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Topics - Olive

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Hello everyone. Recent discussions on the forum here and some other material I've come across have had me thinking about the question of Meta-Ethics. Do Good and Evil have any objective reality? Can universal claims be made about them? Moral Realism is the position that they do, and we can. Moral Relativism is the position that they do not, and we can not. In this thread, I am going to be attempting to argue for Moral Realism - but I encourage you to disagree! The point of this writing is to find the limitation and benefits of the paradigm. By the way, this is a super long thread so I don't expect anyone to respond to every point mentioned here.

Descriptive Moral Relativism is not a useful position here. Merely describing that people disagree about Moral Law and justice, does not say anything about the ultimate nature of Good and Evil, and the judgement about their objective existence.

I'm going to open us up with an excerpt from a lecture on the topic I recently listened to. It does not represent the full position outlined in this post, but it is a useful piece to respond to - and it sufficiently introduces us to the types of questions we will be asking here today.

Quote from: Illuminist Pythagoras - 1
Let's assume that a moral relativist is tied up, and tortured, until he can come up with a reason why his torturer should stop torturing him. If there are no moral absolutes, then of course he can't object to to being tortured. If he admits the torture is wrong, then he won't be tortured. At first, he'll be prideful, and will try to resist giving in and screaming out in pain. But in time, he will begin to scream. Soon afterward, he will beg his torturer to stop. But why? His pain is only subjective. But of course for him - it's the only thing that is real. Nothing else exists, but his mental experience of pain. And he wants it to stop. But why? Why should a person not value pain over pleasure? Isn't it all relative? Aren't all values merely the creation of humans? So why doesn't he choose to value pain over pleasure? If he did this everything would be fine. But he can't. Pain is bad. It just is. It is a fact of existence. Could it be otherwise? It doesn't matter. It is what it is. It is like this for everyone. Suddenly he understands: the torturer wouldn't want to be tortured either. A world in which torture is permissible, is a world in which the torturer could be tortured. The torturer doesn't want to be tortured. Therefore the torturer doesn't want to live in a world where torture is permissible. Therefore the torturer doesn't want to torture. Because to desire to torture is to desire to be in a world in which torture is permissible. But someone might object here and ask "Well, couldn't the torturer desire to live in a world in which it's permissable for him to torture others, but not permissible for other to torture him?"

But is such a world possible? More importantly, is this such a world? It is not. In this world, when a person violates moral law - that person incurs the wrath of others. ... So if someone wants to steal, without being stolen from; or if someone wants to murder, without being murdered; or if someone wants to do to others, what he wouldn't want done to him; he will need an army. He will need a monopoly on the use of violence. In other words, it is necessary for a government to exist. And it is necessary for him to run that government. He has to become a dictator. But he himself would not want to live under a dictator such as himself. Neither would anyone else. Everyone else would resist living under such a dictatorship. Maybe for a while, he will manage to hold onto power. But the longer he holds on, the more the pressure builds. And the more the pressure builds, the worse it will be when it explodes. I don't subscribe to any simplistic notions of karma. But every action, creates an equal and opposite reaction. Morality, is the study of cause and effect. It's interesting that many moral nihilists appeal to Hume's argument that you can never derive an Ought from an Is. Of course Hume also argued against causality in the same way. You can never prove causation based on correlation. And yet, every Ought is derived from an Is. Just as every fact, is derived from a cause. Reality is unconcerned with our inability to comprehend it's inner workings. The law of causality, in moral law, continue to govern the world in which we live. Whether or not you can provide a mathematical proof for the Pythagorean theorem, it still holds true. Whether or not scientists can prove what caused the big bang - here we are. In the same way, meta-ethical arguments are ultimately irrelevant to the existence of moral law.

Moral nihilists will sometimes say that Morality isn't objective, because it is referential. I say, it is objective because it is referential. Morality refers to objective truths about the conscious experience of suffering and well-being. If it weren't referential, it would be arbitrary. If someone pokes you in the eye with a sharp stick, the wrongness of the action is found in the reference to the pain it causes you, and the loss of vision that results. So, what? How does that prove moral relativism. Then I've also heard the stupid argument that morality is contingent. "It's only bad to poked in the eye with a sharp stick, IF you don't WANT to be poked in the eye with a sharp stick." This is simply idiotic. Who wants that? But I'm going to try very hard to play devil's advocate here. They might respond that, they don't want their eye poked with a sharp stick. But if I say that it's wrong for them to poke someone else's eye with a sharp stick, I'm wrong. They'll admit that poking someone else's eye out with a sharp stick will cause pain. The pain may be a fact. But this is merely a descriptive statement. And a descriptive statement cannot prove a prescriptive statement. But is this really so?

