Sunday, November 29, 2015

On the 'devil' of Semantics--from Satanism to Theism

Alice wrote...

"...there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —' [Humpty Dumpty]

'Certainly,' said Alice.

'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.


'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
--

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything...'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'
Through the Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
--

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland
--

Consider the current promotion of The Satanic Temple's new ethics:

– "One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
– The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
– One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
– The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
– Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
– People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
– Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word."
http://valerietarico.com/2015/11/27/seven-satanic-precepts-beat-ten-commandments-as-moral-guide/

These new precepts are marvelous, very good and reasonable, the sort of points that every single human concerned with goodness, justice, and compassion could strongly affirm and practice.

Yes, the precepts represent humanism at its best.

Then why do the supporters of such meaningful ethical statements declare them to be "Satanic"?


What do such humanistic ethics have to do with the selfish ethics from Anton LeVay? For instance, his claim that--

"Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
and
"Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right."

Note that instead of "compassion and empathy towards all creatures," LeVay's focus is on might makes right, wrath, greed, envy, lust, etc.


Of course, like Humpty Dumpty, Satanists can claim the word "Satanism" means anything they want the word to mean.

But many people will misunderstand. Again, why pick a name, Satanism, which represents the exact opposite of compassion and empathy?

Semantics are such a tough issue, like climbing the moon. Read and understand.

from http://www.vice.com/read/unmasking-lucien-greaves-aka-doug-mesner-leader-of-the-satanic-temple
by Shane Bugbee:

"Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple, who first showed up at my door over a decade ago, would fall into the former category. He was a young man, too smart for his own good. He wanted a copy of a book I had republished called Might Is Right. It was a 100-year-old tome, long forgotten by most, with the exception of Anton LaVey, who'd found it in a bookstore as a young man and used it as the basis for The Satanic Bible."


"I asked Anton to write an introduction, and he jumped at the opportunity to introduce the book to the world again. By way of thanks Anton invited me to his home and made me a high priest in the Church of Satan."
Shane Bugbee

Doug Mesner: "I illustrated an edition of Might Is Right,
the text of which LaVey had built
The Satanic Bible from,
and which you published—along
with a forward by LaVey—when
you were running Michael Hunt Publishing."
and
"And, yes, we are adding to LaVey. LaVey is an excellent
jumping-off point, but his work was a product of its time,
and it’s appropriate to recontexualize it to today’s reality."


"Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible was released in 1969, and contained no indication of the antihuman doctrine alleged by hysterical anti-Satanists."

"I met you, Shane [the interviewer], and you were a priest in the Church of Satan who was conferred with that title by Anton LaVey himself."
http://www.vice.com/read/unmasking-lucien-greaves-aka-doug-mesner-leader-of-the-satanic-temple



Now, don't those remarks sound like the Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan?

Like the Satanic Bible and the book Might is Right?

Like Anton LaVay, Doug Mesner, and Shane Bugbee agree about a lot?

They seem to have a common philosophy and similar bad ethics. LeVay, Mesner, and Bugbee all appear to be for "might is right."

Notice how the official graphics are very similar, too.
There are some differences; read the full interview to see
how Mesner does "recontexualize it to today’s reality."

No where do Mesner and Bugbee deny or diassociate themselves from LeVay's central unethical views, except for "social Darwinism." And even there, Mesner doesn't claim that "social Darwninism" is always wrong, but that only the times have changed.

Yet modern Satanists want people to understand that their view--Santanism--is completely different from the Church of Satan, the Satanic Bible, and Anton LeVay's unethical views.

Yes, like Humpty Dumpty exclaimed, any word can mean exactly what the person in power wants it to mean. Almost all scholars think that words are "empty-buckets" which can carry any meaning including definitions totally contrary to what they meant last year, last decade, last century.

Think of all the changes humans have made to words. For instance, for most people, "free" means that we can make choices, aren't controlled/determined by Fate, Jehovah, or Allah, or the meaningless Cosmos.

Yet, Augustinian-Reformed Christians and almost all Muslims claim "free" means that you only can do what God has foreordained. Their leaders point out that a bullet is "free" because nothing is stopping it from shooting toward its target.

Hello! That isn't "free" in the sense most people mean.

This happened back in the Vietnam War. Words related to war were given new meanings which confused people and caused much destruction. All of this semantic change reminded many people of 1984 by George Orwell where the Machiavellian rulers drastically change what important ethical words mean.

It is very important, too, to remember that words come with heavy historical connotations, and that it takes years for humans to make the transition to a totally contrary definition of a term.

It would seem much better to coin a new word or to use a word not heavily freighted with evil, injustice, slaughter, abuse, etc. like Satanism has been.

Rather than spending hours explaining to people that the new Satanism of the Satanic Temple is different from the Satanism of the Church of Satan, use a more accurate term that clearly explains your worldview. Especially when interviews such as the one referenced are contrary to what the Satanic Temple says are its actual ethics!

Do these unethical statements from LeVay's The Satanic Bible sound like humanistic ones?

"In the closing of the The Book of Satan in The Satanic Bible, LaVey compiled a list of characteristics he endorsed versus those he condemned, adapted from the list found in Might is Right:

Blessed are the strong for they shall possess the earth
Cursed are the weak for they shall inherit the yoke
Blessed are the powerful for they shall be reverenced among men
Cursed are the feeble for they shall be blotted out

Blessed are the bold for they shall be masters of the world
Cursed are the righteously humble for they shall be trodden under cloven hoofs
Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right

Cursed are the vanquished for they shall be vessels forever
Blessed are the iron-handed, the unfit shall flee before them
Cursed are the poor in spirit for they shall be spat upon

Blessed are the death defiant, their days shall be long in the land
Cursed are the gazers toward a richer life beyond the grave, for they shall perish amidst plenty
Blessed are the destroyers of false hope for they are the true messiahs

Cursed are the God-adorers for they shall be shorn sheep
Blessed are the valiant for they shall obtain great treasure
Cursed are the believers of good and evil for they are frightened by shadows...


