Reconciling Mystical Experiences with Naturalistic Psychedelic Science: Reply to Sanders and Zijlmans

This commentary (2021) offers a rebuttal to the opinion piece on “Moving Past Mysticism in Psychedelic Science” by Sanders and Zijlmans and argues against the notion of demystifying psychedelic experiences or dismissing mystical experiences from the scope of empirical inquiry. Given that all experiences are ineffable by the nature of their subjectivity, it is argued that the epistemic gap between subjective and objective viewpoints of consciousness is a question of philosophy and that it is not the role of science to decide whether metaphysical insights related to mystical experiences are compatible with their particular worldview.


“In a recent Viewpoint, Sanders and Zijlmans call for the demystification of psychedelic science. However, they ignore the subjective aspect of psychedelic experiences. For the subject, mystical experiences are felt as real and can yield personally meaningful insights. It is a philosophical question whether they are true.”

Author: Jussi Jylkkä

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