Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Huxley and The Doors of Perception (1/3)

My report series will be about Aldous Huxley, focusing specifically on his work with psychogenic substances that he details in his book, The Doors of Perception. In 1952, Huxley read a paper written by Humphry Osmond, a British psychiatrist studying schizophrenia. As part of his research, Osmond identified the active ingredient of peyote- mescaline. Huxley became interested in the effects of mescaline, particularly how it would affect our minds. Huxley’s thought (stemming from research done by C.D. Broad) was that the brain was a series of filters designed to condense the world into something that we could process. His hope was that mescaline (and later, LSD) would reduce or remove those filter’s affects on our perceptions and unlock a deeper understanding of the world. In 1953, Huxley had his first mescaline experience, administered in his home by the same Humphry Osmond who first piqued Huxley’s curiosity. Huxley’s account of the experience would shortly become The Doors of Perception.

In my second blog post, I will be further exploring Huxley’s studies of psychoactive drugs and the concepts that he developed from those experiences. In particular, I am interested in the core concept known as “mind at large”. The idea of the brain being a complex set of filters is not unique to Huxley, so I will be making a short diversion into the works of the aforementioned C.D. Broad.   

My third blog post will examine the impact of The Doors of Perception. Open support of psychoactive drugs and claims that they will lead to a greater understanding of life are still hot topics, and they generated a good deal of response, especially from religious leaders.    

1 comment:

  1. This seems like it's going to be a very interesting series. It's always quite an experience listening to someone who is openly using mind altering substances. I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say about Huxley's experiences and conclusions.