This is an interesting approach to arguing for Moral Realism. He is essentially invoking the Principle of Sufficient Reason and applying it to the moral sphere. The implicit claim is that any who desires to do harm or wrong to another, desires it only because they are ignorant of the consequences that their action would have, due to the inevitable reaction from this immutable sphere of causality. That due to the interpenetrated nature of all things, Justice is done to those who would transgress moral law, à la Ralph Waldo Emerson who prefers to say it more romantically:

Quote from: Ralph Waldo Emerson - 2
The same dualism underlies the nature and condition man. Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath it sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something. If riches increase, they are increased that use them. If the gatherer gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions. The waves of the sea do not more speedily seek a level from their loftiest tossing that the varieties of condition tend to equalize themselves. There is always some leveling circumstance that puts down the overbearing, the strong, the rich, the fortunate, substantially on the same ground with all others. Is a man too strong and fierce for society and by temper and position a bad citizen, - a morose ruffian, with a dash of the pirate in him? - nature sends him a troop of pretty sons and daughters who are getting along in the dame's classes at the village school, and love and fear for for them smooths his grim scowl to courtesy. Thus she contrives intenerate the granite and the felspar, takes the boar out and puts the lamb in and keeps her balance true.

The farmer imagines power and place are fine things. But the President has paid dear for White House. It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his manly attributes. To preserve for a short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world, he is content to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne. Or do men desire the more substantial and permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands, has the responsibility of overlooking. With every influx of light comes new danger. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light, and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction, by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. He must hate father and mother, wife and child. Has he all that the world loves and admires and covets? - he must cast behind him their admiration and afflict them by faithfulness to his truth and become a byword and a hissing.

This Law writes the laws of the cities and nations. it will not be baulked of its end in the smallest iota. It is in vain to build or plot or combine against it. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Res nolunt diu male administrari.

And while this is a beautiful sentiment, I think that it is only a matter of argumentative convenience that we should insist on the efficacy of this hidden code that eventually serves it's wrath on all that oppose it. For while it is well known that each action we take every carries forth it's karma into the future, it is equally well known that the one who issues forth cruelty and violence is not always subject to the consequences of those actions. A government is not necessary for this. All that is needed is a slight imbalance in power relations between groups of people for one person to be able to exercise his will to manipulate others without being accountable for his actions. But even this is an unnecessary argument, because even if we assume that by supreme justice each person is led to this divine mean of balance before death - we must admit that the comfort in this is only based on the assumption that some amount of good repaid in whatever form, can account for and make up for the wrongs and suffering that one has been subjected to. And I don't believe that it ever really can. Nothing can ever undo the damage, or free you from all effects of it. The fact that you are no longer subject to evil does not erase the experience that existed in those moments. And that exists in every passing moment around us. Therefore every good moment is but a consolation for the reality of evil and suffering. (Just to be clear, this can also be reversed. Every moment of suffering is just a counterpoint to those of good experiences, and does not undo them in any sense.)

Therefore we should not place so much focus on the existence of Good and Evil in terms of obligation to our fellow man and even to ourselves, although convincing ethical arguments can be made in this spirit. Neither should we focus on the immutability of a divine law to enforce Good and Evil. Instead the fracture point between Moral Realism and Moral Relativism lies solely on the reality of Good and Evil as existing principles or phenomena of consciousness. But of course in order to argue along these lines it is necessary to attempt to define what we are talking about. For one cannot say that something exists without first describing or demonstrating what is meant to exist. It is always possible to squabble in the details of such definitions, but I think the description I am about to offer is sophisticated enough to withstand most such detours and provide a basic framework for addressing what is meant, when we speak of Good and Evil.

What I consider to be the four pillars of Evil are Torture, Imprisonment, Enslavement, and Rape. We can add other words to this definition, such as ignorance, falsehood, deprivation or greed. But it should be acknowledged that any of these others are on some level contained within the four. These four are not actually separate things, but different aspects of that which is truly one and the same. It can be called suffering - or more coldly non-consensuality.

We can contrast these against the four orbs of Good, which are Freedom, Bliss, Peace, and Truth - with a tentative fifth, which is Love, which is not directly reducible to the other four, but also does not fully exist without them. Then there are many smaller ornaments as well such as creativity, which deserves mention but is on a more subtle level part of Freedom, Bliss, and Truth. These might at first seem to be different, but again they point in the same direction, which is hard to name, but for now we can say that they point towards liberation.

I will attempt to further flesh out and expand any of these words upon request (capital words), but for now I trust the reader to sufficiently understand what is being pointed at by each concept and the distinction between these two categories.

Now let us attempt to test this definition with a stress case. Let us say that a man submits himself to be Tortured intentionally. We can say either that to some degree he enjoys it, or that he does not at all enjoy it but has soberly decided to exercise his Freedom in order to experience it anyways and learn about the depths of suffering. The conflict is that by my definition, Torture is an evil, yet Freedom is a good, and both are present in this scenario. I would say to this that the man who exercises his freedom to experience something has done it by choice and therefore is not Imprisoned by the action. But, the reply comes, we are not discussing the applicability of Imprisonment to this situation, but Torture, and therefore you have avoided the question. But this is where the singleness of Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Suffering/Non-Consensuality really shows its face - because if one contemplates this further he will realize that Torture is not possible without Imprisonment. Because the very nature of Torture is such that it is not Torture unless the victim wants to escape from it, or in the contrapositive, that he doesn't want it to continue. I have previously posted a succinct thought experiment on this forum, one that is very similar to the one raised in the first quote I started us off with, that demonstrates the universal nature of this reality. I would like to repeat it to you now, in its fuller context.

