Noumenautics: metaphysics – meta-ethics – psychedelics
“Philosopher Peter Sjöstedt-H’s Noumenautics traverses the mindscape of metaphysics, nihilism and psychedelic phenomenology. It navigates through subjects such as the sentience of cells, the constrictions of consciousness, the metaphysics of might, the magic of mushrooms, the narcotics of Nietzsche, and the neologism of neo-nihilism – the last of which may itself cause flashbacks.
Tracing the fall of western morality through Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, the book descends deeper still into a metaphysics further upheld by Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead. This collection of essays and notes provides a most idea-provoking, educational, and original piece of literature for the thoughtful reader and specialist alike.”
Published by Psychedelic Press UK
Available to order here.
I. Philosophy and Psychedelic Phenomenology
II. Myco-Metaphysics: a Philosopher on Magic Mushrooms
III. Psychedelics and Empiricism
IV. Bergson and Psychedelic Consciousness
V. Vertexes of Sentience: Whitehead and Psychedelic Phenomenology
VI. Antichrist Psychonaut: Nietzsche and Psychedelics
VII. Neo-Nihilism: the Philosophy of Power
VIII. The Teutonic Shift from Christian Morality: Kant – Schopenhauer – Nietzsche
IX. Schopenhauer and the Mind
X. The Will to Power
Reviews for Noumenautics:
– Philosophy Professor Michael Hauskeller:
'I greatly enjoyed this book, especially the opening essay "Myco-Metaphysics: a Philosopher on Magic Mushrooms" and "Vertexes of Sentience: Whitehead and Psychedelic Phenomenology". The writing is lucid and engaging, and the author clearly knows what he is talking about when he explores the life and philosophies of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Bergson and other equally fascinating philosophers. My only problem is that now I can't stop thinking about those mushrooms, feeling greatly tempted to try them myself.' (15th December 2015)
– From Goodreads:
Beautiful collection of essays. Although published on different occasions and in different contexts, the sequence of essays is a truly enjoyable read, whilst being informative. The author manages to write in a very eloquent, yet entertaining and informative manner, which makes it a captivating read. I especially liked the chapters on Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche as I thought they put information, that I had floating around in my mind, into one string of related events and cleaned up my messy headspace in relation to the center points of the priorly mentioned, and their relevance for each other. My favorite essay was VII. Neo-Nihilism: the Philosophy of Power, what the essay on Nietzsche and Psychedelics lacked in informative character, the following two essays made up for and regained structure. The essays are generally well worded and yet not too densely packed with information.
Peter Sjösted can be regarded as the most serious current philosopher on psychoactive substances. Most essays in Nomenautics are relatively short, and the concise language is a precious gift for a busy reader. What a joy it is to have so much content in only 130 pages. His sentences are short and concise, but the message lingers around using heavy weights. Favorites of mine were the essay of Nietzche's use of psychoactive substances, as well as the brief history of drugs in Western philosophy. Sjösted is well familiarized with philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, whose wit and eloquent use of language has surely been transmitted to the work of Sjösted as well. In addition to being an approachable piece of philosophy for non-philosophers, the ideas brought forth are of extreme importance for building foundation for philosophy on psychoactive substances. Absolutely fantastic read!
– Orchid’s Lantern – C. R. Dudley (Nov. 2017): 9/10
‘One might say that the noumenaut is a philosophical psychonaut – one who navigates through both the human harbour of ideas and out through to the inhuman ocean that is psychedelic consciousness.’ When I saw the subject matter of this collection of essays, I couldn’t wait to read it: so I was thrilled to be sent a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Although it took me a while to read, this was only due to the fact I kept stopping to make notes and contemplate, so it’s safe to say I was not disappointed. Like most books with a philosophical bent, there is a lot packed into Noumenautics’ 136 pages. It starts out with a discussion on psychedelic phenomena: what the experience of using psychedelics does to our sense of reality and physics, and how we can apply the knowledge gained from it in rational, philosophical thought. It is an area that is surprisingly omitted from most popular notions of philosophy – which may have more to do with our prescribed morality (a topic also covered in the book) than a lack of validity – so I found it fascinating. I am a fan of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, and this reads well as a scrutinising companion. ‘To deny philosophers of mind psychedelic substances is tantamount to denying instruments to musicians.’ This leads naturally into an interesting exposure of Nietzsche’s little-documented relationship with psychedelics and pharmaceutical drugs, and demonstrates their double-edged nature when used as mind-expanding tools. Psychedelics are not the only topic covered in Noumenautics, but their in-depth exploration early on in the book sets a tone for the other essays. The author uses his conclusions on the existence of psychedelic phenomena to reframe other, better known ideas, such as the human will, power, and morality. The essay entitled ‘Vertexes of Sentience’ was hugely inspiring for me, particularly as I was not previously familiar with Alfred North Whitehead, whose ideas are the focal point. The concept of ‘eternal objects’ is explained well, along with the way they appear to interact with, and ingress into, actual entities. It made me think deeply about the way our choices and achievements may both affect, and be affected by, a universal consciousness, and the way the human ‘toolkit’ interprets that to give our version of reality. ‘A spiritual experience must still be interpreted, and the tools used for interpretation are significantly cultural.’ I won’t pretend there isn’t an element of confirmation bias involved in my enjoyment here. The author skilfully explains metaphysical concepts I have only attempted to describe through the medium of storytelling, such as the ‘pure potentials of the universe’ as distinct from actuality, reconnecting to the fluidity beneath layers of social conditioning, and the practical difference between experiencing something mentally and physically carrying out the action. ‘What is the difference between dreaming that one met God, and actually meeting God?’ This last item is of particular to interest to me right now, as I am researching the effects of virtual reality on empathy and mental health for my next book; I’ll definitely be revisiting some of Noumenautics to help with this project. My favourite essay in the book, though, was ‘Neo-Nihilism: The Philosophy of Power’. It was a real eye-opener so far as the root of our morality is concerned, and argued well the case for nihilism being a sensible perspective. ‘In the West, we think we have ‘progressed’ morally from the former, less moral times. But this is false; we have simple changed: moral progress and retrogressive are illusions. In this sense, morality is more akin to fashion than to technology.’ The reader is forced to question the way we think about other cultures with different values to our own, the way we make and keep our systems of law, and what constitutes desirable (as opposed to correct) behaviour. Contemplating the unwritten contract of being a ‘good citizen’ brought to mind a whole train of thought about AI for me, which will surely appear in a story somewhere along the line, and the notion of unusual values and points of reference is a topic I have already attempted to bring into the ‘Void’ series. ‘To differ greatly from the average man is not wrong or immoral, simply different.’ Which brings me to perhaps my favourite quote from the book: ‘We are not above the violence of the brutes because we know morality; rather, we are above the brutes because we use the violence that is ‘morality’.’ In general, some great points are made in pondering the philosophical basis of will, which is of particular personal interest for application to the ‘true will’ concept in Thelema. The book also deepened my understanding of what Schopenhauer meant by will, his viewpoint on it leading to suffering, and the way that led into Nietszche’s idea of ‘will to power’. The language used throughout the book may be considered difficult to follow for anyone not used to reading philosophical works, but it is not impenetrable; it just requires some focused reading time to fully absorb the ideas. In fact, it gives a very good overview of the key ideas of several famous thinkers, and for that alone it is worth a read for anyone with an interest in the subject. There were a couple of essays I didn’t enjoy so much, but mainly because they felt like repetitions of views expressed better elsewhere in the book. However, on the whole, I have come away with such enriched ideas that have instantly inspired and enthused me, and that is above all what I look for in a book. Highly recommended.
– Michael Rose:
'Aside from Terrence McKenna and Sam Harris (uncomfortable bedfellows at opposing end of a spectrum) I've yet to find anyone writing intelligently, and beautifully, about the implications psychedelic phenomenology. This is a cheeky review as I'm only halfway through but if the concluding essays are anything like the first then we're all in for a treat.' (12th December 2015)
– Occultist Julian Vayne:
'Noumenautics by academic, philosopher and psychonaut Peter Sjöstedt-H is another fascinating book from the Psychedelic Press UK imprint. The first section deals with an analysis of the psychedelic experience (particularly those states produced by psilocybin mushrooms and LSD), while the latter section of the book presents a close analysis of (neo) nihilism and in particular the work of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. This volume joins the ranks of those tomes that emerge when you drop psychedelic drugs into the brain of a writer. The particular nihilist spin that Sjöstedt-H provides is fascinating, though I’d like to discover (perhaps in future writings) more about how the author sees the relationship of this philosophical school and psychedelics.' (The Blog of Baphomet: 8-4-2016)
– Neurosoup Book of the month – March 2016: www.neurosoup.com/noumenautics
J. D. Vore: https://youtu.be/uWZB2Ojmufo (“His writing on psychedelics are potentially revolutionary, and I do believe that this book is destined to become a classic. This book is eye-opening and educational…“)
C. Godber: https://youtu.be/xvVKnRDSkGk
For Chapter V: Vertexes of Sentience: Whitehead and Psychedelic Phenomenology
– Philosophy Professor Pieter Lemmens: ‘[An] EXCELLENT and FASCINATING paper … I really loved to read this piece.’
