Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Remembrance plaque on the Marktplatz in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, reading: Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. (Heinrich Heine, 1820) In memory of the book burning by the National Socialists on May 14, 1933

Remembrance plaque on the Marktplatz in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, reading: Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. (Heinrich Heine, 1820) In memory of the book burning by the National Socialists on May 14, 1933

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“List of Prohibited Books”) was a list of publications deemed heretical or contrary to morality by the Sacred Congregation of the Index (a former Dicastery of the Roman Curia); Catholics were forbidden to read them.

There were attempts to ban heretical books before the sixteenth century, notably in the ninth-century Decretum Glasianum; the Index of Prohibited Books of 1560 banned thousands of book titles and blacklisted publications, including the works of Europe’s intellectual elites. The 20th and final edition of the Index appeared in 1948; the Index was formally abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

The Index condemned religious and secular texts alike, grading works by the degree to which they were seen to be repugnant to the church. The aim of the list was to protect church members from reading theologically, culturally, or politically disruptive books. Such books included works by astronomers, such as Johannes Kepler’s Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae (published in three volumes from 1618 to 1621), which was on the Index from 1621 to 1835; works by philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781); and editions and translations of the Bible that had not been approved. Editions of the Index also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling, and preemptive censorship of books.

The canon law of the Latin Church still recommends that works should be submitted to the judgment of the local ordinary if they concern sacred scripture, theology, canon law, or church history, religion or morals. The local ordinary consults someone whom he considers competent to give a judgment and, if that person gives the nihil obstat (“nothing forbids”), the local ordinary grants the imprimatur (“let it be printed”). Members of religious institutes require the imprimi potest (“it can be printed”) of their major superior to publish books on matters of religion or morals.

Some of the scientific theories contained in works in early editions of the Index have long been taught at Catholic universities. For example, the general prohibition of books advocating heliocentrism was removed from the Index in 1758, but two Franciscan mathematicians had published an edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687) in 1742, with commentaries and a preface stating that the work assumed heliocentrism and could not be explained without it. A work of the Italian Catholic priest and philosopher Antonio Rosmini-Serbati was on the Index, but he was beatified in 2007. Some have argued that the developments since the abolition of the Index signify “the loss of relevance of the Index in the 21st century.”

J. Martínez de Bujanda’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, 1600–1966 lists the authors and writings in the successive editions of the Index, while Miguel Carvalho Abrantes’s Why Did The Inquisition Ban Certain Books?: A Case Study from Portugal tries to understand why certain books were forbidden based on a Portuguese edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum from 1581.

Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. The burning of Arian books. (Illustration from a compendium of canon law, ca. 825, MS. in the Capitular Library, Vercelli)

Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. The burning of Arian books. (Illustration from a compendium of canon law, ca. 825, MS. in the Capitular Library, Vercelli)

European Restrictions on the Right to Print

The historical context in which the Index appeared involved the early restrictions on printing in Europe. The refinement of moveable type and the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg circa 1440 changed the nature of book publishing, and the mechanism by which information could be disseminated to the public. Books, once rare and kept carefully in a small number of libraries, could be mass-produced and widely disseminated.

In the 16th century, both the churches and governments in most European countries attempted to regulate and control printing because it allowed for rapid and widespread circulation of ideas and information. The Protestant Reformation generated large quantities of polemical new writing by and within both the Catholic and Protestant camps, and religious subject-matter was typically the area most subject to control. While governments and church encouraged printing in many ways, which allowed the dissemination of Bibles and government information, works of dissent and criticism could also circulate rapidly. As a consequence, governments established controls over printers across Europe, requiring them to have official licenses to trade and produce books.

The early versions of the Index began to appear from 1529 to 1571. In the same time frame, in 1557 the English Crown aimed to stem the flow of dissent by chartering the Stationers’ Company. The right to print was restricted to the two universities (Oxford and Cambridge) and to the 21 existing printers in the city of London, which had between them 53 printing presses.

