The metaphysics of laughing gas




Laughing gas, nitrous oxide, NOS… whatever you like to call it, this gas gets a lot of bad press in the contemporary world. Like all things, with incorrect use it indeed can be dangerous. However, whether it be in the dentist’s chair, in the hospital after a broken bone or while giving birth, or at a music festival with a balloon in hand, the experiences afforded by laughing gas are familiar to most of us. The American philosopher, William James, was also familiar. He too saw “the ultimate secret and explanation of existence… revealed.” However, he came to view this revelation as horrifying, writes Jonathan Bricklin.  William James, the father of transpersonal psychology, took laughing gas, aka nitrous oxide, in search of a revelation. According to Benjamin Paul Blood, the author of “The Anaesthetic Revelation and the Gist of Philosophy,” the gas provided a “fixed impression” that “the ultimate secret…

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