Quote from: Olive Fontaine  - 3
[...]But if we look at evil/bad/suffering - we do not see the same ambivalence. Pain is very real - almost too real. We all experience it, and it is not subjective. We do not have to craft the negative meaning for ourselves in our experiences of pain, it asserts itself. There is no other way to react to it. Pain certainly has a positive existence, characterized by its presence in varying degrees of intensity, duration, location. This is very easy to prove, as we can take a person (any person) and subject them to suffering. Then we can increase the level of suffering until it is far beyond their degree of tolerance. At this point, they will admit two things readily:

1. Suffering is real.

2. Freedom is desired. (To move away from that suffering.)

And since Torture is by definition the extreme application of pain well beyond a person's capacity for tolerating it, this means that Torture has not truly been performed if the subject does not desire to escape from it, or in other words consents to it. And if he does not consent to it, and Torture is truly performed on him, then he is also Imprisoned, because he is unable to escape that Torture. (Challenge yourself to relate the 4 concepts I mentioned together this concretely in your mind. Understand for yourself how Rape is not possible without Torture, Imprisonment, and some level of Enslavement. How Enslavement is not possible without Rape and Imprisonment, and also a degree of Torture.)

Therefore the requested torture would be permissible on the grounds that the man who volunteers for it always has the ability to opt out of the torturing. The reason we cannot be satisfied with a one time consent with no additional opt-out, is because the man who requests the torture while at sober peace is a different being under different circumstances than that same man under agonizing pain far beyond what he can handle - and therefore we cannot allow the first man to speak for the second, or to rob the second man of his consent on behalf of the first. But what if we say that the Man desperately volunteers for a Torture experience from which he cannot escape. He consents to this totally and will even pay for it, ensure it, sign the contract, whatever you like. What then? Is it a denial of his Freedom to not allow this experience? Does the coerced torturer commit evil by accepting money for the job? Do you on some level Imprison him, by preventing him from fulfilling his wish? This is a very grey situation indeed, and it can possibly be argued either way that he should be allowed his freedom, or that he should be spared from the non-consensual experience. However, this is a prudent time to remind the reader that the existence of shades of grey does not indicate the nonexistence of white or black. We must remember that we are speaking on the fringe of this topic, and know that not all ethical problems can be solved in the abstract. Perhaps there are some that are so entangled they cannot be solved even in principle, or at any rate, to a degree that a human can understand. Sometimes judgments must be made on imperfect knowledge and imperfect understanding. This is life. However, in these situations I would apply the principle of Compassion. The principle of Compassion urges that one should help free his fellow man from pain and Suffering, but it does not require that you would give him pleasure instead. For pleasure in itself is not in fact what is Good; what is Good is Liberation - liberation from Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Suffering/Non-Consensuality, and to liberate others from it, so that they may know and instantiate Freedom/Bliss/Peace/Truth and Love.

That being said, I'm going to reiterate now that the recognition of Good or Evil is not an obligation by divine law to action. However, Compassion that is written on the heart is and does become an obligation for those that truly understand the reality of Evil. Ultimately it is not only loving but also Wise, because it brings about the betterment of the human realm, it reconciles the spirit with the material and is the indication of a Son of God. If one is intimately familiar with the depths and nature of Evil, or Suffering, they will most likely want to stop it - even if they are only concerned about their own self interest. Because they would understand that Suffering always spreads and causes even greater Suffering for others.

e.g. A person who is fine, but then witnesses someone under intense Suffering, they too will Suffer. Perhaps greatly so. And even if only subtly, they carry the karmic influence (causal ramifications) of that event with them and continue to propagate negativity, unless they are skilled in techniques that deal with this influence such as Magic or Equanimity, or else Psychopathy and Sadomasochism.

e.g. A person who causes Suffering to another robs them of their mental well-being, and earns the wrath of both their victim and their loved ones, who are all grieved and filled with enmity about the consequences of your action, and may have to go to some terrible lengths themselves in order to survive because of what you've done.

And as stated earlier, nothing will ever redeem or wash clean or make up for this Suffering, even the Good which is its counterpoint that seeks to alleviate it. The Good can not redeem the Evil, the Evil does not destroy the Good. Because of this, every act of Evil contributes to the misery of the human race, forevermore. If anyone has any interest in not being a miserable creature thrust into a hateful world of Torture and damnation, with no possible solution to their situation except annihilation at death - then Reason will also reveal to them that they have an interest in promoting the uprightness of themselves, their communities, and their race as a whole. This does not mean that other motivations are not possible, but they are quite rare because almost everyone cares for themselves above all others, and seek to preserve themselves, and from this alone can spring the compulsion which births the practical Moral Law.

But again, this does not mean that there is truly justice in this reality. That all evils will be repaid in full, and every good deed taken account of. No, we have said already that this is impossible anyways. And therefore he whose motivations are such that he wants power for himself at any cost will by a careful study of this world realize that beyond the natural consequences of any Evil he may seek to commit in pursuit of his ambition, there is no Supernatural power that will punish him. And there is no divine force that will step in and save his enemies from being ruthlessly slaughtered like dogs if they do not have the power to defend themselves. The Law of this world is Might. The sad history of human affairs as well as evolutionary biology confirms that nature adores the vicious and the wicked, and rewards the strong. The very nature of embodiment in this realm is that Evil can never be fully avoided, because beings that exist here have very limited control over their circumstances. And these circumstances invariably lead, at the very least, to physical pain which they did not consent to and which they cannot escape from - and in many cases, the Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape of their consciousness at almost all levels (Physically, Socially, Emotionally, Romantically, Mentally, Spiritually, etc). This transgression against the sovereignty of one's own being, is what we have defined as Evil, or Non-consensuality. (Not just being made to finish your dinner without consent, either. Up to and including the complete ruination of your own being on many or all levels.)