The French crown also tightly controlled printing, and the printer and writer Etienne Dolet was burned at the stake for atheism in 1546. The 1551 Edict of Châteaubriant comprehensively summarized censorship positions to date, and included provisions for unpacking and inspecting all books brought into France. The 1557 Edict of Compiègne applied the death penalty to heretics and resulted in the burning of a noblewoman at the stake. Printers were viewed as radical and rebellious, with 800 authors, printers and book dealers being incarcerated in the Bastille. At times, the prohibitions of church and state followed each other, e.g. René Descartes was placed on the Index in the 1660s and the French government prohibited the teaching of Cartesianism in schools in the 1670s.

The Copyright Act 1710 in Britain, and later copyright laws in France, eased this situation. Historian Eckhard Höffner claims that copyright laws and their restrictions acted as a barrier to progress in those countries for over a century, since British publishers could print valuable knowledge in limited quantities for the sake of profit. The German economy prospered in the same time frame since there were no restrictions.

Early Indices (1529–1571)

The first list of the kind was not published in Rome, but in Catholic Netherlands (1529); Venice (1543) and Paris (1551) under the terms of the Edict of Châteaubriant followed this example. By mid-century, in the tense atmosphere of wars of religion in Germany and France, both Protestant and Catholic authorities reasoned that only control of the press, including a catalog of prohibited works, coordinated by ecclesiastic and governmental authorities, could prevent the spread of heresy.

Paul F. Grendler (1975) discusses the religious and political climate in Venice from 1540 to 1605. There were many attempts to censor the Venetian press, which at that time was one of the largest concentrations of printers. Both church and government held to a belief in censorship, but the publishers continually pushed back on the efforts to ban books and shut down printing. More than once the index of banned books in Venice was suppressed or suspended because various people took a stand against it.

The first Roman Index was printed in 1557 under the direction of Pope Paul IV (1555–1559), but then withdrawn for unclear reasons. In 1559, a new index was finally published, banning the entire works of some 550 authors in addition to the individual proscribed titles: “The Pauline Index felt that the religious convictions of an author contaminated all his writing.” The work of the censors was considered too severe and met with much opposition even in Catholic intellectual circles; after the Council of Trent had authorized a revised list prepared under Pope Pius IV, the so-called Tridentine Index was promulgated in 1564; it remained the basis of all later lists until Pope Leo XIII, in 1897, published his Index Leonianus.

The blacklisting of some Protestant scholars even when writing on subjects a modern reader would consider outside the realm of dogma meant that, unless they obtained a dispensation, obedient Catholic thinkers were denied access to works including: botanist Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium; the botanical works of Otto Brunfels; those of the medical scholar Janus Cornarius; to Christoph Hegendorff or Johann Oldendorp on the theory of law; Protestant geographers and cosmographers like Jacob Ziegler or Sebastian Münster; as well as anything by Protestant theologians like Martin Luther, John Calvin or Philipp Melanchthon. Among the inclusions was the Libri Carolini, a theological work from the 9th-century court of Charlemagne, which was published in 1549 by Bishop Jean du Tillet and which had already been on two other lists of prohibited books before being inserted into the Tridentine Index.

Killing the Scholars and Burning the Books, anonymous 18th century Chinese painted album leaf; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

Killing the Scholars and Burning the Books, anonymous 18th century Chinese painted album leaf; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

Sacred Congregation of the Index (1571–1917)

In 1571, a special congregation was created, the Sacred Congregation of the Index, which had the specific task to investigate those writings that were denounced in Rome as being not exempt of errors, to update the list of Pope Pius IV regularly and also to make lists of required corrections in case a writing was not to be condemned absolutely but only in need of correction; it was then listed with a mitigating clause (e.g., donec corrigatur (forbidden until corrected) or donec expurgetur (forbidden until purged)).

Several times a year, the congregation held meetings. During the meetings, they reviewed various works and documented those discussions. In between the meetings was when the works to be discussed were thoroughly examined, and each work was scrutinized by two people. At the meetings, they collectively decided whether or not the works should be included in the Index. Ultimately, the pope was the one who had to approve of works being added or removed from the Index. It was the documentation from the meetings of the congregation that aided the pope in making his decision.

