Intro to The Tree of Life + The Thoth Deck (article in Goatfucker issue #1)
NATURE II ( An Example of Nietzschean Thought against the morality of Christian monotheism, non-guilt ridden monotheism is O.K. by me. Hail ELOHIM!)
Those who worship the Christian God have a very different outlook on life when compared to those who worship the Greek gods. Each person dwelling within the systems provided by these religions obtain an ethical code that guides them with the so-very genuine intention to please their immortal spectator(s). I’m quite interested in seeing how the recognizable differences between these deities affect the feeling of obligation to please the relevant divine eyes, and what type of moral psychology arises when submerged within either system.
Pursuing this further, I argue that the worship of one entirely perfect deity results in a life that becomes a punishing, self-mutilating task. We as imperfect beings must imperatively (re) discover the sacred based on what is most familiar and identifiable to man and his world: The Earthly, the natural, the flawed, and the instinctual. In doing so, a tremendous heaviness will be lifted off of mans trembling shoulders, allowing a healthier, more positive, productive ethical life to be conceivable.
I will start by sharing with you the properties and attributes of the Christian God and the Greek gods. Pressing on, I will explain Nietzsche’s Creditor-Debtor relationship from his On the Genealogy of Morality. Lastly, I will tell of Nietzsche’s understanding, found in the same text, on the internalization of the instinct of cruelty. This concept explains what happened to man before and after the Christian God became the maximum God of the masses, and how man’s views and approaches regarding life here on Earth have been drastically altered ever since monotheism became dominant.
The properties attached to the Christian God are very simple, ultimately simple as a matter of fact, allowing for arguments concerning His existence to reign undisputed for such a long long time. This God is omnibenevolent, omnipresent, and omniscient; He and His intentions are always kind, He is everywhere, always watching, all of the time, and He is also all-knowing, able to conceive of all situations before even one occurs, from beginning to end. These three main attributes, these supreme divine features, are found nowhere within any component of natural matter upon our Earth, nor is there any part of the human condition that even hints at one, let alone all three, of these traits. So how can man possibly relate to these? How can these attributes reasonably be grasped? If one “can”, this perfection lurking above, at the very least, constantly pokes you, reminding you of how finite and weak you are in the face of The divine.
The properties of the Greek gods are very different from the former. These gods are not perfect. They are flawed. They have inadequacies just like you, and all of the inhabitants this mighty life-bearing planet contains. They get angry, sad, joyous, and jealous. Even vengeance and seemingly-unjustified cruelty are characteristics we sometimes see unveiled among these gods, such as Bacchus’ seemingly unfair punishment imposed upon Cadmus – a faithful follower toward the beginning of The Bacchae – perfectly willing to go Dance for the deity! (L.180), and yet he is destined to roam the Earth as a serpent during Dionysus’ concluding verdict (L.1330). There is no all-loving perfection. Here, the divine acts parallel the natural behaviors of early man. Yes, they are immortal, of course, but that does not negate the fact that the characteristics of these gods, their nature, mirror the properties of our very own mortal essence. Also reinforcing their familiarity is the fact that most of these gods have some sort of geographical element of our planet connected to their divinity. The mirroring not only takes place among the mortals, but also among our Earth, our home! -Zeus, the master of the Sky and it’s Lightning! Poseidon, commander of the Sea! And Hades, the Lord of the land of the dead! -as well as being the name of the subterranean landscape where the dead reside.