But just because it is possible to recognize this and to desire Evil rather than Good, or otherwise to disregard both as considerations, this does nothing to disprove the reality of Evil, which is the topic under discussion.

The Meta-Ethical Moral Relativist claims that there is no objective reality to what is called Evil, and therefore are not subject to truth conditions of any kind. Instead, Evil is contingent upon the traditions, belief systems, customs of a certain people. However, this is not a strong claim. Because while it can be said that the variations in these things have produced a wide diversity of different positions about what a certain person or group will consent to, or will subject themselves to, or choose to endure for the sake of survival, it is the violation of the limitations of their consent or endurance which has always and everywhere been recognized as Evil. It is a consequence of being an embodied individual. It naturally follows from the Law of Identity in this impure realm.

1. I am I.

i.e I am the one who is subject to the internal world of my experience. Or alternatively, I am identical to my perception and my will at a fundamental level.

2. I am always coming into a state of deficiency. If this is not addressed, my internal world will quickly become an agonizing hell until I am annihilated.

3. There is no other that can navigate my consciousness through external circumstances, that can address my deficiencies for me.

4. Therefore I must be the one who speaks for myself, who stewards over my internal world, who guides it through external circumstances.

5. Therefore no other should speak for me, reign over my fate, or use me for his own ends.

I believe that at this point we have sufficiently demonstrated that Evil is not merely a subjective specter, and that universal claims can be made about it. Although this does not mean that objective claims about Justice can be made, or that a universal Justice could ever be described or realized.

The Moral Relativist may object to my definition of the word Evil, and claim that while pain objectively does exist, it is not the same thing as Evil. I would agree with this. Evil is not the same as Pain, although they are often related.

They may then try again, and say that while Suffering does objectively exist, it is not the same thing as Evil. But I disagree. The reality of Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Non-consensuality/Suffering is one and the same thing as that which I am addressing - Evil. This is what is meant by Evil, and not some separate, theoretical Evil which exists apart from all of these things.

It is almost as if the moral relativist has a chip on his shoulder. He is willing to admit that suffering is real, but won't say that it is not desired, or that it should be avoided or escaped - even though the reality of suffering is such that the only possible response to it is to seek to escape it, or else to avoid it altogether. Because if it is admitted that suffering is unsuitable, or not desired, then this is tautologically the same as saying that it is wrong. And if something is both existent and wrong, then it becomes clear that this is the same which has always been referred to as Evil, and that to deny one and affirm the other is nothing more than a game of semantics that does nothing to undermine the reality of the quality which is referred to by both.

Therefore the only option left to a Relativist, is to say that Suffering does exist, but that it is acceptable/necessary/important/good/moral/a part of life; or otherwise to deny the presuppositions of identity and deficiency, which cannot be easily done without descending into absurdity. But can we honestly hold this position? If someone is involved in an activity that causes them heavy suffering, and they are convinced, or have convinced themselves, that suffering is acceptable/necessary/good etc, then they will simply continue to do that activity and thereby continue to suffer. This will continue, and perhaps increase dramatically, unless the person is able to analyze their situation and realize that their position on suffering was ill founded, and that suffering is not acceptable/moral/good, but the opposite. They will realize that they had only been brainwashed to believe that suffering is good by those who wished to take advantage of them, or otherwise that they had reasoned themselves to that position without understanding the full depth of how extreme and irresistible suffering can be. Other arguments against the position that Suffering is acceptable/necessary/important/good/moral have already been made previously when I spoke about how suffering always spreads, that it is not in anyone's self-interest, that it affects the entire species, and that it can never be repaid, etc. I won't continue to belabor my points, but I will expand upon anything if I receive a question about it in particular.

And here we are, at the end of this topic of discussion. There is only one final objection that should be addressed more fully, that has followed us through this treatise and peaked its head out from several nooks and crannies already - and that is the subject of Sadomasochism. To what extent is it possible to flip the script, to desire Hell, to love the scourge? To make Evil one's own Good, as John Milton's Satan chose to do.

Quote from: John Milton - 4
Fall'n Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing of Suffering: but of this be sure,
To do ought good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destind aim.

And so, if a person is a true Sadomasochist that loves pain and suffering, how can there be any evil to such a person? And this is true to an extent. A person who desires all manner of Torture and Imprisonment and Rape and Enslavement, does not have their consent violated by any event - and therefore is totally immune to the effects of Evil. And so we see that Sadomasochism is a sort of dark Equanimity, the flip side to it's coin. Through Equanimity also, one can be largely freed from Suffering - not by loving misery, but by such a perfected and crystalline resolve that they are unmoved by any amount of Suffering, and can even submit unto death, although they are still subject to pain. But clearly these two things are extremely rare outliers of human kind, and their existence does not disprove the reality of Evil, but only shows that it is possible to change one's relationship to it. That stated, this is a good opportunity to contemplate what the difference between the two qualities of Equanimity and Sadomasochism is, and if both are equally Good, or equally removed from Evil.

