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The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell (Thinking Classics) Paperback – International Edition, April 22, 2011
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The second part of the book, HEAVEN AND HELL--also originally published separately--Huxley introduces the idea that spiritual insight and personal revelation can also be achieved through the use of hallucinogens. (By the time he had written this volume, Huxley had added LSD to his psychedelic repertoire.) While just as articulately written and researched as the first volume, the idea that religious insight can be gained through drugs may offend some readers (theists and atheists alike), and the premise seems odd and contrived or expedient (was he trying to gain support of the clergy?) coming from a generally non-theist thinker-philosopher such as Huxley. Nevertheless, it is still thought-provoking reading for both professionals and amateurs interested in the positive potential of mind-altering drugs.
His conclusion that Mescalin and Lysergic Acid are relatively harmless for people in good health with an untroubled mind is probably objectionable today, especially among people who have never tried them. Looked at objectively, however, I wonder how this conclusion has stood the test of time. For myself, I believe he underestimated the long-term psychological challenges that cleansing those doors poses.
I remember something I read long ago from Philip K. Dick saying how difficult life is after you've seen God's face. The realization afterwards that you'd been forced back to a colorless, banal existence - a prison, if I recall the sense of what Dick wrote - must surely be considered one of the long-term psychological challenges that Huxley could not have fully appreciated when he wrote this book.
The feeling of being a prisoner in the normal world of perceptions might conceivably result in a hunger to return often to that `Antipodes of the mind' which, if felt too keenly, could cause permanent damage to be done to the mind's function as a `limiting valve.Read more ›
The philosopher C.D.Broad suggested that our brains are genetically programmed to screen perceptions, selecting only those that are necessary for survival. By doing so, humans close the doors to what Huxley calls "Mind-at-Large," thereby loosing access to the world of unconsciousness and wonder. Only through the use of chemical substances can a human being free himself from his inherited limitations, experience the realms of supernaturally brilliant visionary experiences, and obtain total freedom from the ego. In this new stage of consciousness, spatial and time relationships cease to exist, whilst intensity, profundity of significance are augmented. Our everyday reliance on language petrifies perception because "however expressive, symbols can never be the things they stand for." There is a need for a less exclusively verbal system of education and "an occasional trip through some chemical Door in the Wall!"
Huxley's work is highly controversial and paradoxical. How are we to develop a science of perception if our language is not equipped to express that same perception? How are we to explain the differences in reaction to mescalin intake, ranging from peaceful and mystical to schizophrenic behavior?Read more ›
Huxley touches on some good questions concerning psychoactive substances (and general "chemical vacations") and perception. I am intrigued with his idea of the brain acting as a sort of "reducing valve" for the whole of what could be perceived (experiencing "mind at large"). It is surely a quick read, but still packed full of philosophy, little tidbits, history and a myriad of other such though provoking ideas.
A great quote: "The need for frequent chemical vacations from intolerable selfhood and repulsive surroundings will undoubtedly remain." And Huxley does a wonderful job at explaining why this is so. This is a must read for anyone trying to understand the whole why and what for of hallucinogens, or for the aspiring philosopher, the general curious about life, mystery, etc. It is a necessary read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book made me love Aldous Huxley as an author..I wish I could speak with him today..Anyway, at first the book sort of comes off as incredibly complex, but it needs to be read... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christian Walldorff
Well-written and a fairly interesting topic, though rather repetitive. Good exploration of the mind.Published 1 month ago by Tawni
Amazing book! Stunning. Not many pages but the content is beyond imagination though it is based on a true experience. Great Author.Published 2 months ago by Buzzy
This is my Bible. Read. Beware. you might start hallucinating after reading. Do NOT drive after reading this book. No joke.Published 3 months ago by Sooraj Bhatia
On the surface the book is a narration of Aldous Huxley's experiences while under the influence of mescaline. Reading the book gave me insights into my own inner life. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Al Gorithm