The Nine Satanic Statements

Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates.
Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.

Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
Satan represents man as just another animal (sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours),
who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development", has become the most vicious animal of all.

Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.[39]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaVeyan_Satanism

Confusing isn't it?

In the new statement, the Satanists share, "One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason."

But other Satanists like LeVay state,

"Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates,"
"Cursed are the poor in spirit for they shall be spat upon,"
and
"Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right."

But what in 'hell' does compassion and empathy have to do with the list of the Church of Satan--taking power, not wasting your time with some humans, being indulgent, and getting vengeance?





In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

4 comments:

Yekaterina Haussler said...

The words "Satanism" and "Satan" are not "negative" for me. Ever since I read "Master and Margarita" by M. Bulgakov, my understanding of the "good" and "evil" has expanded. As for Satanism, I understand their main concern and belief is personal responsibility. Human is one of the animals on this Earth, so we, as animals, possess certain animal qualities. Rather than being ashamed of them and calling them "sins", isn't it better to indulge, experience, and accept oneself as an animal?
Then again, that all depends on the personal choice. Nobody is asking anyone to do anything against their will. After befriending and having had regular talks with a long-time Satanist, I learned from him one principle: "Behave like a decent animal."
Many words have changed meaning since their invention. I used to think "Do as You Will, Harm None" meant do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt anybody. Then, after reading thoughts of Crowley on the subject, I learned that "Will" is actually one's Higher Destiny. So - not do as you want, but do as your Destiny commands you. You mention freedom? I think Ancient Greeks and Romans understood a lot about its limitations - thus they acknowledged Fate. In today's world (presumably without Fate), are we free? of course not... We are only as free as our personal and financial circumstances allow us to be.
As for the Seven Rules, switch the view from personal to public - and it will all become clearer. Do we hear of heroes in history books? Only of the victorious ones. How do they win - by kind word, or by sword? Mostly by sword. Then, they (and their servants) write history to make themselves look heroic and glorious... While the "weak" are forgotten, because they were defeated.
Thank you.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Katya,

This doesn't sound at all like your concern for human rights, and for those who are innocent but locked up in jail and scheduled for execution.

Then you wrote, "Do we hear of heroes in history books? Only of the victorious ones. How do they win - by kind word, or by sword? Mostly by sword."

Yes, that's why the Christian Church got away with murdering millions of humans, burning them at the stake, etc.

And why Muhammad did much of the same--because they had the might! And according to new and old Satanists "Might is Right."

A few heroes show up, but they usually get slaughtered by the those with the weapons. Martin Luther King Jr. for instance.

Yekaterina Haussler said...

Daniel,
There is a misunderstanding. I do not claim to be a Satanist, I simply state that I respect their views and (try to) understand them. If you and I are allowed to have our beliefs, why not them?
Also, I did not say that I supported the public version of historical events. I simply realize that world history is taught from the point of view of the victors. Again, not supporting, simply acknowledging the fact.
Is it right or wrong? Moral or immoral? Either way, it exists. Crying over something's - or someone's - immorality is a waste of tears.
Thank you.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Sorry, I misunderstood you Katya.

Here's why I misunderstood: You wrote, "Satanism" and "Satan" are not "negative" for me. Ever since I read "Master and Margarita" by M. Bulgakov, my understanding of the "good" and "evil" has expanded. As for Satanism, I understand their main concern and belief is personal responsibility....Rather than being ashamed of them and calling them "sins", isn't it better to indulge, experience, and accept oneself as an animal?"

No. In the past, Satanists have emphasized that they do believe in living the sins of "might is right," wrath, greed, envy, lust, etc., NOT compassion and empathy.

I agree that all humans should be "allowed to have their beliefs," BUT when those beliefs turn to actions which severely harm, even kill, then they lose their rights.

I do know the history of Satanism, and it 'ain't' good.

#2 All humans, even I.S.I.S. and right-wing killers, so of course Satanists, too, deserve to be treated as having value.

BUT ideas aren't like individuals. Some ideas don't deserve respect. Nazism doesn't. Satanism doesn't. Stalinism doesn't. (Right now I am reading a powerful biography, Young Stalin, so that is why it's on my mind.)

#3 You wrote, "Crying over something's - or someone's - immorality is a waste of tears."

Hmm...I'm not primarily weeping, but very concerned with the wrong that Satanists and others foist on humanity, leading us down to horrific dead ends.

The Temple of Satan claims it has changed and is no longer satanic in the historical sense of the word (such as LeVay's Church of Satan).

Based on the readings I've done this week, that appears not to be true. But I hope they really are reforming. And, then I suggest a name change.

If you don't mind, here's a little Kurt Vonnegetish satire about the sudden change by the Satanic Church and why semantics are important:

(Copied from another website where I posted it when I was feeling very satirical:-)

--
Satanism in the past has stood for the exact opposite of compassion. Why the change?

I'm feeling the spirit of Kurt Vonnegut;-) coming upon me! I'm being led to start a new movement of justice and racial equality called Nazism!

You don't understand? Why are we calling this new movement “Nazism”? Because we want to shock people by equating equality with "might is right." Of course, you need to explain to baffled people that we aren’t like the Nazis in the Third Reich Germany of Adolf Hitler, because we, in contrast, do support integration, equality, and justice.

Why do you look confused;-)?
----

Looks like we disagree again:-)

But thanks for the dialog.