we can see the world, and that psychoactive drugs have the power to open the "doors of perception" to many other aspects of reality4. These other realities are necessarily noumenal insofar as there is no consistency between "trippers" when it comes to the nature of these other worlds, notwithstanding the fact that drug users obtain different experiences from the same substance at the same dose in the same setting, etc., although the Drug Warrior might join the materialist in claiming that such experiences are merely pathological.

I will spare you any further attempts at elucidating my thesis. I hope in this short space, however, I have at least given you some reason to believe that the Drug War is, indeed, censoring academia, and that in so doing, it is limiting the extent to which we can profit from, and perhaps even improve upon, the insights of Kant with respect to our understanding of metaphysics and the perhaps "not so unknowable" nature of the noumenal world.



Notes:

1 Kant, Immanuel, The Critique of Pure Reason, (up)
2 Shulgin, Alexander, The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact, Transform Press, Santa Fe, 2021 (up)
3 James, William, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Philosophical Library, New York, 1902 (up)
4 Huxley, Aldous, The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell, Penguin Books, New York, 1970 (up)



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Previous essay: Psychedelic Cults and Outlaw Churches: LSD, Cannabis, and Spiritual Sacraments in Underground America

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William James Tweets

William James knew that there were substances that could elate. However, it never occurred to him that we should use such substances to prevent suicide. It seems James was blinded to this possibility by his puritanical assumptions.
So he writes about the mindset of the deeply depressed, reifying the condition as if it were some great "type" inevitably to be encountered in humanity. No. It's the "type" to be found in a post-Christian society that has turned up its scientific nose at psychoactive medicine.



front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans



You have been reading an article entitled, How the Drug War limits our understanding of Immanuel Kant: an open letter to Dr. V.A. Gijsbers of Leiden University, published on March 6, 2024 on AbolishTheDEA.com. For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)