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#427117 - 07/21/10 12:59 PM Yet another newbie introduction
DanielM Offline



Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Kintuhkee, Yew-Ess-Ay
All right, folks, gather 'round and listen to another newbie blather ...

My name is Danny, and I'm new to Satanism. I'd certainly heard of Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan before, but only had the barest idea of what the philosophy was really all about. I've had a copy of The Satanic Bible for about twenty-five years, but had never bothered to give it more than a casual glance -- I originally bought it while in college for the shock value, something that I could leave lying around the dorm room to make visitors' eyebrows rise.

Recently I was moving some stuff around, stumbled across it, and really read it for the first time. My reactions were very strong, deep, and consistent. Frequently I found myself reacting, "that's right," "well said," "this is for me," etc.

A bit more about my background. I grew up in the Bible Belt, but my family was never more than casually Christian -- a circumstance for which I'm grateful having seen firsthand how much damage Christianity does to those who seriously embrace it. My parents were the type who believed in God, Jesus, and so on, but who also (when they bothered to think about it at all) resolved to "get serious someday" (but not this week). I was dragged off to Sunday school and church every week until I was about six out of social obligation on their part, at which point I suppose they decided they were sick of the whole thing and stopped going. While in college I decided I'd better make up my mind on the whole issue one way or another. I examined Christianity and found that it fell apart under close examination, and I became an atheist.

Some time later I became interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and pursued it further, reading her works, attending a few Objectivist meetings, etc. While I still find a lot of value in it and in many Objectivist ideas, I never really embraced it. Nathaniel Branden, who was Rand's "intellectual heir" for many years before splitting with her, and who has a doctorate in psychology, later made the criticism that Rand was shockingly naive about human psychology and that it showed in her work; a criticism with which I agree (I have a psych M.A.). The concept of humans as tabula rasa, the belief that emotions will naturally and automatically fall into line with rational beliefs, and the consequences of that belief in Objectivism and its representation in Rand's work, all led me to conclude early on that whatever else Objectivism is, it is an incomplete way of living, neglecting the emotional side of human existence and failing to recognize certain realities of human nature.

To me, the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room has always been Objectivism's "ideas" on art and esthetics, which are so poorly developed as to not deserve to be called ideas at all. To give just one mundane example -- according to Rand, Beethoven's music is inherently malevolent, and thus liking it demonstrates some contradiction in inner values and a corresponding failure of character. Why is this? Objectivism doesn't say. Since Objectivism claims to be a complete philosophy of living, the implication is that there is a good reason for this, even if it's not described adequately in Objectivist writings. Combine that with the flawed beliefs that emotions are consonant with rational value judgments and that the universe is ultimately benevolent, and the full implication to an Objectivist newbie is, "hey, we're really busy people, and we just haven't got around to writing down that particular part of it yet. But trust us, it works. Keep workin' them premises and axioms, keep gazin' at that navel and pickin' apart every little contradiction you find in yourself, and one day, presto! -- you'll wake up and discover that you simply don't like Beethoven anymore. And until that day comes, the fact that you do like Beethoven demonstrates that you're less than perfect, that there's some part of you that's still stuck in irrational ways of thinking ... and to that extent you are morally obliged to damn yourself as evil." The same reasoning is applied to any and all artistic and emotional judgments that Objectivism, for whatever reason (usually because of Rand's entirely personal and idiosyncratic preferences) deems "irrational." The result is entirely predictable and forseeable -- to steal a great line from Branden, what Objectivism really preaches is "repress, repress, repress." And I'm not just nitpicking; if you read accounts of ex-Objectivists, it's not unusual that they need therapy after leaving Objectivism because of this very issue.

(To be fair, I've recently listened to some podcasts from Leonard Peikoff -- the Objectivist leader since Rand's death -- and have heard things that imply that he's more open-minded and less dogmatic on this issue than Rand was. How much of that is reflected in the actual practice of Objectivism among the present-day rank and file, I couldn't say. Given that there's more than a little adoration of Rand among Objectivists, I suspect it's still a problem.)

