Three Maxims of Terence McKenna's Philosophy
by triwx, 22.11.2011

I am a great McKenna fan despite my conviction that 2012 prophecies (as well as other McKenna ideas such as stoned ape hypothesis, mushrooms being aliens, songs of shamans on ayahuasca vibrating DNA, etc.) are pure nonsense. I can therefore identify with both sides of the argument. This is my humble attempt to establish middle ground.

Here are a few maxims summing up his philosophy.

Maxim 1: Culture is your operating system and it is not your friend

This is the elementary experience of everyone who has done enough psychedelics. Whenever one is high enough there comes a moment of crystal clear realization that: religions are full of shit, government is full of shit, schools are full of shit, boss at work is full of shit, parents are full of shit, TV is full of shit, american dream is full of shit and activist groups saying that it all can be fixed if we just ... are full of shit. We are all to some degree hypnotized into not-thinking by ordinary unquestioned cultural assumptions and prejudices. Out of laziness and conformity we outsource our consciousness to society which does not manage it to our interests but to the interests of whoever has money to pay for commercial time. McKenna was not a conspiracy theorist. He did not believe that this is the result of a deliberate attempt to dumb us down by some malevolent force. He simply articulated his realization that our beliefs, institutions and habits of behavior are not divinely revealed or carefully thought out by enlightened sages but are the result of impersonal forces of memetical evolution shaped by political propaganda, product marketing and old religions. The task is to liberate oneself from this matrix into full human consciousness.

The epistemology corresponding to this view is the idea that the data stream of culture is poisoned, so one should distrust what one is told and rely on immediate individual experience.

The problem with this is that it is not easy to even discover all of one's unspoken assumptions and it is much harder to openly critically evaluate them. Our ego and the narratives which we use to rationalize our failings and justify our actions rely on them. If fundamental assumptions of our life are being questioned we feel as if our whole life is being questioned. We hysterically and violently cling to our myths. This is where the second maxim becomes useful.


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