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#80221 - 02/18/05 08:24 AM LaVey and Spinoza
hannibal Offline


Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 66
Loc: NJ
In The Satanic Bible, "Wanted! God Dead or Alive", LaVey says, "It is a popular misconception that the Satanist does not believe in God....To the Satanist "God"-by whatever name he is called, or by no name at all-is seen as the balancing factor in nature, and not as being concerned with suffering. This powerful force which permeates and balances the universe is far too impersonal to care about the happiness or misery of flesh-and-blood creatures on this ball of dirt upon which we live."

I am not an expert in philosophy, but I am struck by the similarity of this statement, and the pantheism espoused by Spinoza.
Some quotes by Spinoza: The perfection of things is to be reckoned only from their own nature and power; things are not more or less perfect, according as they delight or offend human senses, or according as they are serviceable or repugnant to mankind. [i. Appendix]

God is without passions, neither is he affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain . . . Strictly speaking, God does not love anyone. [V.17]

He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return. [V.19]


While Satanism, as I understand it is concerned with the individual, and not the existence or nonexistence of a god, LaVey does talk about the dark forces.

Does this interest anyone else...or do I have way too much time on my hands?
_________________________
"I'm not a slave to a god who doesn't exist...and I'm not a slave to a world that doesn't give a shit!" Rev. Marilyn Manson

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#80222 - 02/18/05 09:47 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: hannibal]
Lucrative_sin Offline
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Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 33
Loc: Texas
There are also similar quotes in Ben Franklin's "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion".

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#80223 - 02/18/05 10:10 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: hannibal]
reprobate Offline

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Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
Ooh!

I'm very excited about this post, because I love Spinoza. I'm writing my Master's thesis on his political philosophy (he is the only canon philosopher to insist that strength, rather than moral legitimacy, is the basis of law in this world -- not even Hobbes went that far).

I don't think Anton LaVey ever read Spinoza. Still, there is a great deal in Spinoza's thought that will appeal to Satanists -- his extreme ethical subjectivism, his doctrine of absolute Nature and his total denial of the Transcendent, his political/legal philosophy based on the notion that might makes right (in the legal sense -- jus, prerogative).

His ultimate thesis is that the "intellectual love of God" is the highest human achievement and the most powerful emotion. "God" is a technical term for Spinoza; it means "that greater than which nothing can be, nor can be conceived". This was a Scholastic term that he basically expropriated for his own designs; he pointed out that this is really Nature. In modern terms, Spinoza's thesis means that the appreciation and celebration of Natural necessity as the immanent source and condition of all experience can give us the perspective we need to prepare ourselves to deal with hardship and to govern our passions. Our own love of this life and its delights can see us through it; we don't need life to be validated by an outside Savior. (Spinoza is singular among the pre-19th century canon philosophers for saying that love of life, rather than reason, is what puts all passions into perspective.)

At the same time, there's a lot in Spinoza to challenge a reader coming from a Satanic perspective. For example, Spinoza uses the doctrine of "might is right" to argue for liberal democracy. This is partly what my thesis is about.

The philosopher Nietzsche once said that of all the philosophers he'd ever read, he could only say that Spinoza was a kindred spirit. He attributed the differences (Spinoza's use of the word "God" to describe the absolute, the geometric order, his political emphasis and social contract theory) to differences in culture between the 17th and 19th centuries.

I think every Satanist should read the Theological-Political Treatise and Ethics demonstrated in geometrical order (focusing on the prefaces, propositions and scholia, especially parts 3-5; don't get bogged down in the demonstrations, and if you don't understand a proposition you can go back to it later and see if it makes more sense then).