– Philosopher and Pop Star Alexander Bard: 'There surely are not many who fully understand Whitehead's bizarre but illuminating philosophy. But you [Sjöstedt-H] certainly do. And you've still managed to add your own specific twist to it. Excellent!'
For Chapter VI: Antichrist Psychonaut: Nietzsche and Psychedelics
– Legendary writer Warren Ellis: 'Peter Sjostedt-H has a fantastic essay called “Antichrist Psychonaut” in issue IV of PSYCHEDELIC PRESS.' (Morning Computer, 4th-2-2016)
For Chapter VII: Neo-Nihilism: the Philosophy of Power
– Legendary writer Warren Ellis: 'NEO-NIHILISM by Peter Sjöstedt-H, a short tract intended to reframe nihilism as a sane and kind response to the external world. It’s short, but extremely careful in its language, very compressed and focused. It does start from an atheist perspective, as it’s largely about finding the edges of the layered power structures in the world, so buyer beware. I thought it was a marvellous statement.' (Morning Computer, 9th-8-2015)
– Ellis has based the inhuman philosopher Marvel Superhero 'Karnak' on Sjöstedt-H's writing: '...right now, I am still writing KARNAK, and am therefore immersed in the viewpoint of various strains of speculative realism, tending towards the nihilistic frames of Peter Sjostedt-H and Eugene Thacker...' (Orbital Operations, 18th-10-2015) – 'I became aware of Peter's work through his short book NEO-NIHILISM, which turned up at just the right time for me, because it was just before I was starting to think about my approach to KARNAK, the series I'm currently writing for Marvel Comics. Peter's a philosopher by trade, ... and he's a writer of uncommon skill and clarity...' (Orbital Operations, 12th-06-2016)
– 2015 Scottish Slam Champion Bram E. Gieben: 'I hastily re-wrote some of the show's [Ex-Nihilo] earlier, introductory parts to frame some of Sjostedt-H's arguments – they are the clearest, most salient summaries of the modern position of nihilist philosophy available. Not only does this short book neatly frame and explain the major dialogues and ideas of classical nihilist thinkers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, it also manages to update the more outdated and antiquated arguments these philosophers espoused, allowing the reader to build in classical nihilist tropes and strategies to a realistic, ruthlessly modern worldview. I already had the show's shape and structure when I read this book, but it managed to elegantly re-confirm and underline all of the central points I was trying to make. As such, its influence was both a progenitor of some of the show's key moments, and a book I felt was closely in dialogue with the philosophical points I wanted to make about nihilism in the modern era.'
– A. K. Berner: 'When Paul Feyerabend died in 1994, I felt that the world was without any living top-notch philosophers. This book changed my mind on that, and I am excited to see what else Peter Sjostedt-H might write. What I liked about this book: 1) Concise, clear, and irrefutable... plucks the essence from the difficult writings of some of the greatest individualist philosophers, and can save untold 100s of hours of study for the independent thinker who is wondering what is at the heart of Nietzsche's insights, and what ethics are actually about. 2) While presenting a new perspective, stands solidly on the shoulders of giants, without the common practice of claiming to have invented something new. A philosophical work, as Wittgenstein said, " ... consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries." Peter's focus is about clear thinking about some of the most important questions in ethics, and as voluntaryists might claim that the best government is no government, Peter shows us how the best objective ethics is no objective ethics... oftentimes the finest contribution of philosophy is where it helps us see that the most basic questions we are asking already presume what should not be presumed. 3) He also *does* offer something *new* beyond clarity, and that is one of my own favorite perspectives: that rejecting objective morality has nothing to do with rejecting subjective morality and values. Therefore, the presumption that Nihilism is incompatible with morality and can never lead to a purposeful, directed, and fulfilling life is false.... but this morality must always come from within (one's own internal value scale, as Ludwig von Mises called it), not from an external moral structure.'
Ildefonso Rosas: 'If you wanna be mind-raped – This is your book then. Probable not the best eloquent review, but in simple words, that's pretty much what this author offers. I became interested in philosophy and know a bit of some thinkers, and something about nihilism and Nietzche. This guy takes it to another level and explains in very simple yet amazing way things about Nietzche and other philosophers, its a really mind opening book that makes you question everything. I'm an atheist and self proclaimed free thinker and I was mind f****d by this guy, so if you are close minded I imagine it could be very shocking. Also on a funny note I couldnt stop hearing that "turn down for what" song\meme because this guy just owns all philosophers ever. I almost died when he completely dissed Ayn Rands philosophy (because I like her books) just calling her a 'novelist' haa, I was like "yoooooo" ... And he does that with pretty much everyone. So in conclusion its an enjoyable book if you like to think a bit hard.'