Peter Sjöstedt-H: Beauty, Aesthetics, & The Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelic philosopher of mind Peter Sjöstedt-H discusses Beauty, as experienced under the influence of psychedelics. Why is it, that under the influence of psychedelic compounds, one can begin to perceive everyday objects as infinitely beautiful, as if a shroud has been lifted, revealing it's aesthetic nature more fully? In this segment, we discuss why this might be the case --- that by applying philosophical concepts to the psychedelic experience, we can begin to contemplate the nature of Beauty, and the nature of aesthetics more generally.

Peter Sjöstedt-H is an Anglo-Scandinavian philosopher of mind with a focus on psychedelics and panpsychism, who specializes in the thought of Whitehead, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Peter is the author of ‘Noumenautics’ - a collection of essays on metaphysics, meta-ethics, and psychedelics. Learn more about Peter and his work at his website

This is a segment of episode #129 of Last Born In The Wilderness “Suffused With Mind: Panpsychism, Psychedelics, & Philosophy w/ Peter Sjöstedt-H.” Listen to the full episode here:

Title card features the work of Daniel Adel.

Aldous Huxley on his experience with mescaline in 'The Doors of Perception':

‘”This is how one ought to see," I kept saying as I looked down at my trousers, or glanced at the jeweled books in the shelves, at the legs of my infinitely more than Van-Goghian chair. "This is how one ought to see, how things really are." And yet there were reservations. For if one always saw like this, one would never want to do anything else. Just looking, just being the divine Not-self of flower, of book, of chair, of flannel. That would be enough. But in that case what about other people? What about human relations? In the recording of that morning's conversations I find the question constantly repeated, "What about human relations?" How could one reconcile this timeless bliss of seeing as one ought to see with the temporal duties of doing what one ought to do and feeling as one ought to feel? "One ought to be able," I said, "to see these trousers as infinitely important and human beings as still more infinitely important." One ought-but in practice it seemed to be impossible. This participation in the manifest glory of things left no room, so to speak, for the ordinary, the necessary concerns of human existence, above all for concerns involving persons. For Persons are selves and, in one respect at least, I was now a Not-self, simultaneously perceiving and being the Not-self of the things around me. To this new-born Not-self, the behavior, the appearance, the very thought of the self it had momentarily ceased to be, and of other selves, its one-time fellows, seemed not indeed distasteful (for distastefulness was not one of the categories in terms of which I was thinking), but enormously irrelevant. Compelled by the investigator to analyze and report on what I was doing (and how I longed to be left alone with Eternity in a flower, Infinity in four chair legs and the Absolute in the folds of a pair of flannel trousers!), I realized that I was deliberately avoiding the eyes of those who were with me in the room, deliberately refraining from being too much aware of them. One was my wife, the other a man I respected and greatly liked; but both belonged to the world from which, for the moment, mescaline had delivered me “a world of selves, of time, of moral judgments and utilitarian considerations, the world (and it was this aspect of human life which I wished, above all else, to forget) of self-assertion, of cocksureness, of overvalued words and idolatrously worshiped notions.’ (