I cannot answer this question in its entirety, but I do not think that they are. The sadomasochist has aligned his will with Evil, and therefore is not violated in the same way by it. But it can be argued that this person is not actually free from Evil in the way that the enlightened person is. For if he desires the scourge, he must crave it, and if he is always craving more Evil and Torture, can it not be said that he is actually imprisoned by Evil on a more subtle level, and must become its servant? Such a person will always realize more and greater Evil in his life, which will consume a greater and greater share of his Freedom and Peace, and will eventually destroy him - Unless he has found a way to enjoy truly inhuman amounts of pain in such a way that his mortality is not affected by it. If we compare this to a person who has mastered Equanimity, they will find peace and set aside all restriction and woe, cultivate their spirit, and form their reality into a perfected image of their soul - their self-idea, rather than taking on the grim visage of sin. Or otherwise, to go beyond Good altogether to approach Incorruptibility and Chaos, to know the unmanifest.

The perfect example of a True Sadomasochist comes to mind from a movie I was recently introduced to. The Cenobites and their victim Frank from Hellraiser 1987 are a prime example of what we are talking about. Pure Sadomasochism - unrestrained and inhuman. I recommend watching these clips to get an extremely visceral understanding of what is being talked about with the Sadomasochism critique of morality. (Warning: Very Violent/Disturbing)

  (5)    (5)

(I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this film to be honest with you. I would give it a shot if you have any love for classic horror movies. If so then I would also recommend  Suspiria (1977) , Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Thing (1982)  -- but that's neither here nor there!  ;) )

A quote for those who can't watch the video (but you're really missing out.)

Quote from: The Cenobites  - 5

"The Box. You opened it - we came."

"It's just a puzzle box!"

"Oh no. It is a means to summon us!"

"Who are you??"

"Explorers - in the further realms of experience. Demons to some, Angels to others."

"It was a mistake! Agh! Go to Hell!"

"We can't. Not alone.

"You solved the box. We came! Now you must come with us. Taste our pleasures."

"Please, go away! Leave me alone."

"Oh, no tears please... It's a waste of good Suffering!"

"Please wait!"

"No time for argument."

"You've done this before, right? -"
"Many, many times."

"To a man named Frank Cotton?"

"Oh yes."

"He escaped you!"

"Nobody Escapes Us!"

"He did, I've seen him - I've seen him alive!"

"Supposing he had escaped us. What has that to do with you?"

"I can lead you to him! And you can take him back instead of me!"

"Perhaps we prefer you. -

"I want to hear him confess himself! Then, maybe, maybe...

"But if you cheat us -

"We'll tear your soul apart!"

It's really interesting to note how many of the ideas we have discussed here that are touched upon in this exchange. Of course, the Cenobites are not sensitive to moral arguments. They have no compassion in them whatsoever, and in fact cherish it's opposite, which is bloodlust and Sadism. They do not care about consent in the slightest. Your body is not sacred to you, it is theirs to desecrate and defile as they wish. You gave your consent when you solved the box, and there is no safe word for you now. Their victim only catches their interest, by offering another in her place - which really begins to hint at demiurgic themes of salvation by sacrifice.

This is certainly an interesting discussion to have, but whether or not such defiled beings truly exist among us is questionable - though I believe that it is possible to approach such a mindset at the very least. But even if they do exist, as stated, this does not all disprove the reality of Suffering; in fact it may actually further demonstrate such a reality and the possible states of freedom from it: when we compare sadomasochism to the normal condition, equanimity, and someone who is using methods like stoicism or witchcraft.

Ultimately we should recognize that while the existence of Good and Evil does not constitute an obligation toward specific action, or a divine law or justice, it does open our eyes to the potential cruelty of the existence we find ourselves in - and the problem of being tasked to preserve life, when life is by all means set against by the conditions of this reality. There is much that is beyond our control that is not merely indifferent to us; it would harm us, restrict us, spend our vital energies for its own profit, and destroy all of our peace. The discussion should rather be on how to identify, understand, respond to, and prevent Evil - and not to act as though it is unreal or irrelevant by making it disappear from our vision in a cloud of semantic smoke. If we acknowledge good and evil, we can properly cultivate in ourselves a sense of moral courage and compassion, and gain a more penetrating insight into the nature of the world - which will allow us to preserve our honor and uprightness in all situations, and remind us to offer our hand in charity to those who truly need it.


Now then, I believe we have adequately sketched the start of a defensible position of Moral Realism. If you disagree, feel free to post your arguments against any of the claims made here! Or instead, you can add your own thoughts, ask for further explanation of words, or comment on the construction of this post! I look forward to reading your feedback, the purpose of this writing is to provoke a philosophical response, and to find just where the limitations of Moral Realism lie. For anyone who took the time to read all of this, you have my personal thanks. I hope you were able to find something here of interest to you. Blessings to you all!



I do not endorse the stated opinions of any author listed here, or their character.

1. Illuminatus Pythagaros, MetaGod, MetaEthics, & Philophilosophists;

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation, 1841 Essay

3. Olive Fontaine. I'm Done with Horus/RHP (rant), Xepera MaSet. (2018).

4. Paradise Lost, John Milton (1667)

5. Hellraiser (1987), Clive Barker

Journals / A Bag of Olive Thought
« on: June 03, 2018, 03:16:19 pm »
This is not going to be a journal in the traditional sense. The idea was to create a space where some of my small workings and ramblings can be made available for those who wish to expose themselves to them, without being restricted to any particular topic or discussion.

