Lindsay Jordan is a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts London where she leads a postgraduate course in the philosophy and practice of higher education. She is also a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University. Her thesis explores the current and future role of universities in society and considers how higher education and research might recover from the disenchantment of secularisation and specialisation. Lindsay is particularly interested in altered states of consciousness and their contribution to human flourishing and fulfilment. Her autoethnography of psychedelic experience and doctoral study – submitted as a requirement to transfer onto the final stage of her doctorate – won the 2017 Breaking Convention student essay competition. She has an article forthcoming in the Journal of Educational Philosophy and Theory that debates the status of nootropics and psychedelics as educational tools.
What are psychedelics for?
Psychedelics have been theorized as a means to various ends: Personal growth, healing, recreation, social engineering and political change to name but a few. Two decades before Humphrey Osmond gave him 400mg of mescaline, still of the mind that drugs were ‘toxic short cuts to self-transcendence’ (1952), Aldous Huxley wrote that ‘experience is not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.’ (1932). Replace ‘psychedelics’ for ‘education’, and my opening sentence holds true. Philosophers of education spend their careers contemplating its aims and purpose, and on what criteria it should be evaluated. Good philosophers of education, e.g. Hogan (2010), argue that education is intrinsically valuable – an end in itself. This view frames learning as ontological rather than epistemological; less about the having of knowledge, skills and values, than about being. It recognises learning as an open system that contributes to human flourishing and fulfilment. In this lecture I propose that psychedelic enquiry is a mode of education, and explain the implications for how we talk about its aims and purpose. In short, I argue for a philosophy of psychedelic education. Hogan, P. 2010. The New Significance of Learning. Routledge. Huxley, A. 1932. Texts and Pretexts. Chatto & Windus. Huxley, A. 1952. The Devils of Loudun. Chatto & Windus.