Article: “To learn healing knowledge”: Philosophy, psychedelic studies and transformation

Published in the South African Journal of Philosophy:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02580136.2018.1532186

Note that I have a few full e-copies to share as part of the publisher’s terms and conditions. Use the contact tab in the header menu to request a full copy directly from me.

Abstract:

“Philosophical learning” may be summarised in Sobiecki’s fitting catchphrase “to learn healing knowledge”. This catchphrase is taken from an article on the use of psychoactive plants among southern African diviners. In the spirit of this link, I aim to challenge contemporary negative attitudes to the topic of psychedelics, and argue that there are good reasons for philosophers to pay attention to the role that the psychedelic experience can play in promoting philosophical perception. I argue first that the results of some contemporary studies affirm the benefits of psychedelic use in an “orchestrated guided experience”. Secondly, I argue that the aims of such “orchestrated guided experiences” are consonant with the nature of philosophical learning. Philosophy, understood as a learning practice, has a strong historical precedent and ties to contemporary indigenous cultural practices. Here I cite research into the use of psychedelics and the Eleusinian Mysteries at the origin of Western philosophy. Numerous cultures, ancient and contemporary, venerate psychoactive substances as agents of learning, healing, and transformation. Thus, contemporary mainstream philosophy may have opportunities to learn, or relearn, from southern African indigenous cultural practices. Considering the positive light in which the topic of psychedelics will be painted, I will conclude by suggesting that psychedelics have the potential to play an important role in fostering the deeply transformative “philosophical learning” that is the condition for positive social change. This makes the topic of psychedelics worthy of philosophical reflection.

Podcast / Talk / Lecture: Gil Germain, Thinking About Technology

This isn’t a traditional podcast (is there such a thing?), i.e. it’s not a conversation or interview.

It’s a talk / lecture by Prof. Gil Germain, recorded at Nelson Mandela University.

The focus of the talk is on some concepts and issues Gil covers in his book, Thinking about Technology: How the Technological Mind Misreads Reality.

No intro, no outro. Just the talk. It’s a pleasure!

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the talk:

“As a human being, how do you maintain your humanity in a world that, in many ways, is robbing you of it? Baudrillard, at one point, half flippantly half seriously, says you have to shun anything that wants to care for you. All these enabling technologies, all these algorithms… They’re all well and good; it’s not as if they don’t do the job – that’s not the point. The point is they’re doing it for you. There are experts telling you what to do, what to say, what to eat. It takes, I think, a monumental effort of will to sort of push it back a little, to give yourself room to do your own thing, even if it results in you not making optimal choices. At least there’s some semblance of autonomy.”

Talk length: 45 minutes (If you only have half an hour to listen, I suggest starting at 15:10 into the recording).

File size: 36.4 MB

DOWNLOAD HERE: CLICK!

Podcast: Sean Martin on Blockchain

Sean kindly shared his extensive knowledge of blockchain with me. Very informative for newbies to the topic of blockchain (like me), as well as to blockchain and technology enthusiasts, and business-minded people in general. Considering the inevitability that blockchain will eventually be integrated into so many aspects of our technologically-mediated lives, this episode is a ‘must-listen’.

Visit Sean’s business website at www.arktree.io

Podcast length: 1 hr 14 minutes

Podcast size: 63.3 mb

DOWNLOAD HERE – CLICK!

