Julian looking at an African sculpture, overlooked by a portrait of his grandfather

Can we develop an evolutionary ethics? Can we derive an Ought from the Is of natural processes? People have certainly tried.

The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus was the prophet of evolutionary theory (his Essay on Population inspired both Darwin and Russell Wallace to arrive at their theories). Malthus observed the natural law of population working on all animals, including humans, and suggested this natural law produced higher more virtuous types, capable of insight and self-control, while killing off lesser types. His philosophy was a biological morality:

the various impressions and excitements which man receives through life may be considered as…


This week I was lucky enough to get a COVID vaccine. I was given it in the Science Museum, appropriately enough, about 20 metres from an exhibition showing the implements that Edward Jenner used to dispense the first ever vaccine in 1796. Nothing did more to radically extend human life expectancy in the 20th century than vaccines.

While recovering from the mild flu effects of the vaccine, I spent the day reading about perhaps the most famous advocate of radical life extension — Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

He’s not the richest entrepreneur in Silicon Valley (he’s worth a mere…


I’m going to tell you something which may make some of you laugh at me. That’s OK, we all need a laugh these days. I believe in astrology. There, I said it. My name’s Jules and I’m a secret astrology believer. I got into astrology when I was 23, messed up, chronically single, and desperate to know how my life would pan out. I would sit at my desk in my first job, which I hated and longed to leave, and peruse about five different astrology websites a day. If one site was a bit downbeat, I would read four…


The most influential thinkers of the last half century are an obscure group of French philosophers — Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and possibly others like Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes. They are The Postmodernistsduh-duh DUHHHHH! — and they pose a fundamental threat to western civilization — to free speech, reason, science, to the idea of the individual and universal values, to liberalism itself.

At least, that’s the view put forward by digital mullahs in the Culture Wars like Jordan Peterson, James Lindsay and Stephen Hicks. Peterson, in this 2017 talk, is so angry he can barely speak, but…


Abraham Maslow was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, who helped create humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, and the human potential movement. He believed he’d forged an empirical spirituality which would save the world from the modern crisis of valuelessness and meaninglessness. He was an early example of the psychologist-as-moral-prophet, like Jordan Peterson, John Vervaeke, Brene Brown, Sam Harris, Ken Wilber, Roland Griffiths or Jonathan Haidt. But, as I will show, there are major logical and ethical problems with his attempt to create an empirical spirituality.

Maslow was born in Brooklyn in 1908, the child of Jewish…


In 1841, a young Danish intellectual called Soren Kierkegaard abruptly broke off his engagement to his fiancé, the beautiful Regine Olsen. They were very much in love. So why break up? Biographers speculated it was because Kierkegaard didn’t think he would make a good husband and father. Perhaps he needed to be a bachelor to pursue his true calling as an outcast philosopher. Either way, he brooded over the break-up for the rest of his lonely life, and it fed into many of his books.

In Repetition, for example, he discusses how to break up with a lover, and decides…


The biggest company in the psychedelic market is Compass Pathways. It has a billion-dollar valuation on the stock market, and is set to be the 800-pound gorilla in the psychedelic jungle. It’s using its money to do a large-scale test of magic mushroom therapy for depression, and to train up a large cadre of psychedelic therapists.

It is funded by a fund called ATAI Life Sciences, which is run by an investor called Christian Angermayer, who is an interesting fellow (check out this interview). He has statues of various roman emperors in his home, as well as a statue of…


Last week, we looked at how Trump strategists — particularly Roger Stone and General Michael Flynn — mobilised the world of conspiracy culture to attack the Clinton campaign and win the 2016 US presidential election. In this article, we look at how the far-right tapped into the world of New Age conspirituality.

I’m going to focus, in this story, on one well-known New Age influencer, called Sacha Stone.


Does it matter if Qanon emerged organically from the infosphere, or if it was synthesized in a lab as a weaponized political meme? I don’t know. I don’t know if we can ever find out exactly who was behind Qanon. When people have posted about it all being a psyop (psychological operation) led by shadowy intelligence agents, it’s sounded like, well, a conspiracy theory.

But I want to explore that theory, with an open mind, in this post and a subsequent one. We will explore the overlap between New Age conspirituality, intelligence communities, and right-wing illiberal politics — and how…


I’m doing a talk on this topic at the Psychedelic Society UK, online, on March 3.

When it emerged that the ‘Qanon shaman’, Jake Angeli, was not only the poster-boy for the Trumpist insurrection, but also a vocal promoter of psychedelic therapy, it provoked consternation among the psychedelic community. How could a psychonaut support Trump, and fall for an authoritarian and quasi-fascist conspiracy theory like Qanon?

The disbelief stemmed from a widespread conviction — and some evidence — that psychedelics make you more liberal, more open-minded, more connected, more ‘relaxed in your beliefs’, and less prone to authoritarian thinking, extremism…

Jules Evans

Author of Philosophy for Life and other books. Honorary fellow, Centre for the History of the Emotions. www.philosophyforlife.org.

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