Penlee Coach House

To Soar Angelic: Humphry Davy and Psychedelic Sentience with Peter Sjöstedt-H


Peter Sjöstedt-H will be discussing Humphry Davy’s use and conjectures on nitrous oxide, placing it within emerging aspects of the Philosophy of Mind and Metaphysics.

‘To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic’ – penned just before the 1960s, this was the rhyme that coined the word ‘psychedelic’ and inaugurated its scene. Yet one and a half centuries earlier, Penzance’s great ‘chemical philosopher’, Humphry Davy had self-experimented with a psychedelic compound that had flung him to heights of consciousness ethereal and sublime.

This talk and Q&A session will look at Davy’s heavy, frequent intake of nitrous oxide and the philosophical conjectures to which it lifted him. This will be viewed from the broader question as to whether psychedelic experience can offer genuine insights into the nature of the mind and of reality – or whether such sentience is but a flight of fancy.