Robert Anton Wilson

How to describe? Where to begin?

Timothy Leary described Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) as a “scientific philosopher” (among other things). I would also bracket RAW with anti-metaphysical philosophers (eg Wittgenstein, Rorty, etc). By anti-metaphysical, I mean arguing against making claims about what things really are (as opposed to how we see them).

But I don’t mean anti-metaphysical in the sense of anti-“spiritual”. In fact, you could argue that unlike most scientific philosophers, RAW’s output has a strong salvific (or “soteriological”) aspect – an implicit (and sometimes very explicit) purpose of alleviating suffering and/or triggering “awakening”.

“The Man’s either a genius or Jesus…”

(Sounds, a UK music mag, on RAW)

In that respect, his approach sometimes looks more like Eastern philosophy, with its nondual enlightenment traditions. By contrast, modern western philosophy, with a focus more on seeking ‘truth’ as a specialised academic pursuit, has tended not to have goals of liberation – that’s been left to monks, weirdos and meditation retreats. RAW seemed far ahead of the game on this (and that’s before we even get to the techno-futurism and extropian trajectories).

The anti-metaphysical and salvific aspects come together in sublime ways in RAW’s semantics (both in his use of, and in his writings about, language). And of course the social and political implications ripple out in ways that seem more important than ever…

So, these are the things I’m going to be looking at – and appreciating – on this blog. Thanks for reading!

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