Jussi Jylkkä
Philosopher, psychologist

How (not) to answer the Hard Problem of psychedelic mysticism.

Psychedelics can produce mystical experiences that involve metaphysical insights about the ultimate nature of reality, that is, the nature of reality beyond sense impressions. The hard problem of mysticism is to explain how this could be possible. That is, what could be the epistemic mechanism in mystical experience that connects one to reality at large beyond their own brain? Moreover, how is it possible that psychonauts disagree about the ultimate nature of reality if psychedelic experience produced direct and reliable knowledge of it? I examine possible responses to this problem and evaluate them from a (broadly) naturalistic perspective.

Jussi Jylkkä is a philosopher and psychologist working at the psychology department of Åbo Akademi University, Finland. He has previously done research in cognitive psychology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind and language. Since 2022 he has been working on the three-year project “Comforting delusions or life-transforming insights”, funded by the Kone foundation, focusing on psychedelic insights and their compatibility with the scientific worldview. He coordinates the Network for Psychedelic Research which brings together psychedelic researchers from both humanities and science.