From here, we’ll move into an even more ancient realm, such a beautifully bloody primitive realm, concerning the origins of the moral concept “guilt”. The beginning, the very seed of guilt, is found in the quite material concept of “debt”, within the creditor-debtor relationship of early man. Here the elemental structures of purchase, sale, trade, exchange, and commerce find themselves intertwined among the concepts of injury, pain, and punishment (G.M. II: 4). When we began to apply prices, measure and gauge values, think out equivalents, then swap – this is when man stepped up against man, measuring himself by another man (G.M. II: 8). One man makes a promise to another in order to receive some kind of benefit, the one who owes implants into himself a memory, this memory is infused with a sense of obligation, of duty. The debtor, in order for trust to be present, in order to drill into his own conscience the duty of repayment, vows to give the creditor something which he possesses, something he still has power over (given that the creditor, the one dangling the debt over the man’s head, now has supreme power over him). This promise can range from material goods, to his body or limbs, his wife or child, his land, his freedom, his reputation, his blessedness, even to the salvation of his soul. In the case of non-payment, anything the creditor wants from the debtor. The creditor enacts his punishment, without thinking twice, holding this being in contempt and viewing him as a lower, base person. The creditor then receives a feeling of satisfaction, which substitutes and reimburses the debt owed to him. This is the instinct of cruelty, the enjoyment of doing violence, suffering as compensation for debts. Here the creditor participates in a “right of lords” (G.M II: 5). Here, punishment is to have its worth in the fact that it awakens the feeling of guilt within the debtor (G.M. II: 14). Making one suffer felt good! It is a harsh concept, a primitive concept, most importantly it is a concept of repayment that was capable of being paid off. The creditor must make it known that he is displeased and must make the debtor feel equally displeased and guilty for breaking the contract. The pleasure in cruelty was increased even more so the lower the creditor stood among the ranks of his social order; the more this act of punishment contradicted the rank of the creditor the better he felt making one suffer - it allowed this man to taste the sweetness of a higher status, and in doing so, engaging naturally with his instinct of cruelty (G.M. II: 5). If we also look at this pleasure in cruelty within a comparably modern realm in regard to the latter, at the Comedy festivals of Ancient Greece, where participating peasants and slaves were given permission to lash out, insult, and mock their noblemen, ultimately relishing in the feeling they get from briefly being able to punish their overlords! An expense-free holiday weekend of creditor-debtor role reversal! These were particularly cathartic events that were inextricably woven into the essence of the comedic festival. And here we even see how much punishment resided within that which was festive! (G.M II: 6).
Remaining in this old realm, later than the genesis of the creditor-debtor relationship – earlier than the Greeks and their festivals, we will take on again the civil-law relationship of the debtor to his creditor, interpreted into a relationship which is again far from normal within our modern time: namely the relationship of those presently living to their ancestors! These primeval original clan associations, the generation that is living and thriving, will always acknowledge an authoritative obligation to the founders of the clan, owing their lives to the earliest generation, the ones who made prosperity possible for the later generations. Here, it is of no doubt, that only through the sacrifices and achievements of the ancestors that the clan exists at all! And that one must repay them through sacrifices and achievements of their own. Birthed into the conscience is an acknowledgment of debt that flourishes among the whole clan, for the ancestors of that clan, which continue to exist just as powerfully in the spirit world, still present themselves as benefits and advancements for the present generation. For what? For nothing? There is no such thing as “for nothing” when speaking about these brutal times. They must repay them in some way, either with sacrifices (nourishment), festivals, shrines, tributes, above all obedience. The customs of the ancestors become laws and commands. It is hard to tell if they ever truly repay them enough. If they continue to, successfully, while becoming stronger and more dominant as a clan, an increase ensues among the consciousness of being in debt; the success of the present generation is still owed to the founders of the clan. And here we see the ancestors of the most powerful clans growing, taking on a massive form, being pushed far back into the realm of the divine-beyond and the otherworldly. Finally, in the end, the creditor is transformed into a god! - (G.M II: 20). This is where the historical metaphor lies within the creditor-debtor relationship of early man. We are in debt to our gods, be it the Christian God or the Greek Olympians, but how those debts affect man’s moral psychology is drastically different when under the reign of The Holy God compared to how the Greeks felt under the eyes of their many gods.