Here are a couple of quotes from Spinoza:

On ethical subjectivism:
Quote:

{W}e do not endeavor, will, seek after or desire because we judge a thing to be good. On the contrary, we judge a thing good because we endeavor, will, seek after and desire it. (Ethics part 3 proposition 9 scholium, p. 284)




Quote:

By 'good' I understand here every kind of pleasure and furthermore whatever is conducive thereto, and especially whatever satisfies a longing of any sort. By 'bad' I understand every kind of pain, and especially that which frustrates a longing. For I have demonstrated ({in the passage quoted above}) that we do not desire a thing because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we call the object of our desire good, and consequently the object of our aversion bad. Therefore, it is according to his emotion that everyone judges or deems what is good, bad, better, worse, best or worst.... {E}very man judges a thing good or bad, advantageous or disadvantageous, according to his own emotion. (Ethics part 3 proposition 39 scholium, pp. 298-299)




Quote:

As for the terms `good' and `bad', they likewise indicate nothing positive in things considered in themselves, and are nothing but modes of thinking, or notions which we form from comparing things with one another. For one and the same thing can at the same time be good and bad, and also indifferent. For example, music is good for one who is melancholy, bad for one in mourning, and neither good nor bad for the deaf. (Ethics part 4 preface, p. 321)




On 'natural law':
Quote:

Now since it is the supreme law of Nature that each thing endeavours to persist in its present being, as far as in it lies, taking account of no other thing but itself, it follows that each individual has the sovereign right ... to exist and to act as it is naturally determined. And here I do not acknowledge any distinction between men and other individuals of Nature, nor between men endowed with reason and others to whom true reason is unknown, nor between fools, madmen and the sane. Whatever an individual thing does by the laws of its own nature, it does with sovereign right, inasmuch as it acts as determined by Nature, and can do no other. Therefore among men, as long as they are considered as living under the rule of Nature alone, he who is not yet acquainted with reason or has not yet acquired a virtuous disposition lives under the sole control of appetite with as much sovereign right as he who conducts his life under the rule of reason. That is to say, just as the wise man has the sovereign right to do all that reason dictates, i.e. to live according to the laws of reason, so, too, a man who is ignorant and weak-willed has the sovereign right to do all that is urged on him by appetite, i.e. to live according to the laws of appetite....

Thus the natural right of every man is determined not by sound reason, but by his desire and his power. For not all men are naturally determined to act in accordance with the rules and laws of reason. On the contrary, all men are born in a state of complete ignorance, and before they can learn the true way of life and acquire a virtuous disposition, even if they have been well brought up, a great part of their life has gone by. Yet in the meantime they have to live and preserve themselves as far as in them lies, namely, by the urging of appetite alone, for Nature has given them nothing else and has denied them the actualised power to live according to sound reason.... Thus whatever every man, when he is considered solely under the dominion of Nature, believes to be to his advantage, whether under the guidance of sound reason or under passion's sway, he may by sovereign natural right seek and get for himself by any means, by force, deceit, entreaty or in any other way he best can, and he may consequently regard as his enemy anyone who tries to hinder him from getting what he wants.

From this it follows that Nature's right and her established order, under which all men are born and for the most part live, forbids only those things that no one desires and no one can do; it does not frown on strife, or hatred, or anger, or deceit, or on anything at all urged by appetite. This is not surprising, for Nature's bounds are not set by the laws of human reason which aim only at man's true interest and his preservation, but by infinite other laws which have regard to the eternal order of the whole of Nature, of which man is but a particle. It is from the necessity of this order alone that all individual things are determined to exist and to act in a definite way. (Theological-Political Treatise chapter 16 paragraphs 4-6, pp. 527-528)




On reason:
Quote:

Since reason demands nothing contrary to nature, it therefore demands that every man should love himself, should seek his own advantage (I mean his real advantage), should aim at whatever really leads a man toward greater perfection, and, to sum it all up, that each man, as far as in him lies, should endeavor to preserve his own being. (Ethics part 4 proposition 18 scholium, p. 330)




On the good life:
Quote:

{I}t is the part of a wise man to make use of things and to take pleasure in them as far as he can (but not to the point of satiety, for that is not taking pleasure). It is, I repeat, the part of a wise man to refresh and invigorate himself in moderation with good food and drink, as also with perfumes, with the beauty of blossoming plants, with dress, music, sporting activities, theaters, and the like, in which every man can indulge without harm to another. For the human body is composed of many parts of various kinds which are continually in need of fresh and varied nourishment so that the entire body may be equally capable of all the functions that follow from its own nature, and consequently that the mind may be equally capable of simultaneously understanding many things. So this manner of life is in closest agreement both with our principles and with common practice. (Ethics part 4 proposition 45 scholium, p. 345. This passage occurs in the course of a discussion on the merits of laughter and merriment.)




