Abstract for a Talk at Psychedemia, Sunday, September 30th
Ecodelics: Information Technologies for the Mind Beyond Thought
Professor Richard Doyle is Liberal Arts Research Professor at Penn State University, where he has taught since 1994. Ever since reading the work of futurist Alvin Toffler at age 12, Doyle has been on a scholarly and personal quest to understand the effects of information technologies on the evolution of human culture. After completing a PhD at UC Berkeley and a post doctoral fellowship at MIT, he has received grants from the National Science Foundation and written a trilogy of scholarly peer reviewed books on the effects of information technologies on human evolution and the effects of language on consciousness. His latest, Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants & The Evolution of the Noösphere, focuses on the co-evolution of humans with plants such as psilocybin, cannabis and ayahuasca as “eloquence adjuncts” – amplifiers of human rhetorical capacities, capacities for speaking and seduction that can increase the sexually selective fitness of what evolutionary biologist Geoffrey Miller has called the “mating mind.” This effect of psychedelics on language functions both ways: Psychedelic experiences are themselves extraordinarily sensitive to initial rhetorical conditions: set and setting includes the very names of these plants and compounds, as well as any “scripts” for the experience. Doyle’s talk will focus on the idea that plants such as cannabis, psilocybin and ayahuasca – a mixture of plants prepared in the Upper Amazon for shamanic healing – are in this context best scripted not as “drugs” but as living technologies – “ecodelics” – for investigating the long neglected subjective experience of human beings, a very real but seldom explored domain “beyond thought” where the “I” becomes humbled by its implication in a much larger domain, e.g. “ego death” before our ecosystemic interconnection. Drawing on his own experience of being healed of severe life long asthma with the help of his teacher Norma Panduro and ayahuasca, Doyle experimentally labels ayahuasca a “starship grade self aware information technology” for exploring the estimated fifty trillion neuronal connections of the human mind, connections best explored in the silence of a mind guided beyond thought.