Just a warning - I will be posting here from constructed perspectives. Sometimes they might be quite strange or contradictory.

03/19/18 - Waning Gibbous

"Zen is a place, Tao is the way.
 Tao is a clock, Zen is the time."

The Tao has been interpreted to mean a lot of things to different people, but we're going to be focusing primarily on the Tao as a path. I have seen many people compare the Tao to the Logos of Greek and Christian philosophy, or even equate the two. They both seem to be great flowings of energy that work behind the scenes - inexorable and eternal. But, upon further examination I believe that these forces cannot be one and the same. The first big hint comes to us in the words of an article at The Useless Tree article that responds to certain comparative claims made by a catholic priest concerning the two. 1

"But, and with all due respect to the Bishop, there are fundamental differences between Tao and Logos.  Tao cannot be articulated; Logos obviously can.  Indeed, Logos is precisely the will of God made manifest in such a manner that humans can - or, at least should - understand.  Tao has no form.  It can be "passed on" - especially through our daily engagement with immediate circumstances, the way we "dwell in the ordinary" - but it cannot be received or held.  In other words (however imperfect words may be for expressing Tao), in all of its indistinctness, Tao cannot be reduced to a consistent set of ideas or precepts that apply universally to everyone everywhere.  Obviously, the whole notion of a "catholic" church, which claims to be the one true church, rests on a belief in the universality of Logos.  Tao just doesn't work that way."

Additionally, when we get into the esoteric practices behind Taoism we see so many references to the Tao as being a path back to the origin, the true home, the immaculate mind, and so on. We can think about Logos as being the logic behind the world and existence as we know it. Cause and effect, the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The Tao is instead a wisdom that is not of words, that points beyond the world totally. And it also may be entirely individual, or at least contain a vast number of possible routes. As they say, Way is Wide.

'When the Real divides, the False comes forth.'

'Those who follow the will of Nature go against the ways of Heaven.
 Those who follow the will of Heaven go against the ways of Nature.'

'Everyone in the world knows the path of "going along," but not the path of "reverse operation." What is going along? It means going with natural process. What is reversal? It means reversal of natural process. Going along with natural process gives birth to humans and other beings, the cycle of birth, aging, sickness, and death never ceasing. Reversing the natural process produces enlightened adepts who are neither born nor perish, having a life span equal to that of the universe.'

'People of great wisdom reverse the operation of the natural process; they are not bound by the natural process, not molded by yin and yang, not compelled by myriad things, not changed by myriad conditions. Planting lotuses in a fire, hauling a boat through mud and water, they make temporary use of the things of the world to practice the principle of the Tao, by the human Tao completing the celestial Tao. They uproot the mundane senses conditioned by history and sweep away all acquired influences. They rule their own destinies and are not ruled by fate. Restoring the whole, original being, they avoid compulsive routine, transcend all worlds, and become incorruptible.' 2

So then, if the Tao can be said to be the path of reverse operation, is it merely the other face of the Logos, the Logos seen in reverse? No, I think not. For the path back is of a different nature than the one that drives us forward. How then should we model this?

The first two are very simple considerations of a life which springs from the origin and passes through its phases before reentering it. But during that span there is an opportunity to follow the Path of Heaven and return to the origin. The one on the left is a pro-cosmic viewpoint, which may not be interested in the path, and anti-cosmic view, which in a sense regards the Logos as a fall from glory. They are the same, only mirror images of each other.

The second one is a quick rendering of how Hinduism might see this relationship. Here the top and bottom meet, and life always cycles back unless they manage to reach final liberation. It is "Saving heaven for the sages," in a sense.

This last one attempts to model a slightly different take. Here, a person is reborn in their children, but each individual consciousness still reaches the origin upon death. I surprised myself with this one, accidentally recreating a familiar symbol and then running with it.

What is the point of following the Path of Heaven if everyone reaches the same goal in the end anyways? Well, the Tao is the only path there that is a two-way street. It is a chance to know it while still alive, which produces alien wisdom that can be dramatically transformative. Also, the Path may pass through various 'heavens and hells' as it veers away from the normal course of life.

Keep in mind, this is just an exercise of understanding. If the Tao cannot be written, it most certainly cannot be drawn - especially not hastily on some receipt paper.  :D

2. The Taoist Classics, Thomas Cleary

So what do you guys think about this? Does anyone else want to try putting a different spin on it?

Hey everyone. I was making a reply to a post over in the thread "Discussing Beliefs" - but I think there is enough here to actually open this up to a separate discussion. I'll quote the post I was responding to (From our lovely Co-Founder/Administrator Xepera maSet), and leave my reply unedited. I would greatly enjoy hearing thoughts/arguments about the different approaches I've briefly sketched out here, and I'll be back to answer questions/continue the discussion. Without further ado,

So I think I've FINALLY narrowed it down to one single, connected, provable argument to confirm the Prince of Darkness for anyone willing to accept the evidence.

1. Consciousness is not the same as Nature and can go against it.

2. So, there must be something outside of Nature that chose to give life consciousness.

3. An intelligence outside of Nature is a God. (Done, but wait)

4. Consciousness is inherently opposed to Nature.

5. So there must be a God inherently opposed to Nature.

6. This God is what has been described in every tradition as "The Prince(ess) of Darkness.

7. Therefore the Prince(ess) of Darkness Exists. Could be Set, Odin, Ishtar, Satan or Lucifer, Prometheus, Quetzalcoatl, or and of the thousands of others, but It exists.

It's me again.  ;)  I'm sorry to keep doing this Xepera - I'm not trying to pick on you or your arguments. But I do like when you lay them out point by point, because it makes it really easy to see where our intuitions differ, and I think this is great kindling for conversation.

I agree with all of your big points. I think you have firm footing in saying that Consciousness is apparently different from Nature, and even that it is actually inherently opposed to it. In fact that is the very touchstone of Gnostic thought, which I'm sure you know by now that I am rather fond of. Heck, just replace the words "Nature" with "Demiurgos" and "Consciousness" with "Spirit," and the similarities become obvious. Most Gnostics would probably follow you all the way through this argument.

But Metaphysically/Epistemologically speaking, I can't grant you 5 - and I definitely can't grant you 2. Making a statement like 2 is what I would call taking an "outside-in" approach, because you are saying that something must have come into Nature in order to oppose it, or to sow the seeds of its opposition, or more explicitly to create us. But there really isn't anything we can point to, or test, or conceive of that would even suggest the possibility of something like this happening in the physical universe - other than our own apparent improbable excellence. (Which of course, is necessary for any observation to have been made in the first place, or any discussion to be had about it.) That doesn't mean it couldn't have happened, but there is no reason to think that it did and it is simply not evident to us now.

Personally, I think the "inside-out" approach is a little more sophisticated. That is to say, that something happened within nature that would lead to the opposition we see today. It is even harder to disprove this and say it must have come from outside when we consider that there is no way to prove that the opposition of Consciousness is actually a strict opposition to the goals of Nature, and not also a Natural process. Especially when we see that the very workings of nature at almost every level are opposition, consuming itself, and overcoming itself. The aggressive and self-destructive nature of man could very well be the flowering of these tendencies. From this perspective, the opposition is only visible from the point of view of the individual, who is faced with pain, death, and annihilation on every side. But from the perspective of Nature/Demiurgos, all is going well. This method doesn't lead us to speculating about another world and our mystical origin from it, or the beings/forms that might reside there. This way of thinking would consider the "outside-in" school to be taking a mythological explanation literally instead of symbolically. We could still say that there is a God of Consciousness/Prince of Darkness - but not in the sense that he actually exists somewhere, even if that place is outside of space/time, but in the sense that the Platonic Forms are abstractions or pure Idea Forms of the manifestations of Nature. That is, the Prince of Darkness is manifested through us, and does not need a greater level of existence than that.

Before I wrap this up, I just want to stipulate that what I've said above does NOT indicate that Nature/Logos is something to be praised and fused with. I think the critique of existence is still possible, and maybe even stronger from the perspective that our individual beings/body-souls are a product of that Nature. It also does not mean that it is impossible to truly oppose Nature. But to do that, it might be worthwhile to take a look at our true mystical origin, our true Father and Mother, the place that we really did come from that is apart from Nature - and that is non-existence. Our conscious experience really did arise from nothingness, which is nowhere in Nature and has nothing to do with it. It is likely we will return there some day soon. Therefore an Anti-cosmic approach would be concerned with what the unmanifest is, and how to know it, rather than to try and take action in this world against Nature; which in truth would only empower its own self-contained machinations.

The perspective I have outlined for you here, is in its most basic form, Monistic Gnosticism. Those who oppose the course of Nature without admitting another Supernatural world as the source of this conflict, other than the non-world of nonexistence, from which we as individuals were born, but that Nature is forever removed from. I'm not saying this is the gospel truth, but an equivalent argument for the POD from this side might run something like this:

1. Consciousness/The Conscious Experience is inherently opposed by Nature.

2. Our Bodies and Minds are Products of that same Nature

3. But our Consciousness is not. It arose from Nonexistence, which Nature does not know.

4. The Prince of Darkness is a God inherently opposed to Nature, and is manifested as beings that are separate and opposed to that Nature.

5. We are manifested beings who are opposed to Nature, and are separate from it since our point of origin is beyond this world, and our consciousness of the world does not exist in the world.

6. Therefore the Prince(ess) of Darkness Exists. Could be Set, Odin, Ishtar, The Serpent, Lucifer, Prometheus, Quetzalcoatl, or and of the thousands of others, but It exists.

But of course, this formulation shows the POD hypothesis to be ancillary and sort of unnecessary, since the biggest ideas are in points 1-3. Once it is understood that POD is the Platonic Ideal that connects these manifested adversarial beings, then of course it exists- since we exist. We don't need it to 'exist' more than that. Someone more passionate about this point of view might feel it more useful to extend it otherwise, like so: (Remember, Demiurge/Demiurgos is Nature. It's not a being, though we may talk of it that way sometimes.)

