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Questions for Michael Aquino

To: alt.satanism
From: (Dr. Michael A. Aquino)
Date: 25 Jul 2001 19:12:07 GMT
Subject: Re: Questions for Michael Aquino

Hash: SHA1
(Cindy) wrote:

>1. Do you consider yourself above any and all
>external consequences? Do you consider yourself
>above any and all external standards, laws,
>values, etc.?
>5.  Does your use of the words "integrity", "ethics",
>and "ethical" apply only to yourself (and why?),
>or to everyone (and why)?

- From my _Black Magic_ in the _Crystal Tablet of Set_:

As you become adept in LBM, you will be tempted to use it for
all manner of personal gratification. The more skilled you are,
the more you will be inclined to think that you can get away
with almost anything. The governing factor is not whether you
can or can't, but rather whether your consciously-determined
ethics allow you to. As you begin to direct your life independently
of morals, codes, and customs imposed upon you by the politics
and propaganda of society, you will have to assume the responsibility
for your own ethics. *Only if you are known to be a strictly ethical
individual will your rejection of social norms be tolerated*.
Otherwise you will be ostracized and probably persecuted by
society. If it cannot be sure of controlling you, it will tend not to
trust you to control yourself intelligently unless you make it
very clear that you can do precisely that. In that case society
will tend not only to tolerate you, but even to respect and admire
you for the unique, creative being that you are ...

The Black Magician contemplating a particular LBM Working
must therefore determine not only whether that Working will be
ethical in his eyes, but also ethical according to the cultural
mind-sets of all other parties to the Working: participants, objects,
catalysts, witnesses. To label a Working "good" or "evil" by some
knee-jerk, propagandistic formula is entirely inadequate.
[Formula "good/evil" values are merely appropriate for the
profane masses, who can't - and don't want to - understand
anything more precise.]

There is thus no easy answer to the question of whether a
given magical act is "good" or "evil". In itself it is ethically
neutral. As Machiavelli so clearly observed, it is the *result
it produces* which will be judged - and then it is up to the
magician to determine what judgments - by which judges -
will be important. Successfully conducted, such an assessment
will not only reinforce the success of a given Working; it will
also ensure that the magician correctly anticipates the
*actual* consequences of its immediate results.

>3.  You recently used the term "integrity" in a
>post.  How do you define the word "integrity" and
>by what standard(s), philosophical basis, social
>more(s) etc.?
>4.  You have used the words "ethics" and "ethical"
>in posts.  How do you define the words "ethics" and
>"ethical" and by what standard(s), philosophical
>basis, social more(s), etc.?

Further from my _Black Magic_:

_Ethics_, alternatively called _moral philosophy_, seeks to
distinguish what is good from what is bad and to formulate
justifiable reasons for making such distinctions. As a branch
of philosophy, ethics is a *normative* science; that is, it seeks
to identify principles of good and evil that transcend social,
cultural, or political convention (social contract theory).

Beyond a merely normative approach to ethics is *metaethics*,
which seeks to investigate normative currency-terms such as
"good", "evil", "justice", "ought", "right", and "wrong". The
neutrality and objectivity of metaethics depend on the
assumption that such terms are not dependent upon moral
beliefs (such as religion). The metaethical concept of *naturalism*,
advanced by theorists such as John Dewey and Herbert Spencer
posits that moral terms have a basis in scientific fact.
*Intuitionists* agree that moral terms have an external,
reliable basis, but attribute it to self-evident ("I know it when
I see it") qualities.

Challenging intuitionists and naturalists are *moral
skepticists* who insist that moral terms are completely
arbitrary. *Emotivists* claim that such terms have no
capacity for being true or false in themselves, and that the
people who use them are simply stating their emotions about
an issue. *Subjectivists* maintain that moral judgments
state subjective facts only about attitudes, not the objects
of those attitudes. And *Imperativists* insist that moral
judgments are actually "commands" in another guise, hence
do not focus at all on criteria of truth or objectivity.

When even its basic language terms are so fraught with
controversy, normative ethics is off to a rough start. Beyond
this are arguments over the criteria for making any kind of
moral judgment. *Teleologists* maintain that the morality
of an action is determined solely by its consequences. Some
teleologists, such as Plato, insist that the perfection of the self
is the correct consequence; hedonists say that it is mere
pleasure; utilitarians counter that it must be the greatest
benefit to society. *Theologians*, such as Aquinas, Luther,
et al., dispense with teleology altogether in favor of obedience
to proclaimed or perceived morality from a God or gods.