This sometimes resulted in very long lists of corrections, published in the Index Expurgatorius, which was cited by Thomas James in 1627 as “an invaluable reference work to be used by the curators of the Bodleian Library when listing those works particularly worthy of collecting”. Prohibitions made by other congregations (mostly the Holy Office) were simply passed on to the Congregation of the Index, where the final decrees were drafted and made public, after approval of the Pope (who always had the possibility to condemn an author personally—there are only a few examples of such condemnation, including those of Lamennais and Hermes).

An update to the Index was made by Pope Leo XIII, in the 1897 apostolic constitution Officiorum ac Munerum, known as the “Index Leonianus”. Subsequent editions of the Index were more sophisticated; they graded authors according to their supposed degree of toxicity, and they marked specific passages for expurgation rather than condemning entire books.

The Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church later became the Holy Office, and since 1965 has been called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation of the Index was merged with the Holy Office in 1917, by the Motu Proprio “Alloquentes Proxime” of Pope Benedict XV; the rules on the reading of books were again re-elaborated in the new Codex Iuris Canonici. From 1917 onward, the Holy Office (again) took care of the Index.

Holy Office (1917–1966)

While individual books continued to be forbidden, the last edition of the Index to be published appeared in 1948. This 20th edition contained 4,000 titles censored for various reasons: heresy, moral deficiency, sexual explicitness, and so on. That some atheists, such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, were not included was due to the general (Tridentine) rule that heretical works (i.e., works that contradict Catholic dogma) are ipso facto forbidden. Some important works are absent simply because nobody bothered to denounce them. Many actions of the congregations were of a definite political content. Among the significant listed works of the period was the Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century for scorning and rejecting “all dogmas of the Catholic Church, indeed the very fundamentals of the Christian religion”.

Abolition (1966)

On 7 December 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Motu Proprio Integrae servandae that reorganized the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Index was not listed as being a part of the newly constituted congregation’s competence, leading to questioning whether it still was. This question was put to Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, pro-prefect of the congregation, who responded in the negative. The Cardinal also indicated in his response that there was going to be a change in the Index soon.

A June 1966 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notification announced that, while the Index maintained its moral force, in that it taught Christians to beware, as required by the natural law itself, of those writings that could endanger faith and morality, it no longer had the force of ecclesiastical positive law with the associated penalties.

Pedro Berruguete: Saint Dominic and the Albigensians

Pedro Berruguete: Saint Dominic and the Albigensians. A dispute between Saint Dominic and the Cathars in which the books of both were thrown on a fire and St. Dominic’s books were miraculously preserved from the flames.

Censorship and Enforcement

The Index was not simply a reactive work. Roman Catholic authors had the opportunity to defend their writings and could prepare a new edition with necessary corrections or deletions, either to avoid or to limit a ban. Pre-publication censorship was encouraged.

The Index was enforceable within the Papal States, but elsewhere only if adopted by the civil powers, as happened in several Italian states. Other areas adopted their own lists of forbidden books. In the Holy Roman Empire book censorship, which preceded publication of the Index, came under control of the Jesuits at the end of the 16th century, but had little effect, since the German princes within the empire set up their own systems. In France it was French officials who decided what books were banned and the Church’s Index was not recognized. Spain had its own Index Librorum Prohibitorum et Expurgatorum, which corresponded largely to the Church’s, but also included a list of books that were allowed once the forbidden part (sometimes a single sentence) was removed or “expurgated”.

Continued Moral Obligation

On 14 June 1966, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded to inquiries it had received regarding the continued moral obligation concerning books that had been listed in the Index. The response spoke of the books as examples of books dangerous to faith and morals, all of which, not just those once included in the Index, should be avoided regardless of the absence of any written law against them. The Index, it said, retains its moral force “inasmuch as” (quatenus) it teaches the conscience of Christians to beware, as required by the natural law itself, of writings that can endanger faith and morals, but it (the Index of Forbidden Books) no longer has the force of ecclesiastical law with the associated censures.

The congregation thus placed on the conscience of the individual Christian the responsibility to avoid all writings dangerous to faith and morals, while at the same time abolishing the previously existing ecclesiastical law and the relative censures, without thereby declaring that the books that had once been listed in the various editions of the Index of Prohibited Books had become free of error and danger.

