Friday, February 04, 2011

Critical Thinking Through Altered Consciousness

A trusted friend mentioned that many of her friends are critical thinkers and she asked the question, "How did you learn to analyze this way?" The question itself was a little problematic for me. First, if I chose to answer the question, I felt it might be somewhat presumptuous of me to consider myself a critical thinker. Even though I would like to think of myself as having the ability of critical thought, I really do not think I am qualified to make such an assumption. Secondly, I was not sure if what I consider to be critical thought could equate to a one size fits all definition that would be accepted. I view the process of critical thinking to be a personal undertaking in analyzing myself. I can only understand the exterior of my world and all its integral parts if I have an understanding of my inner self.

Most people seem to relate the ability of critical thinking to lessons learned from family, education, or as a prerequisite of a chosen profession. I have given it much thought, and I cannot reasonably say I can attribute any ability I may have to either of these examples. The closest my Dad came to urging me to use critical thinking was when he told me, "Son, don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see." Perhaps that was enough, seeing how it has stuck with me all these years. I can't say the 30+ hours of community college instilled in me the process, although it may have helped to a certain extent in developing skills in researching, analyzing, and evaluating information. And although problem solving in the pipe trades was indeed an attribute worthy of possessing, I do not see it as being an essential building block to learning or increasing the process of critical thought.

In reply to her question I half jokingly said that the use of mind altering drugs of the late 60s were possibly the building blocks to my thought processes. After giving the question much more thought, I have concluded that my experimentation with mind altering substances were indeed my most influential teacher of critical thought during my life. It is not something that is easy to talk about, and even harder to explain. I find this subject is not one that is readily accepted in most social interactions and I am always hesitant to speak of it. I suppose the labels which mainstream society attached to these things have even left their mark in my psyche as well, and tend to cheapen the profound effect of the experience. But the truth is, those experiences in mind altering realities did change my life. They forever changed how I would relate to the world, and more importantly, in how I was to think about every single thing from that point until the present.

In the past I have tried to relay these feelings and changes I experienced in these altered states, but have found it most difficult given my limitations of language. However I am aware of many other individuals, who are much more intelligent than I, who have just as much difficulty relaying their same experiences with the altered states of consciousness. So I decided to let them tell their stories and relay their thoughts on how they were influenced by their introduction and use of these now illegal substances. Albert Hofmann is the Father of LSD, and this enlightening documentary done by Connie Littlefield is entitled "Hofmann's Potion". I hope the documentary says what I am not capable of saying, and somehow relays how this chemical alteration had so much to do with what I feel to be my awakening to the process of critical thinking.

Hofmann's Potion par Connie Littlefield, Office national du film du Canada

2Comments:

Blogger cile said...

What a great comprehensive history and evaluation of LSD in that video, Atu. "It's all on the inside just looking for you." I loved that! :-D It is interesting that the subject is so stigmatized and framed in such a way that it so hard to talk about. Even I had a bit of a hard time at the beginning listening with a serious ear and I'm no stranger to altered consciousness. It is especially interesting to realize the different roles the different players (Huxley, Dass and Leary) had in trying to bring the psychotropic option to civilization. Thanks for posting it.

Friday, 04 February, 2011  
Blogger Kimchifox said...

Totally surprised by your response, Brother Randy! I struggled with answering Annette's question as well for the same reason -- presumptuousness. (Wow! That's really a word!) I also feared humiliation from some "less tolerant" liberal friends. Afterall, how could someone with any inkling of conservative leanings, be a critical thinker? ;-) Having said that, I wonder if it is a basic insecurity of being that drives me to "think critically;" that is, not just rely on my intuition, but to look at an issue/problem from all angles before coming to a conclusion. Ohhh!!! How many time have I wished I relied on my intuition!

I must admit, there are times that I am challenged to see some things in the same light as you with regards to politics and world events. That "challenge" sometimes makes me feel inadequate, but I imagine that you probably feels the same about me from time to time. Nonetheless, I welcome the challenge, my Southern brother!!!

Saturday, 05 February, 2011  

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