Article: Placing the ecological crisis in a broader context – the Orphic and the Promethean

Full article available here: https://journals.co.za/content/journal/10520/EJC-1226e0d913

Abstract: 

The historical prevalence of Promethean characteristics such as dominion and domination has resulted in a dispensation where exclusive pragmatism and habitual perception have steered human actions in directions that have resulted in an unprecedented ecological crisis. Christianity, reductionist science, pragmatic technology, and capitalism have homogenised discursive arenas, limiting the extent to which one can exercise negative freedom, and making ecological degradation unavoidable as a consequence of Promethean progress. Mechanisms exist that prevent changes toward ecologically-sensitive attitudes from rooting and spreading as remedies to Promethean attitudes. Alternative, Orphic attitudes, theories, and movements do exist, and they offer something of a response to Promethean attitudes underpinning the ecological crisis. Permaculture offers a down to earth, contextbound approach to establishing Orphic systems, while philosophy in two specific formats are tools to further broaden the context of the ecological crisis. These philosophical formats are, first, Badiou and Žižek’s outline of the role of philosophy “in the present,” and second, Pierre Hadot’s work on philosophy as a way of life. From the first, it is clear that philosophy cannot confine itself to humanity as it has been historically constituted, which implies that it cannot confine itself to the realm of the Promethean, which has dominated Western history. From the second, philosophy as a way of life entails a breakaway from Promethean, utilitarian, and habitual perception, and aligns itself with an Orphic form of consciousness.

Podcast: Riley Thompson on Gender Transition, Art, and more

Riley kindly agreed to have a recorded conversation with me about her gender transition. We cover quite a bit of thematic territory during the conversation, so it is not exclusively about gender transition, but gender transition is the nexus of the discussion.

Links to pages offering glimpses of some of Riley’s work:

https://rileymakesstuff.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Rileymakesstuff/

Podcast length: 1 hr 49 mins

Podcast size: 97mb

DOWNLOAD HERE – CLICK!

Linux Mint 19 installation, and getting WINE to work

I’ve been a Linux Mint OS user for several years now. I stuck with version 17.3 for a long time, but I screwed things up on numerous occasions by copy-pasting command line instructions from random sources on the net. Eventually I started encountering issues because I had changed file locations and destinations too many times, and decided a fresh install would be nice.

Here are the steps involved:

1) Back everything up from the OS you are about to obliterate. I used an external hard drive.

2) Check again if everything is backed up somewhere, because it will soon be wiped from the computer’s disk forever.

3) Download the newest version of Mint. Find and use the software to create a bootable pen drive. I used Mint 17.3’s default ‘USB Image Writer’.

4) Restart the computer with the pen drive inserted into a USB port. You may need to enter BIOS setup to be able to boot from the pen drive. You may encounter UEFI vs. Legacy boot options, in which case ask a search engine about what to do.

5) Once the boot drive is running, follow the instructions and install your new OS. Very simple.

6) Search online for ‘Things to do after Linux Mint 19 install’ – there are plenty of articles out there to guide you through the update process, a few tweaks, and recommended software.

7) Copy your files from their temporary storage space to the new home folder.

There is really nothing new in the steps I offered. I’ve gone through the process several times and it is pretty painless. With one exception…

The exception is getting any must-have Windows software on the Linux OS. I often encounter compatibility issues when someone sends me a MS Word file or MS powerpoint file, because I tend to use Libre Office. LO is a great office suite, and it really shouldn’t be necessary to use MS Office unless you run into compatibility issues, like I did.

To get the Windows software to run on Linux, you have a few options. Two of these options are to use WINE or a virtual machine. I have never used a virtual machine, but I have used WINE (which is software that will create a ‘compatibility layer’ for running Windows software) via Linux software called PlayOnLinux. PlayOnLinux did not work after several installations and removals, so I reverted straight to WINE.

HOWEVER, I struggled for ages to get WINE installed, because what I did in previous installations simply did not work. A very, very, very long story short, here is how I managed to get it installed:

1) Open terminal (ctrl+alt+t).

2) Type the following commands in one at a time, pressing enter after each command:

wget https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/Release.key
sudo apt-key add Release.key
sudo apt-add-repository ‘https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/’

3) This was the key instruction, which is to follow the previous three:

sudo apt-get install --install-recommends winehq-devel

4) With WINE now installed, find the WINE folder. Mine was in the home folder, but it was hidden. You use ctrl+H to show hidden files. Enter the WINE folder, and then the drive_c folder.