I'm not saying any of this to trash Objectivism; I do still believe that it has a lot of value, within its legitimate domain of application. Rand's ideas about "second-handers," "the sanction of the victim," etc. are devastatingly insightful, and I'm constantly amazed at just how much of humanity hasn't caught on to those things. But to me the parallels are all too plain between Christians on guilt trips for not being Jesus Christ and Objectivists on guilt trips for not being John Galt.

Anyway, how that all connects to Satanism is that from what I understand so far, Satanism acknowledges the necessity of experiencing life on an emotional as well as a rational level in a way Objectivism utterly fails to. But further than that, Satanism embraces that necessity. That's not to say that Satanists as I understand are mindless hedonists, far from it. It simply means that some parts of human existence are non-rational, and Satanism treats these facets as equally legitimate and worthy of respect and attention as the rational parts. So my response to Satanism so far has been "yes, this contains what I liked about Objectivism, but this also has what Objectivism was missing."

So, that's "where I'm at" right now. I've just finished The Satanic Bible, and I have several other books ready to read (Hail Kindle! lol) -- The Devil's Notebook, The Satanic Witch, The Satanic Rituals (all by LaVey), and Peter Gilmore's The Satanic Scriptures. Obviously still learning, and if anyone thinks I'd be better off taking those in some particular order I'd appreciate hearing it ... or any thoughts or insights you'd like to pass on, for that matter. And I promise not to be so long-winded next time wink

Danny


Edited by DanielM (07/21/10 01:23 PM)
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#427120 - 07/21/10 02:20 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
M.D. Roche Offline
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Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Albany, New York
I think The Satanic Scriptures should be read immediately after TSB. Both were equally necessary for me in order to fully grasp all of the concepts of Satanism.
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#427122 - 07/21/10 02:26 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
reprobate Offline

CoS Warlock

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
Welcome!

I flirted a little with Objectivism many years ago. But then I studied philosophy at the bachelor and then the graduate level, and I discovered that everything Ayn Rand claimed to have originated, she cribbed from a long tradition; and everyone she ever cites, she mischaracterizes in a grossly distorted way. It turns out there's a whole rich history there for the Satanist to explore, sometimes critically, sometimes sympathetically. (The idea that Kant or Mill are collectivist hippies is just nuts.) I have my theories about why she did this, biographically speaking. But maybe this will add another item to your list of gripes.


Edited by reprobate (07/21/10 02:27 PM)
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#427123 - 07/21/10 02:51 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
Roho_the_Rooster Offline
CoS Warlock

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 6999
Loc: Pre-Apocalypolis
Everyone has their preference as to what order they read the texts in. Personally, I read The Satanic Bible, then ordered the others. I read them in the order they came in. If you're smart enough to think your way out of a limited philosophy, you'll be okay.
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#427205 - 07/22/10 05:06 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
Machismo Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 1132
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: DanielM
I'm not saying any of this to trash Objectivism; I do still believe that it has a lot of value, within its legitimate domain of application.


One of my roles on this message board, apparently, is to point people to this essay, which I think will interest you:
Satanism and Objectivism
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#427214 - 07/22/10 07:46 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: Machismo]
Roger Offline
Banned

Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 81
Loc: NJ
Thank you for the knowledge an insight. I am an atheist/satanist ( new to admit the latter), and I am having difficulties accepting the "magic". However, this essay has helped in my search for answers. I have read the TSB and other readings from LaVey. However, I agree and look into a mirror as I read, but the "magic" remains a tough pill to swallow. Are there other readings I should drive into to aid in my quest for knowledge?


Edited by Ruben (07/22/10 07:47 PM)
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#427215 - 07/22/10 08:12 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: Roger]
M.D. Roche Offline
Banned

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Albany, New York
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#427216 - 07/22/10 08:23 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: M.D. Roche]
Roger Offline
Banned

Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 81
Loc: NJ
Nice to hear from you again in a better environment. I left the other area because you were getting attacked by some angry person, and it was jamming up our conversation. However, there is an unlimited amount of information here. And frankly, I'm overwhelmed. I'm not sure where to start. Point me to the path, so I may travel alone!
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#427217 - 07/22/10 08:30 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: M.D. Roche]
Roger Offline
Banned

Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 81
Loc: NJ
After visiting your link, I feel like my concerns are "old news".

