Jon Waterlow 3 min read

HighExistence Podcast #6: Peter Sjöstedt-H on Nietzsche, Panpsychism, and the Hidden Psychedelic History of Philosophy

Philosophy Psychedelics & Drugs Delic

Peter Sjöstedt highexistence
Peter Sjöstedt highexistence

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If truth exists […] then there are different routes thereto. Western philosophy is just one of those…

– Peter Sjöstedt-H

At Breaking Convention 2017, HE co-founder Martijn Schirp and I had the chance to sit down with a modern-day philosophical powerhouse.

Peter Sjöstedt-H has been called a “psychedelic Nietzsche.” He’s a leading voice in the emerging world of psychedelic phenomenology; he was also an inspiration for Karnak, Marvel’s new, cerebrally-potent superhero; and he’s the author behind one of HighExistence’s most popular articles ever: The Hidden Psychedelic History of Philosophy: Plato, Nietzsche, and 11 Other Philosophers Who Used Mind-Altering Drugs.

Peter Sjöstedt-H interview
Peter, Martijn, and I.

From Plato to Nietzsche, psychoactive substances have influenced some of humanity’s greatest thinkers. This shouldn’t surprise us, though. As Peter argues: Philosophy and psychedelics are both mind-altering substances, and Philosophy is arguably our most potent endogenous psychedelic.

They can each strip away the tacit assumptions we carry with us, disrupting our cultural programming and ego games, forcing us to confront different, disorientating realities. But this doesn’t have to be frightening.

“Nietzsche generally is very emancipating. Once you’ve read Nietzsche, you can’t go back.”

– Peter Sjöstedt-H

Like reading Nietzsche, psychedelics can also open to the door to freedoms we didn’t even know we were missing, and even allow us to touch the Sublime.

At its core, Philosophy is the shaman of academia. It’s a bridge between disciplinary worlds which, Peter tells us, is now working to overcome the deadlock in the sciences over the mind-body problem (Are we simply matter, or is there something else to us which transcends the material?).

Peter’s mission is to construct that bridge: a bridge composed of questions rather than assumptions and which opens rather than closes the mind to the unknown and unconventional.

The challenge is daunting, but Philosophy has always been at the forefront in trying to map our mental worlds and, in the words of Alan Watts, to “eff the ineffable”.

In this mind-expanding, life-affirming discussion we aim to do just that, covering a ton of ground on the way:

  • How to cultivate the strength to work with fundamental uncertainties and, as we learn more, with the growing realization that we know almost nothing
  • Does more knowledge lead to more happiness?
  • Peter’s controversial take on what Nietzsche’s Will To Power means for our own lives
  • Why we need to create new mysteries and initiation rites to fill the spiritual vacuum in modern life
  • How you can use Philosophy to transform psychedelic experiences from “woo-woo” trip reports into paradigm-shifting insights
  • The long-suppressed history of Nietzsche’s drug use while composing his final, landmark works
  • Whether western philosophy is simply playing catch-up to the ancient philosophies of Buddhism and Hinduism

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