Now, the clans of the greatest power begin to have a great deal of influence on the surrounding populations bound under the feudal system to work off their debt, be them slaves or villeins. These weaker communities become familiar with the deities of their lords, mimic their rites, adopt both as their own, (along with the noble clan’s notions of “good and bad”) probably not through choice the majority of the time, most likely through force. And you must have guessed it by now! The adaptation of a lord’s god results in the inheritance of that god’s unpaid debts. The “newly initiated” continue to feel obliged to relieve the debt, they continue to worship, build sanctuaries, and give offerings, those gods get handed down to the next generation, who also continue this method of repayment, and so on... Since this point, and for the next several millennia, the feeling of needing to repay the divine has never ceased to quit. As a matter of fact, without a doubt, upon our Earth, guilt for god expanded exponentially in relation to the concept of god. All genealogical confusion concerning conflicting gods is at the historical root of all ethnic fighting, invasion, conquest, integration, and harmonizing. All attempts to develop universal empires coincide with attempts to develop universal deities. And here we have it, Monotheism in all its glory. The single Holy Father that has occupied the bulk of mans bill. This Christian God ultimately ascended as the maximum deity of the masses, and it has been this way for an outstanding amount of centuries. When this began, an equally massive amount of guilt appeared among Earth and within its forgetful, promising, cruel animal - man (G.M. II: 20).
At this stage, the instincts of cruelty, hostility, assault, change, destruction, and the pleasure in persecution now become devalued and disconnected. The hunger was just as fierce, yet, with a lack of resistive forces, lacking enemies, all the while becoming surrounded and shoved into an oppressive regularity of custom, the previously forceful free spirited wild ones became themselves forced from their animal past, forced to dive into new situations and conditions of existence which declared war against the oh-so familiar instincts that occupied all their energy, desire, and terribleness thus far. These broken instincts with no other outlet, having no way to discharge themselves “normally”, undeniably turned themselves inward and became reflected back toward the proprietor of such reflexes. This internalizing of the instinct of cruelty, the internalizing of man against man himself, is the origin of bad conscience - the origin of the will to self-maltreatment. Man gnaws at himself, punishes himself; he strikes down hard and locks up tight the animal within him. This manimal, in turn, beats itself raw against the bars of its own cage (G.M. II: 16). The cruelty of man has been put to shame, as well as with all of his instincts, and one must punish oneself for being instinctual? One must suffer for being human? Suffering is now always the first mark made in the argument against existence, as it’s nastiest question mark. Before this, a completely opposing judgment was made; man never refused the privilege to release his right to punish others, and when he was able, he became raised up high, enchanted by the sweet sent of the first-rank, interpreting it as a seductive lure to life (G.M. II: 7).
This reversing of the pleasure in cruelty has been fluffed up and translated into such sweet terms so subtly by the Christian - ready at any moment to give out their paradoxical remedy to this self-abused humanity, carrying over to it temporary relief from its self-inflicting pangs: God sacrificing himself for the guilt of man, God as the only one who can redeem from man what has become now irredeemable for man himself, the creditor sacrificing himself for his debtor (G.M. II: 21). In “God” man grasps the most extreme opposites he can find compared to his inescapable animal instincts! These animal instincts are translated as guilt before God, as rebellion against the never satisfied father. This mechanical system becomes an instrument of torture found deep within man. By willing himself to be so guilty, so far in debt, to the point that it cannot possibly be paid off, his instinct continues to circularly lash out against itself, to cause itself pain, to make itself suffer out of pleasure in making suffer. Man imagines himself being punished without the possibility of the punishment ever becoming equivalent to the amount of guilt. And to put the final nail in the coffin, man’s will to erect an ideal – that of the “Holy God” just to be certain how pathetic and absolutely worthless he is when daring to compare himself to the perfect idol. Man has undergone such a monstrous amount of self-torment in order to live an anti-natural life? He punishes himself in order to live a life so Earth-hating, so overwhelmed with guilt, so malformed, feeling so regretful to exist exhibiting our genuine tendencies below the eyes of a supreme being so alien to what is relatable and recognizable (G.M II: 22)? This God demands all of man’s natural inclinations be castrated in the name of sophistication and improvement!? This modern-ness, our righteousness, automatically labels every instinct as wrong and evil so that finally they become slammed into bad conscience! (G.M. II:24). Now you must restrict yourself, set up unbreakable boundaries in the name of a “savior”? This is how the pre-moral concepts of debt have been translated!? Into the heaviest moral guilt!? What a paradoxical unconscious assimilation! What a message so hostile to life! What a contradiction to our nature and to our animal! Oh how did this conception of the world’s purpose flourish so long under such a horrifically sickening misrepresentation!?