In a letter of 31 January 1985 to Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, regarding the book The Poem of the Man-God, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (then Prefect of the Congregation, who later became Pope Benedict XVI), referred to the 1966 notification of the Congregation as follows: “After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, people were reminded again in L’Osservatore Romano (15 June 1966) that, as was published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1966), the Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution. A decision against distributing and recommending a work, which has not been condemned lightly, may be reversed, but only after profound changes that neutralize the harm which such a publication could bring forth among the ordinary faithful.”

Changing Judgments

The content of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum saw deletions as well as additions over the centuries. Writings by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati were placed on the Index in 1849 but were removed by 1855, and Pope John Paul II mentioned Rosmini’s work as a significant example of “a process of philosophical enquiry which was enriched by engaging the data of faith”. The 1758 edition of the Index removed the general prohibition of works advocating heliocentrism as a fact rather than a hypothesis.

Listed Works and Authors

Noteworthy figures on the Index include Simone de Beauvoir, Nicolas Malebranche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel de Montaigne, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Nikos Kazantzakis, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baruch Spinoza, Desiderius Erasmus, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, John Milton, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, and Hugo Grotius. The first woman to be placed on the list was Magdalena Haymairus in 1569, who was listed for her children’s book Die sontegliche Episteln über das gantze Jar in gesangsweis gestellt (Sunday Epistles on the whole Year, put into hymns). Other women include Anne Askew, Olympia Fulvia Morata, Ursula of Munsterberg (1491–1534), Veronica Franco, and Paola Antonia Negri (1508–1555). Contrary to a popular misconception, Charles Darwin’s works were never included.

In many cases, an author’s opera omnia (complete works) were forbidden. However, the Index stated that the prohibition of someone’s opera omnia did not preclude works that were not concerned with religion and were not forbidden by the general rules of the Index. This explanation was omitted in the 1929 edition, which was officially interpreted in 1940 as meaning that opera omnia covered all the author’s works without exception.

Cardinal Ottaviani stated in April 1966 that there was too much contemporary literature, and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could not keep up with it.

A member of the SA throws confiscated books into the bonfire during the public burning of "un-German" books on the Opernplatz in Berlin. In 1933, Nazis burned works of Jewish authors, and other works considered "un-German", at the library of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin.

A member of the SA throws confiscated books into the bonfire during the public burning of “un-German” books on the Opernplatz in Berlin. In 1933, Nazis burned works of Jewish authors, and other works considered “un-German”, at the library of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin.

Wikipedia – Index Librorum Prohibitorum

List of Book-Burning Incidents

Book Burning

Internet Archive: Digital Library

Open Library

Project Gutenberg

Deus Absconditus – The Hidden God

Another fundamental aspect of Luther’s theology is his understanding of God. In rejecting much of scholastic thought Luther rejected the scholastic belief in continuity between revelation and perception. Luther notes that revelation must be indirect and concealed. Luther’s theology is based in the Word of God (thus his phrase sola scriptura – scripture alone). It is based not in speculation or philosophical principles, but in revelation.

Because of humanity’s fallen condition, one can neither understand the redemptive word nor can one see God face to face. Here Luther’s exposition on number twenty of his Heidelberg Disputation is important. It is an allusion to Exodus 33, where Moses seeks to see the Glory of the Lord but instead sees only the backside. No one can see God face to face and live, so God reveals himself on the backside, that is to say, where it seems he should not be. For Luther this meant in the human nature of Christ, in his weakness, his suffering, and his foolishness.

Thus revelation is seen in the suffering of Christ rather than in moral activity or created order and is addressed to faith. The Deus Absconditus is actually quite simple. It is a rejection of philosophy as the starting point for theology. Why? Because if one begins with philosophical categories for God one begins with the attributes of God: i.e., omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, etc. For Luther, it was impossible to begin there and by using syllogisms or other logical means to end up with a God who suffers on the cross on behalf of humanity. It simply does not work. The God revealed in and through the cross is not the God of philosophy but the God of revelation. Only faith can understand and appreciate this, logic and reason – to quote St. Paul become a stumbling block to belief instead of a helpmate.

This is an excerpt from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for Martin Luther, section 2(d).