All of these quotes are from Benedictus de Spinoza, Complete Works, translated by Mr Samuel Shirley and published by Hackett in 2002.


Edited by reprobate (02/18/05 10:20 AM)

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#80224 - 02/18/05 10:31 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: reprobate]
Mr_Atrox Offline
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Registered: 09/16/03
Posts: 1814
Loc: Lycopolis
I shall have to acquire those works post-haste.

Spinoza has long been on my list of to-dos.

For the time being, it appears I'll have to shelve Dostoevsky and Voltaire.

Thank you for that marvelous, well-informed response.

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#80225 - 02/18/05 10:31 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: hannibal]
lastlament Offline


Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 106
Loc: England
Greetings

I'm a philosophy grad; my 'specialism' is language (I'm writing a thesis in this area) and maths. I have an interest in metaphysics and ethics.

As I understand Pantheism, don't pantheists generally believe that god is not a person, or anything that could usefully be described as being like a person? And this leads to difficulties for Spinoza and his 'Unity', if one accepts that he is a monist. Perhaps you would advance this position to Hegel's 'Reality'?

Tell me more.

Hail Satan!
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#80226 - 02/18/05 10:49 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: lastlament]
reprobate Offline

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Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
Quote:

As I understand Pantheism, don't pantheists generally believe that god is not a person, or anything that could usefully be described as being like a person? And this leads to difficulties for Spinoza and his 'Unity', if one accepts that he is a monist.


Why would this be a problem? "Unity" here is unity of substance (by the Scholastic definition: that whose identity or essence does not depend on something else). God = Nature = Substance.

Basically this means everything in this world depends on everything else for its specific constitution, except the whole (Deus sive Natura), which is self-dependent. The whole universe is one big eternal process of becoming, flux, admixture, reciprocal influence.

However, we should bear in mind that Spinoza never called himself a "pantheist"; that's a later (18th or 19th) century's attempt to categorize him.

(By the way -- I'm no expert on Hegel, but from what I understand, the difference between their notions of the world consists in this: For Hegel, everything that happened was governed by a rational progression of ideals, in a dialectical process of cosmic refinement. For Spinoza, the world is already perfect, and the transformations that occur are part of its dynamic necessary perfection. They aren't "rational" because they aren't governed by ideas. Does this help?)


Edited by reprobate (02/18/05 11:22 AM)
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#80227 - 02/18/05 10:56 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: reprobate]
Mr_Atrox Offline
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Registered: 09/16/03
Posts: 1814
Loc: Lycopolis
His observations on the nature of 'ethics' are excellent!

All is truly subjective. There can be no separation between our desires/aversions and what we then consider 'good' and 'bad'. There are shared/mass subjective predilictions, and this phenomenon many label objective standard or rather, an intrinsic sense of 'right' or 'wrong' and desirable or undesirable.
However, they all boil down to what Spinoza explained so well.
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#80228 - 02/18/05 11:04 AM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: Mr_Atrox]
reprobate Offline

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Well, Spinoza distinguishes three things.

First, what brings us pleasure and what pain.

Second, what is good for us (ie., brings us closer to our ideal circumstances) even if it is painful or neutral, and what is bad for us (brings us further from our ideal) even if it is pleasurable.

Third, what is good or bad according to conventional morals.

The last category is created by solipsism, when people project their judgments and ideals onto others. The other two kinds of standard are healthy for human beings to develop for themselves.
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#80229 - 02/18/05 12:26 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: reprobate]
hannibal Offline


Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 66
Loc: NJ
I am glad I hit a positiver nerve. As I said, I am not as well read in philosophy as some others, but my sense was that Spinoza was essentially saying the same thing that we say. His language was a product of his time. His ethics, however, were Satanic in nature. Very well thought out, I believe.

What also interested me also was, "It is a popular misconception that the Satanist does not believe in God". I have to remember that I opened up to Satanism as a strict atheist. I do not believe that is true of LaVey. The atheist/theist dichotomy is both unnatural and unecessary. If I am correct, a Satanist simply accepts things as they are. If something can be changed that the Satanist wants changed, the will is used to create change. Sounds familiar...oh, yeah...Sinoza, in so many words.

I am especially interested in Spinoza's view that ethics is ammoral, and situational. He is able to put in words what I have always felt. Something is right if it is right for me, and to my advantage; and wrong if the converse is true.

Thank you for the comments. If my read on Spinoza is wrong, please, let me know.
_________________________
"I'm not a slave to a god who doesn't exist...and I'm not a slave to a world that doesn't give a shit!" Rev. Marilyn Manson

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#80230 - 02/18/05 12:59 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: hannibal]
Assabrah Offline
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Registered: 01/17/05
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some cabalists compare their work with some texts by Spinoza. I have here something that could explain, but unfortunelly, it's in french language.

well, this unity could make a reference about the trinity. in few words 3 is 1.
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#80231 - 02/18/05 01:09 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: Assabrah]
reprobate Offline

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Spinoza, an anathematized Jew, thought Qabalah was garbage, and said so in writing. The case could be made that some of the concepts of Qabalah influenced his thoughts (especially concepts that resonated with Neo-Platonism), but only insofar as they prompted a really radical re-construal of them. So although he grew up in an environment where Qabalah was a significant presence, his thought is definitely not Cabbalistic.

He also thought the Trinity was unusable as a concept.
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#80232 - 02/18/05 01:11 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: hannibal]
reprobate Offline

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I recall reading (though I can't remember where -- it was in a book by Magistra Barton) that Anton LaVey's mother would say that "God" basically means the same thing as nature, and this had a lasting influence on him. (That's also basically what "religion" I was raised with.)
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#80233 - 02/18/05 01:37 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: reprobate]
Assabrah Offline
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Posts: 2062
i agree, but say that to jews involved in cabala.
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#80234 - 02/18/05 01:51 PM Re: Spinoza [Re: Assabrah]
reprobate Offline

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Well, Spinoza did tell them that, among other things.

Which is why, when he was 24, he was summoned by the elders of his synagogue to clean up his act and repent. Or they would have to excommunicate him.

He told them he was very grateful for all they had taught him about his people's traditions and language. And to prove how well he had learned the Hebrew language, he would be willing to pronounce the excommunication himself.

They were not happy, and wrote this:
Quote:

By sentence of the angels, by the decree of the saints, we anathematise, cut off, curse, and execrate Baruch Spinoza, in the presence of these sacred books with the six hundred and thirteen precepts which are written therein, with the anathema wherewith Joshua anathematised Jericho; with the cursing wherewith Elisha cursed the children; and with all the cursings which are written in the book of the law; cursed be he by day, and cursed by night; cursed when he lieth down; cursed when he riseth up; cursed when he goeth out, and cursed when he goeth in; The Lord shall not pardon him, the wrath and the fury of the Lord shall henceforth be kindled against this man, and shall lay upon him all the curses written in the Book of the Law. The Lord shall destroy his name under the sun, and cut him off for his undoing from all the tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the firmament which are written in the Law.

...

And we warn you that none may speak with him by word of mouth nor by writing, nor show any favor unto him, nor be under one roof with him, nor come within four cubits of him, nor read any paper composed by him.


For a Jew in 1650's Amsterdam, this meant he was totally cut off from all business connections and all family support, including his share of the business. He did this willingly because he was so sick of their bullshit. He made his living grinding lenses for telescopes and microscopes.

Later, a member of his former congregation stabbed him because he denied the authority of the Law, and said prophecy came from the imagination (in the Theological-Political Treatise). He kept the jacket he'd been wearing that day, never mending the knife-rend, as a reminder of what people will do when their narrow self-conceptions are challenged.


Edited by reprobate (02/18/05 01:54 PM)
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#80235 - 02/18/05 01:53 PM Re: LaVey and Spinoza [Re: reprobate]
hannibal Offline


Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 66
Loc: NJ
Quote:

I recall reading (though I can't remember where -- it was in a book by Magistra Barton) that Anton LaVey's mother would say that "God" basically means the same thing as nature, and this had a lasting influence on him. (That's also basically what "religion" I was raised with.)




I hear that. What keeps me from going there is that "God" is a loaded word for me. It gets the same reaction from me as Hail Satan! would get in a pentacostal church .
Maybe...in time...like a few centuries, I can go there.

BUT...when reading Spinoza, and certain quotes by LaVey, I will keep that in mind. Thanks!
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