The sharpest attack on ethics generally comes from *egoists*
such as Thomas Hobbes and Friedrich Nietzsche (cf. his
_Genealogy of Morals_) [and Ragnar Redbeard!], who
consider all ethics as verbal camouflage to conceal the reality
that all actions are merely in the interest of the stronger (who
by that same strength dictates all definitions of "justice", "right",
etc.). The egoist position was represented in the Platonic
Dialogue _The Republic_ by Glaucon, and went on to form the
basis for Enlightenment "social contract" theories (Hobbes,
Locke, Rousseau), wherein "justice" and related terms became
simply (!) matters of agreement and contract between the
people of a society.

Accordingly it is not surprising that practical problem-solvers
shy away from metaethical issues and try rather to address
questions in terms of what are generally called *descriptive
ethics* - the customs and standards of a  given culture which
serve as measurements of rightness and wrongness within
that culture. An acceptance of descriptive ethics as ethics
leads to an attitude of *ethical relativism*, according to
which there is no standard for judging right and wrong
apart from the cultural environment of specific situations.
Hence the killing of humans by humans may be "ethical"
if sanctioned by a judge or national sovereign, but the
identical act may be "unethical" if undertaken by an
individual, regardless of reasons.

Until the Enlightenment of the late-17th and 18th
centuries, ethical philosophy was completely metaethical;
standards of good and evil were accepted as being prescribed
by one or more divinities or divine principles (_neteru_,
Forms). It was humanity's task not to determine ethics, but
rather to understand and obey divinely-ordained ethics.

The ancient Egyptians perceived the Universe as actively
controlled by conscious, natural principles or "gods"
(_neteru_ in hieroglyphic). To the Egyptians, all of "nature"
(derived from _neteru_) was alive and the direct consequence
of the wills of the _neteru_. Nature was intelligible not just
through inanimate, automatic, general regularities which
could be discovered via observation, but also through
*connections and associations between things and events
perceived in the human mind*. There was no distinction
between "reality" and "appearance"; anything capable of
exerting an effect upon the mind thereby existed. Justice
and virtue were sought in manifestations of beauty,
symmetry, and harmony, and were personified by the
goddess Ma'at.

In contrast to the Egyptian view of humanity as being a
harmonious component of nature - symbolized by the
Pharaoh's position as half-divine deputy of the _neteru_ -
ancient Mesopotamian tradition posited humanity as

something estranged from the gods. Virtue in Mesopotamia
was thus understood as obedience to the willful desires of
the god(s), not harmony with their natural principles.
Mesopotamian kings sought the "right ruling" of their
communities in accordance with the Akkadian principle
of _Shulmu_ (later the Hebrew _Shalom_), a term meaning
not just "peace" but the community well-being that engenders
peace. In the Hebraic system, God is not intelligible through
reason or logic, but rather through prophecy and the history
of events, whether or not the events' outcomes seem
situationally appropriate (*theodicy*). The Hebraic
presumption of a "covenant" between mankind and a
divinity reflected the notion that mankind is given a
"mission" and/or a "destiny", and that virtue lies in the
fulfillment of that mission/destiny - whether or not it is
aesthetically palatable or even understandable. Herein
lie the roots of a certain kind of "outcome-justified"
thinking that is prevalent in modern culture.

The ethics of Plato reflect his commitment to *teleology*,
the doctrine that purpose and design are apparent in nature,
and that natural phenomena move inexorably towards
certain goals of ultimate self-realization. [The opposite of
teleology is *mechanism*, which describes phenomena in
terms of *prior causes* rather than presumed destination
or fulfillment. Modern science is thus mechanistic.]

In his _Dialogues_ Plato, through the character of Socrates,
endorsed the Egyptian and Pythagorean model of human
virtue as a particularization of Universal principles (an
application of his famous "Theory of the Forms"). Such Forms
or principles could be apprehended through rigorous exercise
of the higher faculties of reason (_Dianoia_), leading to an
intuitional or _Noetic_ apprehension of the good - and a
simultaneous veneration of it for its own sake. This process
Plato referred to as the _dialectic_, meaning self-teaching
through the examination and refutation of logically- or
factually-imperfect concepts.

In Plato's _Republic_ Socrates is unable to directly refute
Glaucon's egoist charge that justice is merely a rationalization
for the prevailing of the interests of the stronger. Socrates
can only suggest, through the analogy of a perfectly-
harmonious "republic", that it is more natural for a man to
be just if his psyche is healthy and each part is doing its
proper work. The virtuous state is held up as "the psyche
writ large".

