Forms of Psychedelic Life: An Interdisciplinary Conference Exploring the Intersections of Aesthetics, Ethics, Religion, and Altered States
UC Berkeley | Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
In a recent article, the anthropologist Eduardo Kohn argues for an attunement to psychedelic – or “mind-manifesting” – shapes and forms as technologies for orienting ethical life and envisioning planetary repair. Kohn proposes an expansive definition of “psychedelic science” as a method that encompasses a variety of technologies with the capacity to attend to processes and patterns of “mind-manifesting” in the world.
In dialogue with Kohn’s article, this conference seeks to foster an interdisciplinary conversation on the significance of psychedelics – and altered states more generally – for ways of knowing and engaging with the world. Across different historical periods and societies, altered states – drug-induced and otherwise – have inspired and shaped a multiplicity of epistemological, ethical, religious and aesthetic traditions. Medical and healing practices comprise only a part of these, and so in contrast to the typical focus in recent psychedelic conferences on clinical and scientific research, this conference instead invites a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on the contemporary psychedelic revival that centers the arts, humanities, and social sciences alongside biomedical framings of psychedelics. The goal of the conference is to enrich contemporary discussions regarding the significance of psychedelics and altered states not only for scientific research and mental/physical health, but also for religious, ethical, and aesthetic forms of life across different political and historical communities.
The conference begins with two evenings of documentary screenings on April 12-13, followed by two days of talks and presentations on April 14-15, 2023. The conference is free and open to the public. All events are in-person only and seating is first come, first serve. All conference venues are ADA accessible. For the full schedule and list of event locations, please visit the conference website.
Organized by the Townsend Center Working Group “Psychedelics, Neuroscience and Religion” and co-sponsored by The Berkeley Center for Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry; The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion; The Center for Swedenborgian Studies at the Graduate Theological Union; The Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary; The UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology; and The UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities.