Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quote of the Moment

Perusing the archives of the old alt.magick forums – which contain a wealth of insight for someone willing to put in the work to dig it out – I came across this gem from forum legend Tom Schuler:

it's a good idea to be aware of reality, to be aware of what's actually going on as much as possible.  This makes your life less bumpy, less prone to avoidable catastrophes […] Your awareness of your True Will is not for the sake of making your True Will happen, but to make your life better while your True Will happens.

In response to that last wise sentence, yet another forum legend, Erwin Hessle 8=3, posted the following quote from Aleister Crowley:

"I have omitted to say that the whole subject of Magick is an example of Mythopoeia in that particular form called Disease of Language." - Magick in Theory and Practice

Further comment would only mar the sublime simplicity of this exchange.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Illusion of Free Will

The term “free will” commonly refers to the felt sense that people could have acted otherwise than they actually did. For example, I decided to sit down and write this blog post. Someone who accepts the common notion of free will (sometimes called “libertarian” free will) would argue that I could have chosen to do something else with my time, but I instead deliberately selected to write this blog post.

This is all well and good, and it describes how nearly all normal, healthy people subjectively experience the world. But do we have free will in this sense? *Could* I, in fact, have done differently than I did?
Read on for some reflections on free will.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Battle of the Bald Claims?

There’s a common tactic used by religious believers that has surfaced (once again) on the Temple of Thelema Forums. It might be instructive to look at this tactic and how religious believers use it.

On the thread I was posting on just prior to the start of a ban on certain posts (that is, any posts that do not begin from the assumption that “we are spiritual beings”) Jim Eshelman was doing his usual act of declaring, without any justification, that “the universe is inherently conscious […] consciousness itself is the fundamental substance of all that is.”

When I correctly called it a “bald assertion,” he responded, “That ‘bald assertion’ [is] just possibly the most important foundation principle of everything we're about."

This prompted the following response from me:

Right. That’s been my big criticism of your philosophy: you rest everything on a principle that you just baldly assert. I’ve asked you to support your claim with evidence, and not only do you not, you pretend that it’s not necessary to do so.

In a recent post over there, Eshelman actually did concede that his position (which he phrased this time as “Consciousness […] is the root matter of the universe”) is,“As stated […] just a bald, unsubstantiated claim.” He proceeds to add that the statement “consciousness itself is cerebral activity” is also a “bald, unsubstantiated claim.”

Well, what we’ve got here is a battle of the bald claims, isn’t it? Looks like neither side has evidence, so it’s a draw, right? I guess it all comes down to whichever side you just randomly pick because you like believing it or because your daydreams support it, right?


This tactic is remarkably similar to what religious types often say about atheism: they say that the statement “There is no god” is just as unprovable as the statement “There is a god,” so it takes just as much faith to say that there is no god. Therefore, we’ve got a battle of the faiths. You got faith in one thing, and I got faith in one thing, and nobody can be sure, so it’s equal, isn’t it? You make a bald assertion, I make a bald assertion, and then people just pick whatever they like. Like flavors of ice cream.

That’s what these religious believers want: they want important issues to be reduced to a question of preference.

Read on for an explanation of what this dishonest religious tactic gets wrong.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"In between brain and mouth...there was no interlocutor."

This article is a response to a post directed at me by a contributor on The Thelemic Fruitcake Factory. I’m putting it here because dissenting opinions are no longer tolerated on those forums, and I am therefore unable to post there.
Here’s my blog post that got this section of the conversation rolling.
Here’s the guy's response (his "Interlocutor's Response") on the Fruitcake Factory.
You can read my response below. Enjoy.