Can Psychedelics Expand Our Consciousness?

It’s hard to escape our own cultural lens: It’s a constant struggle, for anthropologists as much as anyone. Still, Harris’s perspective would, I think, be strengthened by his explicitly considering the variable cultural contexts for what he’s espousing.

“It is your mind, rather than circumstances themselves, that determines the quality of your life,” he writes, then repeats this sentiment in similar words throughout the book.

Does Harris really think that mushrooms and meditation are enough to overcome, to take but one example, a life of hunger or poor health emerging from poverty? Of course not. Harris is smarter than that — but he’s writing for a certain audience, and what comes to the fore is not a global perspective on human suffering or on what society should do about it.

Circling back to the passage from Waking Up that I used to open this post, I’ll wager that we can collectively create a lengthy list of responsibilities that our society has — to each other, to our environment, to other animals — that take take priority over eating mushrooms or dropping acid and urging our adult children to do so.

Barbara’s most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

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