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Cognitive liberty is the freedom of sovereign control over one's own consciousness. It is an extension of the concepts of freedom of thought and self-ownership.
The American nonprofit Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, founded and directed by neuroethicist Dr. Wrye Sententia and legal theorist Richard Glen Boire, defines cognitive liberty as "the right of each individual to think independently and autonomously, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought."
An individual who enjoys cognitive liberty is free to alter the state of their consciousness using any method they choose, including but not limited to meditation, yoga, psychoactive drugs, prayer and so on. Such an individual would also never be forced to change their consciousness against their will. So, for example, a child who is forced to consume Ritalin as a prerequisite for attending public school, does not enjoy cognitive liberty, nor does an individual who is forced to take anti-psychotics in order to be fit to stand trial, nor an individual who faces criminal charges and punishment for changing the state of their consciousness by consuming a mind-altering drug.
We're playing with half a deck as long as we tolerate that the cardinals of government and science should dictate where human curiosity can legitimately send its attention and where it can not. It's an essentially preposterous situation. It is essentially a civil rights issue, because what we're talking about here is the repression of a religious sensibility. In fact, not a religious sensibility, the religious sensibility.
American psychologist and writer Timothy Leary has summarized this concept by postulating two “new commandments for the molecular age”:
- Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow men.
- Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from changing his or her own consciousness.