LOL! I'd better get with the program and start reading other stuff on the beach besides medical research!!!
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Only the weak ask for mercy, the strong accept the consequences of their actions without regard for the outcome (punishment)!

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#427218 - 07/22/10 08:40 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: Roger]
M.D. Roche Offline
Banned

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Albany, New York
Yeah, many others have left The Undercroft too because it is horribly under-moderated, unlike this forum. Fortunately that will change with the new version, which will hopefully be released very soon.

For starters, just stick with the essential texts, which are listed on the CoS website. When you think of something that may not have been covered, check the essays on the Theory/Practice page of the CoS website. If you still need help, do a search on LTTD, and if your question is REALLY unique, feel free to start a new thread.
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#427220 - 07/22/10 08:52 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: M.D. Roche]
Roger Offline
Banned

Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 81
Loc: NJ
There is so much to read and learn, I hope I meet my quota. I don't want to get deleted! I need to catch up on the writings and join the CoS.
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Only the weak ask for mercy, the strong accept the consequences of their actions without regard for the outcome (punishment)!

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#427222 - 07/22/10 09:36 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: M.D. Roche]
DanielM Offline



Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 24
Loc: Kintuhkee, Yew-Ess-Ay
> I studied philosophy at the bachelor and then the graduate level, and I discovered that everything Ayn Rand claimed to have originated, she cribbed from a long tradition; and everyone she ever cites, she mischaracterizes in a grossly distorted way [...] (The idea that Kant or Mill are collectivist hippies is just nuts.)

I had one philosophy course in college, a survey of several different philosophers and religious figures, including Kant. It was required, and since I was a typical freshman (more interested in getting buzzed and trying to get laid than doing actual work), I did just enough to get an acceptable grade. I didn't encounter Objectivism until after I was out of school. My reaction when I saw Rand's opinion about Kant was "all right, I was probably half-drunk when I read that chapter of the text, but I sure don't remember him being like that." I suspect that if Rand had ever compiled a list of those who in her opinion were the most evil persons who ever lived, Kant would have been at or near the top. I had to consider two possibilities. If she was correct in her assessment, my (and my classmates') utter failure to even glimpse his malignant evil was as if we had read a summary of Mein Kampf and come away with the impression that Hitler was just a particularly imaginative social planner! On the other hand, Rand's oft-repeated claim of owing "no intellectual debt to anyone other than Aristotle" immediately made her suspect the first time I saw that claim. Re-reading Kant was something I meant to get around to doing, but never did -- I just assumed that Rand's beef with Kant was of the sort of personal hatred which sometimes occurs between competing scholars in academia, except that in this case it was one-way and the other party happened to be long dead. Many of Rand's ideas, whether original or not (and I'll gladly defer to you on that), were brilliant but Rand herself was a deeply flawed person IMO.

> I had a hard time relating to TSW. While Dr. LaVey's theories are interesting, if not amusing (i.e. I like Ranch dressing, therefore I'm queer), I take them with a pinch of salt.

LOL -- huh?! smile I've always been a blue cheese man, myself ... I wonder what that makes me? I took your suggestion and started The Satanic Scriptures, but I may have to do a quick detour.

> One of my roles on this message board, apparently, is to point people to this essay

It clarified several things for me -- thanks!

Danny
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#427223 - 07/22/10 09:42 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
Phineas Offline
CoS Magister

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 8275
I had a hard time relating to TSW. While Dr. LaVey's theories are interesting, if not amusing...

Dr. LaVey was not theorizing. He wrote from experience, practical applications and in depth observations of actual life situations.

This applies to just about everything he wrote.
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#427224 - 07/22/10 10:04 PM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
reprobate Offline

CoS Warlock

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
Quote:
I just assumed that Rand's beef with Kant was of the sort of personal hatred which sometimes occurs between competing scholars in academia

