Psychedelic Philosophy: Psychedelic Hermeneutics

Psychedelic Phenomenology

“The body is our general medium for having a world,” wrote Merleau-Ponty in 1945. How does our point of reference influence the very world we seem to be perceiving? Is there an act of creation in every darted look, every wry smile, every song of innocence and experience?

Ever since Kant’s distinction between the noumenon (the ding an sich or ‘thing in itself’) and the phenomenon, the thing as it appears to us, philosophers from Hegel onward have been questioning, ‘is the phenomenon *all* there is to us?’ Is the phenomena (all we know of) the noumena?

Take Frank Jackson’s thought experiment: Mary is a colour scientist. She has studied colour her whole life. Her focus is red. She knows what happens when that particular band of frequency of electromagnet wave hits the retina, travels through to the occipital cortex, what it does when it’s there. But she’s never actually seen red. Through force of circumstance, she’s lived in a redless world her entire life. One day, she steps out of her front door and suddenly there is red. Does she learn anything new about the colour red?

Psychedelic Press’ own Peter Sjostedt Hughes has named his book, noumenautics, in the interest of exploring whether psychedelics may get us closer to the ‘thing in itself’.

There are harmonies and resonances here with the Hindu concept of maya, or illusion and the world as a divine play, or lila. The world is not as it appears, it is a dance, a game, to make of what we will: we uncover the world, creating it in a constant interplay of perceiver, perceiving and perceived.

This class will take us through the history of phenomenology. This history, it must be noted, includes mescaline! Sartre found his experience, in the words of Mike Jay, “elusive and sinister”, writing “it could only exist by stealth” its action on mind and body being “inconsistent and mysterious”. According to Simone de Beauvoir, he was hunted for weeks after by “lobster-like creatures scuttling just beyond his field of vision.” Maurice Merleau-Ponty, by contrast, found his fascinating, claiming that they undo the sureties of scientific thinking as things as “event[s] in the chain of events running from the stimulus to the state of consciousness”, the phenomena are “not purely intellectual” but to do with “being in the world.”


Quotations below are to masticate and digest (with your bodies as well) before the class, if you fancy!

“History in general is therefore the development of Spirit in Time, as Nature is the development of the Idea is Space.”

“Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself.”

“Only one man ever understood me, and he didn't understand me.” – all from Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’

“Pure phenomenology is the science of pure consciousness.” - ― Edmund Husserl

“The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being. As the ego cogito, subjectivity is the consciousness that represents something, relates this representation back to itself, and so gathers with itself. The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”

“Tell me how you read and I'll tell you who you are.”

“Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.”

“Thinking only begins at the point where we have come to know that Reason, glorified for centuries, is the most obstinate adversary of thinking.”

“The possible ranks higher than the actual.” – Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’

“The body is our general medium for having a world.” – Merleau-Ponty


★★★★★ Intimate, insightful, fun seminar! Mark is a great teacher and always welcomes suggestions and questions from the group. I will be attending again.

★★★★★ Amazing session. Lindsay is a great communicator and lecturer. There was a good balance between group discussions and Lindsay lecturing directly. Her passion for education and psychedelics is positively infectious. I will be attending another PS event again soon!

★★★★★ These events are always amazing. Trust me, you are going to learn something that will change your outlook.

★★★★★ Really good. Didn’t expect to like the discussion aspect but was actually incredibly useful. Saw a few, even stubborn minds changed and was certainly insightful and valuable. Thank you.

★★★★★ I had a really good time. The host was extremely knowledgeable and the talk was well paced and interesting.


Psychedelic Philosophy is a discussion group for people with an interest in exploring the philosophical issues related to the use of psychedelics. It is a lively, fun space to engage with ideas, have our preconceptions challenged, and connect with others interested in questioning what IS, and what it MEANS.

Sessions run every few weeks and include a short presentation by a facilitator, followed by structured discussion activities. Preparatory reading will be provided for those who want to do it, but homework is always optional!

Who will be facilitating these sessions?

Lindsay Jordan is a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts London, where she teaches philosophy and theory of education. She is currently researching the purpose of universities, the role of psychoactive substances as educational tools, and moral enhancement. She won the student prize at Breaking Convention 2017 for a doctoral assignment on psychedelic enquiry (, and spoke at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on ‘What Are Psychedelics For?’ (

Mark Juhan graduated in Theology & Religious Studies from Pembroke College, Oxford and has just completed a masters in Religion and Society at St John’s, Durham. He has been a lay chaplain and is currently applying for a doctorate in psychedelic theology. He is interested in the relationship between drugs and culture, specifically the potential of augmenting religion with ritual entheogenesis. Mark has spoken at Breaking Convention 2017 on Christicisms of mystical thrill-seeking ( and at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on a social study he has conducted (

► Please arrive early for a 7pm start

► It involves a bring-and-share supper: bring culinary goodies if you can.

For any enquiries please contact:

Did you know Members of the Psychedelic Society get 10% off all our events?
Join from £5 a month and become part of this amazing community!

The space is not wheelchair accessible unfortunately. The workshop room is located on the second floor with no lift. Toilets are located on the first floor. The workshop features a slide show and might not be suitable for people with visual impairment. The workshop features talking and listening and might not be suitable for people with a hearing impairment. Please enquire with us if you have questions. This event is a sober space.

Please note that we can not offer refunds or exchanges. We do welcome swapping or reselling your tickets with people you know or on TicketSwap

Buy tickets

Bought a ticket, but now can't make it?
List your ticket on Ticketswap

Join 69,654 others receiving the Psychedelic Society's monthly newsletter.

Get the latest news and updates straight to your inbox.