I am writing my thesis on the experience of hearing voices and I am looking at it from an Interpretative Phenomenoogical (methodology IPA) perspective, so I am also reading a lot of philosophy at the moment.

Methodologically,the epistemological stance of both myself and the IPA method, is that there is no objective reality and that we set out to explore it and that the researcher has a part to play, as long as they are aware what they are bringing to the table.

But as I am reading about ontology and the worldview, I am wondering, in terms of hearing voices, or other hallucinations, how does philosophy view these instances, if we take the stance that ontology questions the very basics of what is true/what exists.

And also I am wondering in terms of the shift that happens, in the sense of self of someone, or their identity, or their Being, when something big like this happens. How would philosophically this be approached? I read a bit of Zizek lately and he talks about an Event, that shatters our familiar frame, our worldview, and our sense of ourselves in it.

What do you guys think of all that?

  • They aren't exact duplicates, but you might find these questions on dreams relevant: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/17518/… philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/2716/… philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/20049/… – Chris Sunami supports Monica Jan 21 '15 at 21:19
  • 1
    Personally, I might begin way back with William James' 'Religious Experience' (perhaps ignoring any spiritual asides) and try to trace out a thread from there. It really is odd how too little sleep, a terrible accident, a moment of deja vu, prolonged stress, moments of insight, etc. can all produce a feeling of altered reality. – dwn Jan 21 '15 at 22:55
  • Since you say there is no objective reality, you should also say that there is no fact of the matter about what reply anybody has given you, so why bother asking? – alanf Jan 22 '15 at 12:43
  • i hear voices when stoned, and hear "voices" when not. if you want to talk about it, given that i have an interest in philosophy, then hmu in chat :) – user6917 Jan 22 '15 at 23:56
  • Hi Mathematician, how do I talk to you in chat? Can't find the way. – Tasitsa Jan 23 '15 at 11:24

One perspective that one could take is that of Kant; who in a sense is an idealist; in his philosophy it is the mind (in the form of Intuition) that orders the world so that it is intelligible to the Intellect; the Intuition orders the sensory manifold for us, and we see ths the world, in its temporal, spatial and quantitive qualities; one shouldn't here think of quantity here as pure number; but what is quantifiable - ie colour, mass, weight; things that have an identity - the person, you or me; this chair or another; what is then given to the Intellect then forms our Understanding.

The Intellect, the Intuition and the Understanding are not to be taken in their usual senses; they operate in a sense below the conscious and unconscious; though one should not be so schematic or static; its also fused and penetrated by it; and one should see it as in a kind of dynamic equilibrium.

It's then a safe proposition, that say taking psychotropic drugs disrupts the Intuition (this isn't intuition in the usual and conventional form, but a quality of the mind that is defined by what I've written above); therefore one gets a disruption of time, space and quantity; as it is this that forms the basis of our Understanding; our Understanding is disrupted - so disruptions in causality, sense and so on; space is broken up, and so it time; I hear voices when no one is there to speak, or see things that are not there; or certain senses are magnified; the Redness of the World is much Redder, and provokes the intensity of attention that one may have in the innocence of a child when it first sets out to 'investigate' and 'see' the world.

This too, ties up with the dream world, which has an affinity with hallucinatory; and one might suppose in this Kantian description; that the dynamic equilibrium collapses in itself; but in a sleep state when it cannot frighten or scare the conscious mind or self.

But in this picture, how to take in a 'psychotic' state that hears voices or has hallucinations; I can only suppose that somehow, by the impact of the world or its lack; in its physical, social or libidinal state disrupts the dynamic equilbrium of the Intuition-Intellect-Understanding triad.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer and thank you to everyone else for their comments (apart from the one who pointed out the obvious why am I even asking, I am asking so we can explore it together, do I truly have to explain this in a site that deals with philosophical questions?). I am going to have a look at William James, and even though these terms confuse me a bit, I will try to get my head around Kant too. I dont know if anyone knows about Hegel, I certainly dont know him, but Zizek seems to like him. And talk about the Absolute. 'Take away the illusion and you loose the truth itself' – Tasitsa Jan 23 '15 at 11:20
  • @Tasitsa: you're welcome; I'm not an expert on Kant, and his system is quite complex, so I may have some of the terms mixed up; but the usage is roughly correct. Good luck with Hegel/Zizek; one can think of Kants noumena, in a sense as Hegels Absolute; but whereas Kant doesn't use his noumena for anything, apart from positing as the ground for the phenomenal world; Hegels Absolute is key to his philosophy, as 'World Spirit' etc. – Mozibur Ullah Jan 23 '15 at 11:56

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.