Can’t you understand that for the longest time it was completely different! That the reasons for having the gods were in fact reversed! That the animal in man once felt itself deified! How the characteristics of the sacred mirrored the characteristics found upon our Earth and within man himself!
When one looks digestively upon the Greek gods, you see yourself and your home gazing back upon you. This exemplification of ancient man’s noble ideals into the divine was used in order for the Greek to remain cheerful about his lion heart and his child-like eyes! Using that vitality for life to keep bad conscience at arm’s length. Also, these Olympians did not get angry when their people complained to them concerning the evils witnessed upon Earth. They thought of us mortals as somewhat foolish, or unable to comprehend, and did not force their people to punish themselves for having strange minds. But how could these people of the best society, of optimal nobility, of superb happiness not understand the evils of the world? What was that typical answer even the Greek of the strongest bravest age gave when an incomprehensible atrocity occurred to one of his equals? “A god must have beguiled him,” he says shaking his head. The impulse to blame the divine did not in turn cause the divine to condemn the mortals to a life of self-sacrifice. In this sense, the divine were used to justify the actions of humans, even in bad things, being seen through mortal eyes as causes of evil. Feeling guilty for being unable to understand is reasonable, a nobler reflex even; churning your guilt into unfathomable punishment upon yourself for being a fool is not what’s happening here (G.M. II: 23). The instincts of man are not translated as sin. Their natural outlets are not being blocked and restricted, thus they are not being forced to turn inward, against the possessor. The sense of obligation to relieve the debts owed to these gods (and the guilt) is measurable, and do not erupt into some kind of pious psychological warfare. There is no sense of planetary escapism! No sense of alienation while attempting to confront the holy. Man did not tear his own insides to shreds while attempting to harmonize impossible contradictions throughout his lifetime. When one inches closer to knowing how man’s most productive and virtuosic civilization viewed their divine, when one deeply absorbs that the natural environment and behavior of man is what is most divine, then the gods that reign above emanate such familiarity that they become considerably close to being titled “friends”! These Olympian beholders were believed to greatly enjoy watching the child-like freedom, the cruelty, of their vibrant people! (G.M. II: 7) – and all should know how fantastic it is to entertain friends with stories of mishaps and nasty predicaments where your strength prevailed, allegories that were once exciting perilous situations, but now they can be awed at and laughed about among mutual comfort; Tragedies performed at the Dionysia Theatre of ancient Greece mirrored, though maybe exaggerated, the suffering of life. The audience, No! they were not mere audience members! They were worshipers! They where partaking in the divinity of their gods! Oh how blasphemous! Right before their eyes, dramatic moral struggles unfolding around noble men and women, heroes, sometimes demi-gods, just as they thought their gods watched them. These ancient festive plays even allowed the masses to bear witness to how their gods intervened among the mortals, seeing the actual struggles that also took place among the gods, and as I’ve explained earlier, the lower the class a worshiper, the better they felt watching people of a higher rank suffer. And what higher rank than a god! Oh how empowering and inspiring it must be to watch your gods suffer without being forced into taking on the suffering yourself, without punishing yourself!
NATURE I (An Intro Concerning Tree Worship)
Descartes V.S. The Naturalist:
The whole foundation of Descartes’s Trademark Argument is built entirely upon his theory of innate ideas. This is an analytical a priori argument, that is to say his logical foundations in ‘Meditations On First Philosophy’ are based upon him using the intellect and ability to reason to reveal truths about experiences and the senses.
A contrasting argument is that of the Naturalists, which is an a posteriori view, or having the belief that my ability to reason is a part of the natural world, and the senses and experiences of that natural world are all I can trust. This side of thought states that there is no such thing as an innate idea, that I cannot have an accurate understanding of something only through theoretical analysis, and without observation and experience these ideas cannot be verified.
So first, I will begin with explaining Descartes’s theory of innate ideas, as well as his Trademark Argument. Then, I will explain the opposing views of Naturalism in regards to innate ideas. Lastly, I will conclude with how Descartes’s argument fails since it is an a priori one; one that places the idea of an infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, always present God in the category of innate ideas. And since I find no empirical evidence for these ideas existing in the natural world, I cannot be convinced by this argument.
