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The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience Paperback – 7 Nov 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (7 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199252939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199252930
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

... a great book ... it makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of consciousness ... The strength of the book lies in the rich descriptions and analyses of the ayahuasca experience ... deserves to be widely read by those who are seriously interested in understanding the nature of consciousness and reality. (Journal of Scientific Exploration)

The experiences described in this book are quite literally mind-blowing and the cosmic vision it describes will be of great interest to TC readers. Highly recommended. (The Cauldron)

It deserves to be read by anyone interested in religion, mysticism, and conciousness - and who is not? it should be required reading for psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists, because it shows how absurdly simplistic are the biochemical, darwinianm and genetic models now dominating mind-science. (John Horgan, Maps Vol XIII 2003)

Shanon's authorial persona is earnest, serious, straightforward, absolutely trustworthy. Antipodes is suffused with a sense of genuine adventure. (John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism)

Shanon's pioneering work (Thomas B Roberts, Northern Illinois University)

About the Author

Benny Shanon is a Professor of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holder of the Mandel Chair in Cognition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew consumed throughout the entire upper Amazon region. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Science Guy on 1 April 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most compelling books on altered states I’ve read, up there with James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, Huxley’s Doors of Perception (to which Shanon’s title alludes) and PIHKAL and TIKHAL by Ann and Alexander Shulgin. Unlike, say, the psychedelic performance artist Terence McKenna (whose writings I enjoy), Shanon’s authorial persona is earnest, serious, straightforward, absolutely trustworthy. He is a true scientist, dedicated to precise reporting and careful analysis rather than to entertainment. Not that his book is dull. Far from it. Antipodes is suffused with a sense of genuine adventure, of a kind that has virtually vanished from modern science. Plunging into the depths of his own ayahuasca-intoxicated mind, Shanon resembles one of the great Victorian explorers trekking into uncharted wilds, maintaining his equilibrium and wits even in the face of the most fantastical sights. Like Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle, Shanon is concerned primarily with collecting and categorizing data rather than theorizing. At the end of his book, however, he ponders his and others’ experiences and draws some tentative conclusions. Ayahuasca, he asserts, can be both truth-revealing and "the worst of liars." Shanon remains skeptical of the occult claims often made for the drug—that it puts us in touch with spirits, makes us clairvoyant, lets us leave our bodies and travel astrally. He suggests that ayahuasca visions are products of the imagination rather than glimpses of a supernatural realm existing in parallel to our own. This proposal will sound reductionistic to some, but it is actually quite provocative, and raises many questions requiring further consideration.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Willhum on 12 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Antipodes of the Mind is an important bit of work from Israeli academic Benny Shannon... However, two important things to bear in mind. (i) Firstly, the general tone and structure of this is arguably quite dry - those looking for a juicy ayahuasca narrative that they can sink their teeth into might be a little disappointed. (ii) Secondly, it does tend to squeeze ayahuasca experiences into Western academic paradigms - this is both its strength and weakness. It places ayahuasca in a context some Westerners might understand, on the other hand, one is sometimes left with the impression that something gets lost in translation. However, if your happy to plough through some rather dry sections you should enjoy this quiet and far ranging classic. For those interested in Ayahuasca other good books (perhaps not suffering from the shortcomings listed above) - 'The Wizard of the Upper Amazon', 'Yage: the new Purgatory', 'The Jaguar that Roams the Mind' are all great reads each with something special to offer interested readers (all on Amazon.co.uk)... The soon to be released 'Singing to the Plants' looks like being one to get hold of.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Noam Chomsky used to say that the culture promotes and hypes the box-carts (people who can't think outside of the box) by reviewing their books very loudly in all the posh newspapers and magazines and the said box-carts get invited on the posh radio shows to talk about their book. This is why when professors like Steve Pinker or Richard Dawkins publish yet another 400 page summery of what we already know, we all hear about it! I happen to be a great admirer of Pinker and Dawkins has his moments, however, these thinkers are mere box-carts who stick rigidly to the peer review web. This is why when we read these experts, we have that feeling that there is something more to life that what they are saying because our experience doesn't exactly match what these thinkers are telling us.

If you sort of agree with this somewhat paranoid picture, then I guess you will find Benny Shanon's massive book interesting, if not earth shatteringly startling. As far as I can tell, Shanon has never been invited on Radio 4, though he was lampooned in the supposed liberal Guardian newspaper. I won't go in to an in-depth review of this book. Suffice it so say that Shanon is just as smart as Pinker and Dawkin's and Ayahuasca seems to open a doorway an an interesting place and what is in this book should be making headlines in all the worlds press, ten feet tall headlines. The fact that it isn't and Pinker's and Dawkins' books are again riding high sort of proves Chomsky right for a change!!!

I cannot express my gratitude for people like Shanon for thinking outside of the box! Thank you so much!
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Format: Paperback
I read this book (well, most of it anyway) while drinking ayahuasca ceremonially at a retreat in Peru. It was probably the most important book I read there. It struck me as serious, technical, thorough, knowledgeable, vast in scale, and not least way above my level academically. As a layperson, I'm sure I didn't understand half of what I read, but the small portion I did understand kept me captivated for hundreds of pages. I read it for pleasure. It's a 400+ page scientific paper for goodness' sake. Shanon's intelligent, scholarly approach was a breath of fresh air in a social atmosphere plagued by spirituality and mysticism -- even if Shanon does take that kind of thing into consideration as well.

As an interested non-specialist I hugely enjoyed this book and think I will return to it many times.
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