Aristotle, the most famous of the early mechanists, laid
the groundwork for situational ethics by denying that
virtue, truth, beauty, and the other Pythagorean/Platonic
Forms existed in an absolute sense. Such values, as they
applied to humanity, were rather to be sought in moderation
between unacceptable extremes in specific situations:
Aristotle's doctrine of the "golden mean".

Until this point in human history, ethics and politics were
inseparable; the individual's good and the community's good
had to be pursued together; there was no such thing as
"personal ethics within an unethical state", nor "an ethical
state comprised of unethical citizens". The sins of OEdipus
necessitated not only his blinding but his exile, and Socrates'
challenge to the harmony of Athens was considered sufficient
grounds to condemn him to death. Socrates himself
acknowledged this principle, accepting his execution as a
"cure" of his function as a kind of social "illness" - albeit one
whose impact would ultimately strengthen the Athenian
political culture.

In the Hellenistic era - the  period following the conquests of
Alexander the Great - ancient mankind lost its innocence.
Elaborate philosophical systems dependent upon specific
cultural deities were discredited when other cultures with
different philosophies and different gods were seen to be
doing just as well - and perhaps better. Materialism was the
order of the day, and the power of ethics to influence society
was denied by the *Cynics* and *Skeptics*. If virtue had any
place in human affairs, it was in one's personal conduct.
*Epicureanism* held that virtue could be found in the
happiness of the soul, and that such happiness was to be
pursued by disassociating oneself from the corruption of society.
*Stoicism* also despaired of social ethics, but insisted that
personal ethics were to be pursued by one's labors within the
social fabric rather than apart from it.

The importance of Stoicism to the subsequent path of Western
civilization can scarcely be overemphasized. Stoics, like
Aristotle, sought validation of knowledge in sense-experience
rather than through abstract logic or intuition. A wise man,
said the Stoics, can distinguish reliable impressions
(_kataleptika phantasia_ = "grasping impressions") from
ethereal ones. Humanity is integral with nature; virtue is
to be found in reason-based endurance of the natural flux.
Thus if evil comes to the good man, it is only temporary
and not really evil, since in the greater sense it is natural.
The Stoic thus accepts the fortunes and misfortunes of life
calmly, seeking to avoid passionate loss of objectivity. The
Stoics' ideal was a gradually-evolving "world society"
(_cosmopolis_) transcending geographic and cultural

Stoicism was the primary ethical force in the Roman
Republic and Empire, and it is not surprising to find its
core principles adopted by early Christianity. Augustine's
doctrine of the "two cities" reflected the Stoic notion of a
virtuous soul co-existing with a flawed social system. By
the medieval era, the "two cities" had been refined into
Thomas Aquinas' "hierarchy of laws", with social and
political "human law" placed firmly beneath [church-]
revealed "divine law" and Stoic-derived "natural law". The
contradictions and corruptions of such a climate spawned

Niccolo Machiavelli (after whom the Devil began to be
called "Old Nick") sought to prescribe wise conduct (_virtu_)
for Italian princes faced with unavoidable problems
(_necessita_) brought about by factors beyond their control
(_fortuna_). Contrary to his church-propagandized image,
Machiavelli was constantly and intensely concerned with
the establishment of the ethical society, and his manipulative
techniques were justified in his eyes by the "best political
results under the circumstances" that he expected as the
eventual outcome. *Precisely* quoted, the famous passage
from Chapter #18 of _The Prince_ reads:

"In the actions of all men, and especially of princes who are
not subject to a court of appeal, we must always look to the

While Machiavelli advocated the tacit manipulation of
society for deliberate [and ultimately virtuous] ends,
early Protestant theorists such as Martin Luther and John
Calvin regarded ethics as being beyond the rational reach
of mankind. The basis for ethical behavior, they said, is
that a righteous man will automatically incline towards
such behavior, not because it is logically or empirically
justified in itself. Salvation (=attainment of righteousness)
is attainable only through the complete surrender of oneself
to Christ. This constituted a rejection of medieval scholasticism,
and of the "logical ethics" arguments of Aristotle (whom
Luther called "this damned, conceited, rascally heathen")
and Aquinas. The impact of the Protestant Reformation
was to remove the rational basis and responsibility for
either personal or social ethics, replacing these with the
notion of ethics as a suprarational article of religious faith -
to be selectively invoked by spokesmen for that religion.

