Mind in Nature: Towards a Molecular Epistemology of Consciousness

PROJECT 325: Interfaces and beyond
PROJECT 325 is a transdisciplinary retreat, taking place in Wartburg near Lake Constance, Switzerland, 15th-18th February 2018.

The interfaces between mind, brain, consciousness and nature, remain exciting unresolved frontiers in science and philosophy: What is the nature of the human mind and how does conscious experience and meaning emerge in living systems?

In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness. As Freuds dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychoactive compounds could nowadays serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of the molecular epistemology and phenomenology of consciousness. Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history for shamanic, therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states of consciousness also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe.

This transdisciplinary talk provides an integral approach of understanding the nature of human existence from its molecular basis up to the level of phenomenal consciousness. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored. This journey into remote territories advocates an attitude of epistemological humility: Reality turns out to be an ever-changing dance of possibilities that transcends the conceptually misleading distinctions between mind and matter that pervade the history of rationalistic thought.