Can Ideas Get You High?

Jacob Hnri 6 (CC)

If the answer is positive, there must be some very stoned disinfonauts out there! Jason Silva writes at CNN:

…I want big ideas to have aesthetic relevance. I want to tickle people’s intellectual sensibilities and instill a sense of wonder. I think big ideas should get people high!

My short videos, which I call shots of philosophical espresso, are trailers for these ideas. They are not a substitute for a book or academic paper — they are instigators. My work is simply another way for wider audiences to engage with these ideas. My goal is for those who might not be inclined toward heady discourse to find a way still to connect to these ideas.

Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey coined the term “the biological advantage of being awestruck” to describe his theory on why our unique ability to be enthralled was, somehow, biologically selected for in a Darwinian sense. He believes this quirk of our consciousness imbues our lives with a sense of cosmic significance that over the course of history has resulted in a species that works harder not just to survive but to flourish and thrive. To “awe” gives us a “raison d’etre.” A reason for being. You can learn more about Humphrey’s idea in my video “A Movie Trailer for Awe.”

Humphrey says being enchanted by the magic of experience, rather than being just an aid to survival, provides an essential incentive to survive.

“We relish just being here,” he says. “We feel the yen to confirm and renew, in small ways or large, our own occupancy of the present moment, to go deeper, to extend it, to revel in being there, and when we have the skill, to celebrate it in words. …”

As pop philosopher Alain De Botton wrote in “The Art of Travel,” “There is an urge to say: I was here, I felt this, and it matters!”
And this sense of cosmic awe continues to manifest itself in the age of technology, as Erik Davis wrote in his book “TechGnosis”:

“Collectively, Human societies can no more dodge sublime imaginings or spiritual yearnings than they can transcend the tidal pulls of Eros. …

“We are beset with a thirst for meaning and connection that centuries of skeptical philosophy, hardheaded materialism cannot eliminate. … Today we turn to the cosmic awe conjured by science fiction, or the outer-space snapshots of the Hubble telescope as it calls forth our ever-deeper, ever-brighter possible selves.”

Terence McKenna, in his book “Food of the Gods,” wrote about the origins of human language: this unique, often ecstatic expression of consciousness that bursts forth as morsels of meaning encoded as vocal patterns…

[continues at at CNN]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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8 Comments on "Can Ideas Get You High?"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Nov 14, 2012 at 7:02 am |

    intoxicating idea
    I’ll ponder it again when I’m sober

  2. Gerald Eleven | Nov 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |

    Simple answer; YES.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Nov 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

      But only if you believe the idea can make a difference. Actual experience tends to take the shine off ideas.

      That usually means that you can forget about getting excited ever again once you hit 30. That age drops to 8 if you live in Wisconsin, though. We pride ourselves in never learning anything. That’s why beer and cheese are so big over here.

      Come to think of it, beer and cheese are why WE’re so big over here.

  3. liquidself | Nov 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

    Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey believes “this quirk of our consciousness imbues our lives with a sense of cosmic significance”. Really? He thinks that a sense of awe is just “a quirk”? So he is arguing in a very real sense that this deeper sense of reality is a basic drive to survival as well, and yet still refers to it as a quirk. That is so astounding. When are scientists going to start to actually look inside the consciousness toolbox they are using everyday and realize that cognitive awareness guides the evolution of the species in question?. I do agree with most of what these fellows are doing but it is such an incredibly passive view of evolution. I’d also like to point out in reference to blurb by Erik Davis that skepticism has included questioning of among other things the very existence of causes (David Hume), and so cannot be solely included within the materialist cause.

  4. DeepCough | Nov 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

    This discovery will naturally explain the reason why the government finally institutes the concept of “thought crime” into law.

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