With the social-contract theorists of the 17th- and
18th-century "Enlightenment" came a renaissance of reason -
including as the negotiated basis for ethics. Thomas Hobbes,
after Glaucon, denied the religious tenet of a "supreme good",
seeing in its place only material self-interest and gratification.
Hobbes' prescribed social contract was thus a negative one,
establishing an atmosphere of truce between citizens who
would otherwise savage one another mercilessly. Such a
contemptuous view of humanity evolved forward into
many "lower" ideologies of contemporary society, most
conspicuously communism. "Hobbes," Karl Marx is said to
have muttered, "is the father of us all." It should be pointed
out, however, that Hobbes' reputation for harshness came
not from personal preference, but rather from a coldly
practical analysis of what makes human beings behave
unpleasantly towards one another. Previously "evil" had
been excused as a theological force, or as the result of "original
sin", i.e. something for which rational individuals could not
be held exclusively responsible. Hobbes denied such excuses.

In contrast to Hobbes, John Locke suggested that social-contract
nations could exist on a *positively cooperative* basis of mutual
interest. It is important to note that Locke's prescription was
based not on idealistic abstractions (such as ethics), but
rather on attainable material objectives: "life, liberty, and
estate". Like Hobbes, he sought to design a society reflecting
"basic man" rather than one espousing unattainable ideals
and expectations. Locke's positively-cooperative assumptions
and prescription for limited government based upon majority
rule formed the philosophical basis for the American
Declaration of Independence and Constitution, to include
the latter's Bill of Rights [against the government]. Locke
recommended a "reasonable Christianity" - a faith which,
while satisfying personal religious desires, would play only
a symbolic and ceremonial role in political decision-making.

The history of social-contract ethics does not cease with John
Locke, but his ideas, as immortalized in the aforementioned
documents, ordained the ethical atmosphere of United States
political culture, in which the Temple of Set is principally
based, to the present day. This atmosphere may be
summarized in five general maxims:

(1) Government based on law is a positive institution, not
something to be eliminated in an ideal society.

(2) Good government is a construct of the people and is
responsible to them (social contract theory), not to a
higher religion, destiny, or ideology.

(3) The will of the people is best ascertained through the
opinion of the majority, which thus determines "political
truth". [It is precisely because there is no authority superior
to such majority opinion that Locke placed certain
"inalienable rights" of all humanity beyond the reach
of government.]

(4) As society is based upon cooperative self-interest, so the
attractions of such self-interest - for example, private
property - must be preserved and enhanced as beneficial
and indeed vital features of that society.

(5) There is an intrinsic dignity in the individual human
life which must be accepted and respected as an article of faith.

To the Lockean frame of mind, these values are, in the words
of the Declaration of Independence, "held to be self-evident";
they are beyond debate, beyond compromise. Nevertheless
many other cultures do not accept them in whole or part -
and *do not necessarily see this as a deficiency* in their
social structures.

As the United States aged sufficiently to develop a sense of
and regard for its own history, "pure" Lockean theory
became leavened with a measure of ethical conservatism:
an acceptance of certain things as "good" simply because they
have continued to be tolerated over an extended period of
time. Conservatism was elevated to a deliberate ethical
philosophy by David Hume, who defined the morally good
as what one *ought* to do according to prevailing passionate
custom. Hume denied that the good could be ascertained
by dispassionate reasoning. Reason, he said, is useful only
to discover the most practical or sensible approaches to
problems. Hence virtue and vice are products of *sentiment*.
Virtue is not approved because it is "intrinsically virtue";
it is considered to be virtue because it meets with passionate

The point of this brief tour through certain key concepts in
the evolution of ethics is simply to show clearly what all too
many people perceive only dimly and imprecisely - how the
United States has developed its "official ethics". If this
background is *not* understood, Setians cannot clearly
understand why certain ethical norms are expected in
this country - or understand why some foreign cultures
"mysteriously/unreasonably" reject those norms ... often
on what *they* consider to be ethical grounds!

The science of ethics is not peripheral or incidental to the
Temple of Set; it is *central* to it. Whether people hold a
certain opinion or behave in a certain way is critically
influenced by whether or not they believe themselves
*justified* in so doing. Once "rightness" or "wrongness" is
established, specific LBM Workings will be interpreted
accordingly. In order to be effective, a magician must first
*recognize* and *consciously appreciate* the ethical
components of his designs that are particular to their
cultural point of origin ...

Michael A. Aquino

Version: PGP Personal Security 7.0.3


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