To explain Descartes’s theory of innate ideas I will be using his example considered The Wax Argument. We begin by examining the piece of wax, its components and its attributes. This wax smells of honey, its texture is smooth and cold, it has a specific shape, size and color. If the chunk is tapped upon, a sound occurs. Since we can use all five of our senses to recognize this thing, it appears to attain all of the properties that can be distinctly known about a body or a substance (Meditations, 21). Now we take the piece of wax and bring it over the fire. It begins losing all of its former properties. Changing, in front of our eyes, is its shape, color, size, scent, texture, and temperature. It no longer emits a sound when touched. This wax began as a solid substance, with attributes safely recognizable to all five of our senses, and by raising its temperature its form has changed into a hotter liquid. Nobody has a doubt that what is left is still the same wax as before. So what was so distinct and clear about what was previously grasped by the senses? According to Descartes, the aspects of the piece of wax reached by means of the senses were not reliable, for all of those former properties are gone, but the wax is still before us. Perceiving the wax to be the same as it was before it melted is not due to our senses or our imagination, but strictly because of an inspection of the mind alone (Meditations, 22). And since bodies and substances cannot be accurately recognized through the senses, but can be understood clearly through the intellect, Descartes can determine that the thing most clearly and easily perceived out of all of this is the mind (Meditations, 23).
Given that one’s mind is perceived clearly, it is now simple to understand that one exists. For since the wax is recognizable to the senses, and even more understandable on account of many reasons, there is no way to say that one cannot exist after considering all of this. If the wax exists in front of me, or in my fingers, even if its components are confusing and deceiving, we understand ourselves to exist as a thinking thing. Since we cannot think of ourselves as a non-thinking thing, this moment of self-realization is a very clear and concise idea. I cannot doubt that I exist, that means I exist. Making all things true that are clearly and distinctly perceived through the mind, using our innate ability to reason (Meditations, 24). For an idea to be innate, it must be a clear and concise idea, one that has become known using our faculty of reason and can not be doubted.
This allows us to arrive at the question of whether God is a deceiver or not. Though we actually arrive at the same conclusion, given that if God were deceiving us about the external world that still implies that we exist. For let Him deceive us if he wants, since he will never bring it about that we are nothing; from the fact that I doubt, it follows that I am (Meditations, 25).
But now we return to what we know about things existing outside of ourselves. For example, when one is sitting next to a fire and feels the heat, you realize that whether you will it or not, you will feel that heat. Here this feeling or idea of heat does not come to me from myself, but from something other than myself, and it is sending its likeness into me, meaning it is doing what a fire does in all its essence. And whatever forces you to have an idea of some thing by a spontaneous impulse, or a quick moment of clarity, just as the moment of the self-realization of ones mind, are therefore true and cannot be doubted. Judging upon these impulses, as one does when confronted with the idea of the Stars and Sun, not being aware of the relevant scientific knowledge, we can be mistaken, and one must be careful when taking a judgment to be the truth (Meditations, 25). Ideas existing outside of our mind that have some sort of substance or body to them contain the most reality to us, objectively. These finite substances, including others like us, would still exist if our own mind did not. That is to say we do not cause these things outside of ourselves to exist. So the idea that enables one to understand a supreme deity, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and creator of all things other than himself certainly has more objective reality within in it than the ideas displayed through finite substance (Meditations, 27-28). The ideas that are considered through their objective reality alone cannot possibly exist out of nothing, for there must be as much reality in the cause of something as in what’s produced. Meaning that something cannot exist from nothing. Also, that one thing cannot contain more perfection than what caused that thing to be, or something cannot be less perfect, in essence, than something that it created. Say I hold a stone in my hand, if this stone did not exist, it could not all of a sudden begin to exist unless it is produced by something that is everything of a stone. Nor can the idea of a stone exist within us unless we barrow what is presented by the stone as being a stone. For if we attribute something that was found in the idea of the stone as not it’s cause, then that idea gets that something from nothing, which is not possible (Meditations, 28). So when we absorb the fact that we are finite substances, we have a clear and distinct idea of an infinite perfect substance, through a negation of the finite and imperfect, making the idea of God an innate one. And since this idea of the perfect infinite is apart of us, and we are finite and imperfect, then it must be apart of a substance that is infinite and perfect. Meaning that God must have placed the idea of God in us, like a trademark by a craftsman on his creation. Thus an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God exists.
An opposing philosophical approach resides within the Naturalists. Here I find a priori arguments, such as the one above, not suitable when attempting to explain the external world as well as religious matters. Naturalism relies upon knowledge gained primarily when its verified through experience, and that innate ideas are not actually innate at all, but are ideas attained when discovering evidence through observing and experiencing the natural world around me. Accordingly, there are no mental or perfect substances that exist outside of, in a broad sense, nature. If there are entities or truths in question that can only be answered a priori, or through analytical theorizing, then they are not genuine truths or entities. All that I can be sure exists is the natural order. If one claims for something to exist in this way, but is not studied and described using the vocabulary concerning natural phenomena, then we should not recognize said thing to exist or to be real. My conception of reality does not have something in it that is exclusively accessible to a priori theorizing (IEP, 2a.). My ability to reason is not something that originates in the mind only. To acquire and justify our knowledge, beliefs, and the ability to reason we partake in causal processes within the natural order of our reality, which are derived from considerations of experiences, observations, and practice. And these processes are not supported, formulated, or structured by a priori principles (IEP, 2b.).
At this point, we are now going to turn back toward The Wax Argument, and Descartes’s justification of an innate ability-to-reason as what allows us to know the wax is still what it was even though it has changed form. With my now new awareness of Naturalism, how does this equation still hold its ground? It simply doesn’t. When I look back at the experience given by the piece of wax, if I consider everything that happened in front of my eyes, there is no need to apply additional underlying reasons as to how I can know it is still the same piece of wax as before. When I melt the wax, I understand its nature due to its components changing in front of me, and by simply experiencing this change I gain knowledge of it’s true nature. I have no idea what the wax is to do when it’s temperature raises, so it is the very experience of presenting the chunk of wax to the flame and seeing it change that places in me knowledge regarding the wax and its nature. If this action is practiced, or repeated, I see that the results are identical every time, allowing my imagination concerning the wax not to wonder. And this evidence brought to me without attributing an already existent mental substance to the experiment, still allows me to arrive at truth.
So what about the innate idea of this infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God? One can argue that this idea is not an innate one, since evidence suggests that not all children are aware of this specific idea, but never mind that point. If I completely focus on the view of a Naturalist, I must believe that I am blank before we observe and experience the natural world by means of the senses. So what kind of empirical, testable, tactile evidence is there within this natural order that shows it self to be this perfection which is the opposite of my own ephemeral self? There is no such evidence. There is no experience to be had that could allow me to identify this perfection attributed to this deity. And since this being, or idea of this being, is not present within the natural order of our Earthly presence, I find that the flaw seen within the Trademark Argument, and the flaw regarding the Wax Argument, allows me to feel safe enough to say that since there is no such thing as an innate idea, the idea of God is not an innate idea within us. If God is not an innate idea within us, then there is no trademark placed in me by that God as a craftsman does to his creation. Therefore, the existence of a God cannot be explained with an a priori argument. The feeling which one has in response to how finite our being is might be birthed out of an observation that this natural order we all are apart of is just a largely synchronized finite system that rotates through life and death cycles, and is self-sustaining in all its essence. And the seemingly innate feeling to strive toward that perceived perfection, or thing greater than myself, is just a desire to partake and join this perceived observed system, which, for some reason, I try so fiercely to control and judge. But no need for that speculation, since whatever I judge this reality to really be, it is undoubtedly true that I cannot perceive anything to be clearly true unless it resides within the natural world we all reside in, and these mental substances which seem to be placed within us from the get-go are actually nothing but tallies on a blank slate providing clearer knowledge about my reality with every collected mark.
Meditations On First Philosophy. Rene Descartes. Third Edition. Hackett Publishing Company.
Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy (IEP). Naturalism. Jon Jacobs. http://www.iep.utm.edu/naturali/