5) Add a folder into which you will copy-paste the executable windows file. Now I must say I used a .iso file for a MS Office installation, and copy-pasted it into the ‘Files’ folder I created on WINE’s drive_c folder. I ran the .iso by right clicking it and opening with archive manager. It opened all the files in a new window, and I clicked extract. It extracted into the same ‘Files’ folder in which I was working. You may be using a .exe file, but I imagine the same procedure applies.

6) Once extracted, I found the ‘install.exe’ file and ran the process as I would have done in a Windows OS. The procedure was self-explanatory for the rest of the office install. I had to accept the installation of some other wine-related software a couple of times, but it all ran itself really.

7) Once everything seemed done, I closed the several windows that had been opened, went to the menu bar, typed ‘word’ or ‘office’ and the programmes were there. I right-clicked and added icons to my bottom panel. You may wish to add desktop items instead.

 

Podcast: Bert Olivier on Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, The Ecological Crisis, Capitalism, and More

This is Bert Olivier, a close friend and mentor, with his partner Marianna:

Bert’s formal title is Extraordinary Professor of Philosophy – apologies, in the intro I refer to him as remarkable professor, but this wrong (same-same but different!!). He has 47 or 48 years of employment and participation in the world of academia, and his publishing record is formidable. His in-depth philosophical knowledge is apparent within moments of speaking with him, and he has much to offer in the way of perspective and thought provocation. You can find many of his academic articles online, and he frequently writes excellent pieces for the Mail and Guardian’s thoughtleader platform. Link here.

Apologies for the poor sound quality of the interview – I did what I could after the gremlins stole a small piece of recording kit that made it impossible to test the audio quality when going into the interview.

Short guitar lead-in to the interview is a snippet of Damian Williams’ beautiful acoustic guitaring, with me on the bass guitar.

Download at 128kbps (118mb): DOWNLOAD HERE.

Mini ‘Peterberg’ batch burner

Peterberg style batch box burner. Different to the ‘J-tube’ style rocket stoves I have made so far in that all the wood is placed in the batch box at once. The idea is that the precise, calculated dimensions of the batch box facilitate a maximum-efficiency combustion of the wood.

No idea what I will end up doing with the burner yet. I made it out of sheer curiosity. What is really nice is that this tiny one is move-able by two people.

Small solar power system at off-grid cabin

This post is about the small solar power system that provides us with light (dc, i.e. direct current) and power for a few things at our off-grid cabin.

The ‘few things’ I refer to are:

  • phone charging (dc)
  • laptop (occasional use) – direct power (dc) and battery charge (ac, i.e. alternating current)
  • hair clippers (ac)
  • headlight battery charging (dc)
  • cordless drill battery charging (ac)
  • and a few other miscellaneous things

Here’s the panel. It’s a 128W, 24V panel that seems to work excellently with the 12V system:

Bolted and locked to the roof:

MPPT controller/regulator and breaker switches:

The two batteries, 102Ah each, connected to each other to maintain the 12V system config. Also, the 600W inverter used for AC conversion:

Small diy LED light; there are several of these inside and outside the cabin:

The car radio/stereo and speakers powered directly:

The DC jack that connects to various devices:

The little phone charger job I threw together:

The small inverter that connects to the previously pictured jack and converts 12v to 13-24v depending on requirement. The laptop runs at 19v; I had to find an old power supply for my laptop, cut off the connection, and wire it into a new connection:

A close-up of the small inverted and male-female jacks:

 

 

Rocket thermal mass heater

Materials used:

Old boiler/geyser barrel.

Fire bricks for the burn chamber.

All other bricks are standard bricks.

Ceramic fibre board for the riser inside the barrel.

Clay and sand mortar between all standard bricks.

Fire-cement (very tiny amount) between burn chamber fire bricks.

Cob plaster to seal barrel and around burn chamber.

(All bricks will eventually be cobbed).

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