Atheism has been Part of Many Asian Traditions for Millennia

File 20190328 139361 138qhpw.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Atheism is not a modern concept.
Zoe Margolis, CC BY-NC-ND

Signe Cohen, University of Missouri-Columbia

A group of atheists and secularists recently gathered in Southern California to talk about social and political issues. This was the first of three summits planned by the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C.

To many, atheism – the lack of belief in a personal god or gods – may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history.

As a scholar of Asian religions, however, I’m often struck by the prevalence of atheism and agnosticism – the view that it is impossible to know whether a god exists – in ancient Asian texts. Atheistic traditions have played a significant part in Asian cultures for millennia.

Atheism in Buddhism, Jainism

Buddhists do not believe in a creator God.
Keith Cuddeback, CC BY-NC-ND

While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion.

The Buddha himself rejected the idea of a creator god, and Buddhist philosophers have even argued that belief in an eternal god is nothing but a distraction for humans seeking enlightenment.

While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment.

Jains do not believe in a divine creator.
Gandalf’s Gallery, CC BY-NC-SA

A similar form of functional atheism can also be found in the ancient Asian religion of Jainism, a tradition that emphasizes non-violence toward all living beings, non-attachment to worldly possessions and ascetic practice. While Jains believe in an eternal soul or jiva, that can be reborn, they do not believe in a divine creator.

According to Jainism, the universe is eternal, and while gods may exist, they too must be reborn, just like humans are. The gods play no role in spiritual liberation and enlightenment; humans must find their own path to enlightenment with the help of wise human teachers.

Other Atheistic Philosophies

Around the same time when Buddhism and Jainism arose in the sixth century B.C., there was also an explicitly atheist school of thought in India called the Carvaka school. Although none of their original texts have survived, Buddhist and Hindu authors describe the Carvakas as firm atheists who believed that nothing existed beyond the material world.

To the Carvakas, there was no life after death, no soul apart from the body, no gods and no world other than this one.

Another school of thought, Ajivika, which flourished around the same time, similarly argued that gods didn’t exist, although its followers did believe in a soul and in rebirth.

The Ajivikas claimed that the fate of the soul was determined by fate alone, and not by a god, or even by free will. The Ajivikas taught that everything was made up of atoms, but that these atoms were moving and combining with each other in predestined ways.

Like the Carvaka school, the Ajivika school is today only known from texts composed by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is therefore difficult to determine exactly what the Ajivikas themselves thought.

According to Buddhist texts, the Ajivikas argued that there was no distinction between good and evil and there was no such thing as sin. The school may have existed around the same time as early Buddhism, in the fifth century B.C.

Atheism in Hinduism

There are many gods in Hinduism, but there are also atheistic beliefs.
Religious Studies Unisa, CC BY-SA

While the Hindu tradition of India embraces the belief in many gods and goddesses – 330 million of them, according to some sources – there are also atheistic strands of thought found within Hinduism.

The Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy is one such example. It believes that humans can achieve liberation for themselves by freeing their own spirit from the realm of matter.

Another example is the Mimamsa school. This school also rejects the idea of a creator God. The Mimamsa philosopher Kumarila said that if a god had created the world by himself in the beginning, how could anyone else possibly confirm it? Kumarila further argued that if a merciful god had created the world, it could not have been as full of suffering as it is.

According to the 2011 census, there were approximately 2.9 million atheists in India. Atheism is still a significant cultural force in India, as well as in other Asian countries influenced by Indian religions.The Conversation

Signe Cohen, Associate Professor and Department Chair, University of Missouri-Columbia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Varieties of Religious Experience


The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James (1842 – 1910). James was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. He was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labelled him the “Father of American psychology”.

Varieties comprises his edited Gifford Lectures on natural theology, which were delivered at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1901 and 1902. The lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science in the academic study of religion.

Soon after its publication, Varieties entered the Western canon of psychology and philosophy and has remained in print for over a century.

James later developed his philosophy of pragmatism. There are many overlapping ideas in Varieties and his 1907 book, Pragmatism.

Religion, therefore, as I now ask you arbitrarily to take it, shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine. Since the relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow. Religion is a man’s total reaction upon life.