1. Consciousness/The Conscious Experience is inherently opposed by Demiurgos.

2. Our Bodies and Minds are Products of that same Demiurgos

3. But our Consciousness is not. It arose from Nonexistence, which the Demiurge does not know.

4. Our Minds and Bodies prevent us from realizing this, as they are products of Demiurgos and are not concerned with/cannot comprehend that which is beyond its possibilities and those that it suggests.

5. Salvation from the hellish world of the Demiurge requires lessening attachment to it.

6. One who has broken his enchantment with Demiurgos can at last turn inwards to the infinite and timeless Origin, which was before and remains unblemished by, this fallen creation.

etc etc

General LHP Discussion / Strange Celestial Phenomena
« on: January 26, 2018, 06:17:12 am »
So, I've been having some weird experiences under the night sky over the last month. I've seen singular, out of place shooting stars 3 different times since the beginning of the year. (Yet when I stayed out to see a predicted meteor shower I didn't catch a single one - strange how that works.) But the last one of those three, the one I saw tonight, was very strange. I was having a fire with two friends, and we were all playing music together. I took a little break to admire the moon. Not long after I began, I saw something appear a good ways to the left of her. It was a single bright blue light. It looked just like a star but very large. It lingered there for about a quarter of a second, before firing off straight downwards in a streak that stayed visible until it was behind the canopied horizon. It stayed visible the entire time, and did not seem to fade at all in transit. This was quite a long distance to travel, from the apparent height of the moon to the horizon, spanning about 1/3 the radius of the sky. This movement happened in about the same time that it lingered, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a second. This was quite different than the other shooting stars I've come across in my days.

I'm not saying it was anything supernatural necessarily, but it was certainly very striking in the moment. And it happened so quickly I was the only one of my 3 friends to catch a glimpse of it because I happened to be moongazing. It felt significant to me.

Please share any of your stories about strange things in the sky and possible astrological/astronomical explanations. I am feeling some odd synchronicity that makes me want to learn more about this subject. These phenomena have been almost forcing themselves into my notice, and I swear I have never seen so many before. I would like to learn about some ancient interpretations of falling stars and their meanings. I'll be posting the information I uncover here.

General LHP Discussion / Lore on Lilith (Demon Goddess/Wife of Satan)
« on: December 11, 2017, 02:18:29 am »
Hello  everyone - I just joined the forum today after the recent Reddit AMA. I briefly spoke with a few of your members there, and I'm reading my way through the first newsletter as I write this. So far it seems that my philosophy/metaphysics are quite different than the average Setian, but our methods and goals overlap. It is refreshing to come across a focused spiritual/conscious community such as this.

My name is Olive. I'm a practicing witch and moon priestess. I'm most familiar with Hindu Realism, Buddhism, Materialism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and all things to do with spellcraft. I don't say any of these is the one truth, but I hold all of them as perspectives within myself. Each has its own wisdom to share.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, let's discuss this topic in earnest. These stories are from the Abrahamic tradition; you may consider them apocryphal if you only read the Bible, but this is clearly an ancient figure. She still retains one name drop in Isaiah, and many more in Jewish texts. She is even mentioned explicitly in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Contrary to popular belief, Lilith was the first woman God created. He created her to be exactly equal with Adam. Both of them were male and female, fully self-satisfied, and androgynous. The only problem was that Lilith refused to be subservient to Adam as all other creatures were. There was a struggle for dominance during sex when he refused to submit to her as she had for him; Lilith decided to abandon Adam following this event - speaking "the ineffable name" as she did so.

Afterwards, other events may have transpired depending on which stories you believe. But eventually, God decided to make a new partner for Adam - one that would be incomplete without him and therefore appropriately subservient to him. He did this not by removing one rib, but his entire side. (I've heard Jewish rabbis argue this was the intent of the scripture, but we can get into that later if necessary.) He split Adam into two, one Man, one Woman. From this point on, they would always rely on one another.

So what happened with Lilith? She abandoned Eden and became the wife of Satan. She was immortal, having left the garden before the fall, and also the last 'complete' human. She is shown as female from the head to the waist, but below has male genitalia - representing her androgyny and sexual power.  (Interestingly, Satan is often depicted as both Male and Female as well; usually represented by giving him a pair of or just one breast.) Together they spawned all manner of demons. It was decided by god that 100 of her children would be put to death each day, and she made a deal with several archangels in exchange for her life. She agreed that any child who bore their names on an amulet would be protected from her.

There are many other stories that developed about her over time, and not all of them were unflattering. She is often credited as a protector of widows and single women, and the ultimate temptress for man. She is related to the Moon symbolically. She has also been used as a symbol for feminism. In the Qliphoth she appears prominently twice: once as Lilith the Younger, her traditional self, and once as Lilith the Elder, considered to be an anti-cherub - beautiful in appearance but putrefying in substance, and riding a strange beast.

I cannot imagine a more perfect bride for Satan.

I feel that many parts of this story have been made manifest in myself, both physically and psychically. (I'll elaborate on that when I get home and have a bit more time.) And her name and thoughtform hold much power. For these reasons I've begun to study her in more depth. I'll be posting my most interesting results here in this thread.

Discussion Topics
Discussion and interpretation of lore regarding Lilith.

Discussion of other gods and figures that fall under this archetype

Use of the names or symbols of Lilith in rituals and spells

Masculine and Feminine energies, their uses, balancing and extinguishing them.



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