As part of our “cognitive liberty 2020” effort, we are reviewing are previous work from 1999-2005 and developments during the intervening years. In the first phase of our work, we published many articles and essays in diverse forums, including weekly newspapers, national newspapers and magazines, and academic journals, including our own Journal of Cognitive Liberties.
We also presented testimony before state and federal legislative bodies, filed legal briefs in federal and state court (including the US Supreme Court), and were guests on radio shows such as the Art Bell Show.
Much has changed in the 15 years since we were last overtly active. Psychedelics have gone from underground to mainstream and marijuana is now legal in the majority of states. Artificial Intelligence, CRISPR, and various neurotechnologies have likewise gone from niche labs to multi-million dollar markets. Psychoinformatics and “surveillance capitalism” have gone from science fiction to everyday reality.
For 2020, with its connotations of clear vision and retrospection, we decided it was time to reflect on our earlier work; striving to evaluate and critique it with the advantage that the passage of time gives to one’s perspective. While some core aspects of our previous work are of lasting value, there are deep and perhaps unsolvable problems with “cognitive liberty” when writ large. As those who know our work are aware, the genesis of “cognitive liberty” was in psychedelic experience, and we believe that its application to psychedelics remains valid and sound. Things get far more difficult, however, when cognitive liberty is formulated as a fundamental right applicable across other domains or fact-patterns. Resolving (or succumbing to) these difficulties is where our ongoing work is centered.
We have selected the following documents from our earlier work as those which we believe remain meritorious and useful, whether because they successfully captured our thinking at the moment and are in some sense “founding documents,” or because we think they contain information that deserves additional attention in current times.
Key Cognitive Liberty Documents from 1999-2005
- Richard Glen Boire, “On Cognitive Liberty” (4-part essay)
In this 4-part series, published in the Journal of Cognitive Liberties from 1999 – 2003, Richard Glen Boire and Wrye Sententia introduced the term “cognitive liberty,” outlined why it was relevant at the turn of the millennium and sketched an initial vision for its scope.
Dr. Sententia examines how some developing technologies may positively or negatively affect cognitive liberty. (Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1013-221-228. doi: 10.1196/annals. 1305.014.
- Richard Glen Boire,“John Stuart Mill and the Liberty of Inebriation”
In this article, Richard Glen Boire examines the remarkable degree to which Mill’s historic essay was directly rooted in the right to inebriation. (The Independent Review, Vol. VII, No. 2. Fall 2002).
New “pharmacotherapy” medications threaten to take the “drug war” from external control to internal. (19 Jnl. of Law & Health 215-257 (2004-2005).)
- ccle, “An Important Affirmation of our Long-Term Vision“ (2005)
In 2005, in preparation for a hiatus from short-term interventions, we posted an affirmation of our vision and committed to directing our efforts and resources to the long-term.
- Richard Glen Boire, US Supreme Court Amicus Brief in U.S. v. Sell
In 2003, the US Government sought to forcibly drug Dr. Charles Thomas Sell, a St. Louis dentist whom the government asserted was not “competent to stand trial.” The ccle, joined in the defense of Dr. Sell, arguing that forcibly changing a defendant’s mental processes while he or she is being prosecuted by the Government is a violation of cognitive liberty, and asking the Court to expressly recognize the fundamental right to cognitive liberty.
- Richard Glen Boire, Psychedelic Medicine & the Law
Psychedelics (entheogens) have been used for millennia to treat the sick and dying. In the USA, prohibition slammed the door – making nearly all psychedelics illegal, even for medical use. The prohibition of the empathogen MDMA is chronicled and the medical necessity defense is outlined.
- Wrye Sententia, R.U. Sirius in Conversation with Wrye Sententia
Two mutants discuss cognitive liberty in 2004.
During our first operations phase from 1999-2005, we posted an annual listing of our major achievements.
Key ccle Projects from 1999-2005
During our first operational phase, we designed and operated over almost two dozen special projects focused on elaborating and protecting cognitive liberty. The most important projects are listed below.
- Alexander Shulgin & ccle, Ask Dr. Shulgin
Before the mainstream interest in psychedelics, accurate and expert information about psychedelics was hard to come by. We worked with our friend and advisor Dr. Sasha Shulgin to provide those interested in psychedelics with information they could depend on.
With the intent of developing and spreading the cognitive liberty meme, we developed a comprehensive class syllabus, along with a reading package, to interested post-secondary professors and students.
Since time immemorial humans have used entheogens (aka psychedelics) and other psychoactive drugs as integral tools for achieving insight and epistemological understanding, and to enter modes of thought conducive to physical and psychological healing. At a time when psychedelics were still vilified, the ccle operated our Entheogen and Drug Policy Project to encourage public education and policy reform with regard to psychedelics and other psychoactive drugs.
Important Commentary & Contributions By Others
As time goes on, more and more legal scholars and policy makers are working to develop the boundaries and contours of “cognitive liberty”. This is just a handful of these efforts. Please search the academic press and law reviews for the latest.
- JC Bublitz, My Mind is Mine!? Cognitive Liberty as a Legal Concept
- Marcello Lenca & Roberto Adorno, Towards new Human Rights in the Age of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology
- Paolo Sommaggio, Marco Mazzocca, Alessio Gerola, Fulvia Ferro, Cognitive liberty. A First Step Towards a Human Neuro-rights Declaration
- Andrea Lavazza, Freedom of Thought and Mental Integrity: The Moral Requirements for Any Neural Prosthesis