Ayn Rand got her BA in Soviet Russia (she studied philosophy as part of her 3-year degree programme in "social pedagogy" at Petrograd State University). My theory is that she was taught distorted, Communized versions of the great Western liberal thinkers. The Soviets had the agenda of impressing upon students that Communism was the ultimate culmination of Western civilization, and that all previous thinkers had been precursors to Communism. In particular, they wanted to portray liberalism as a deficient ideology whose internal shortcomings make Communism the ultimate logical conclusion. This involves grotesquely distorting liberal thinkers like Kant and Mill, but my belief is that Rand bought into this idea, and when she rejected Communism, she rejected (their version of) the earlier thinkers, too. Now, all of this is just conjecture, but I think it's telling she never cites extensive passages of those philosophers in their original languages. Anyway, that's my theory.
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#427244 - 07/23/10 05:29 AM Re: Yet another newbie introduction [Re: DanielM]
Machismo Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 1132
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: DanielM
My reaction when I saw Rand's opinion about Kant was "all right, I was probably half-drunk when I read that chapter of the text, but I sure don't remember him being like that."


Here is a very good article explaining Rand's reaction to Kant in depth:
Immanuel Kant: Ayn Rand's Intellectual Enemy

Here are some key sentences from the above, which, if you read them while placing yourself in Ayn Rand's head, you should be able to view with the same nausea that she would have viewed them with:

He [Kant] argues that human knowledge is subjective because it is not relevant to “things in themselves.” Real truth is unknowable because to know it a person would have to relate to reality directly without depending upon his conceptual mechanism.

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Kant explains that man’s categories or concepts form a collective delusion from which no human being can escape. In essence, Kant’s gimmick involved switching the collective for the objective when he advanced the idea of common mental categories collectively creating a phenomenal world. He also reassigned the validity of reason from its place in the objective world to the collective delusional world. Reality as perceived by man’s mind is a distortion and man’s mind is a distorting faculty.

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Kant’s concern is with judgments that can be known with certainty. He says that this disqualifies reason because of a priori limitations on what can be known via reason. Because the mind’s categories are limited to appearances, knowledge of the real world is foreclosed. The inability to know reality leads to relativism and skepticism.

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According to Kant, the deepest level of reality is inaccessible to human rationality. For him, rational certainty is impossible. He says that to “know” the other higher reality that is teleologically ordered and exempt from time, space, causality, etc., a man needs to turn to feeling, intuition, or faith that exists in the form of pure a priori judgments or intuitions. Kant’s solution was to try to demonstrate that the “real” and the “ought” rests in something called pure reason that is metaphysically intrinsic to all persons. He said that the “real” and the “ought” are different form what we know through experience. Kant contends that intellectual intuition (i.e., pure reason) has the function of accessing these a priori ideas.

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Kant assigns one’s emotions the power to know the metaphysically superior “unknowable” noumenal world by indefinable means that he termed “pure reason.” Pure reason resides in a special inexplicable or incomprehensible instinct for duty. Duty is a categorical impulse that one “just knows.” Kant held that an action is moral only if a person performs it out of a special sense of duty. Morality is therefore derived through feelings from the noumenal dimension of reality. Duty involves inspiration supplied by, or emanating from, noumenal reality itself. Given his reliance on the noumenal realm, Kant makes morality appear to be mystical.

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Kant’s moral philosophy deprives self-interest of any and all honor. The rejection of self-interest is also a rejection of all human values and goals because to pursue one’s self interest means to pursue values and goals.

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Kant says that an act is moral only if no benefit of any kind is derived from it. He excludes all personal desires and benefits from the realm of morality. To be moral, a man must perform his duty without reference to any personal goals, values, or effects on his own life and happiness. A benefit destroys the moral value of an action.

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What Kant has done is to allow man’s reason to conquer the material (i.e., the phenomenal) world but eliminates reason from the choice of the goals or ends for which men’s material achievements are to be employed. Kant assigned the unreal material world to science and reason but left morality to faith. Science and reason are limited and valid only as long as they are conceived with a fixed determined collective delusion. The higher reality, the noumenal world, dictates to man the rules of morality through a special manifestation, the categorical imperative, which involves a special sense of duty known through intuition or feeling.

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Kant thus denied that anything done to secure one’s own well-being and flourishing can have any moral significance. For Kant, morality does not and cannot involve the virtue of prudence (i.e., practical wisdom). He sees a distinct division between prudence and morality.

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Kant holds that the pursuit of a person’s own happiness or interest is of no moral worth whatsoever. He insists that we can never determine whether or not an action is good or right by considering its effect on one’s happiness.
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