James was most interested in direct religious experiences. Theology and the organizational aspects of religion were of secondary interest. He believed that religious experiences were simply human experiences: “Religious happiness is happiness. Religious trance is trance.”

He believed that religious experiences can have “morbid origins” in brain pathology and can be irrational but nevertheless are largely positive. Unlike the bad ideas that people have under the influence of a high fever, after a religious experience, the ideas and insights usually remain and are often valued for the rest of the person’s life.

Under James’ pragmatism, the effectiveness of religious experiences proves their truth, whether they stem from religious practices or from drugs: “Nitrous oxide … stimulate[s] the mystical consciousness in an extraordinary degree.”

James had relatively little interest in the legitimacy or illegitimacy of religious experiences. Further, despite James’ examples being almost exclusively drawn from Christianity, he did not mean to limit his ideas to any single religion. Religious experiences are something that people sometimes have under certain conditions. In James’ description, these conditions are likely to be psychological or pharmaceutical rather than cultural.

Religion thus makes easy and felicitous what in any case is necessary; and if it be the only agency that can accomplish this result, its vital importance as a human faculty stands vindicated beyond dispute. It becomes an essential organ of our life, performing a function which no other portion of our nature can so successfully fulfill.

James believed that the origins of a religion shed little light upon its value. There is a distinction between an existential judgment (a judgment on “constitution, origin, and history”) and a proposition of value (a judgment on “importance, meaning, or significance”).

For example, if the founder of the Quaker religion, George Fox, had been a hereditary degenerate, the Quaker religion could yet be “a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness, and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men had ever known in England.”

Furthermore, the potentially dubious psychological origins of religious beliefs apply just as well to non-religious beliefs:

Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see “the liver” determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul. Science… has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view.

James criticized scientists for ignoring unseen aspects of the universe. Science studies some of reality, but not all of it:

Vague impressions of something indefinable have no place in the rationalistic system…. Nevertheless, if we look on man’s whole mental life as it exists … we have to confess that the part of it of which rationalism can give an account of is relatively superficial. It is the part that has the prestige undoubtedly, for it has the loquacity, it can challenge you for proofs, and chop logic, and put you down with words … Your whole subconscious life, your impulses, your faiths, your needs, your divinations, have prepared the premises, of which your consciousness now feels the weight of the result; and something in you absolutely knows that that result must be truer than any logic-chopping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may contradict it.

James saw “healthy-mindedness” as America’s main contribution to religion. This is the religious experience of optimism and positive thinking which James sees running from the transcendentalists Emerson and Whitman to Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science. At the extreme, the “healthy-minded” see sickness and evil as an illusion. James considered belief in the “mind cure” to be reasonable when compared to medicine as practiced at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The “sick souls” (“morbid-mindedness” / the “twice-born”) are merely those who hit bottom before their religious experience; those whose redemption gives relief from the pains they suffered beforehand. By contrast, the “healthy-minded” deny the need for such preparatory pain or suffering. James believes that “morbid-mindedness ranges over the wider scale of experience” and that while healthy-mindedness is a surprisingly effective “religious solution”,

healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after all be the best key to life’s significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.

James sees the two types as being a mere matter of temperament: the healthy minded having a “constitutional incapacity for prolonged suffering”; the morbid-minded being those prone to “religious melancholia”.

The basenesses so commonly charged to religion’s account are thus, almost all of them, not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion’s wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate dominion. And the bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion’s wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in theoretic system.

For James, a saintly character is one where “spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy.” James states that saintliness includes:

1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world’s selfish little interests; and a conviction … of the existence of an Ideal Power.

2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.

3. An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confining selfhood melt down.

4. A shifting of the emotional Centre towards loving and harmonious affections, towards “yes, yes” and away from “no,” where the claims of the non-ego are concerned.

For James, the practical consequences of saintliness are asceticism (pleasure in sacrifice), strength of soul (a “blissful equanimity” free from anxieties), purity (a withdrawal from the material world), and charity (tenderness to those most would naturally disdain).

James identified two main features to a mystical experience:

Ineffability —”No adequate report of its contents can be given in words. … its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others. … mystical states are more like states of feeling than like states of intellect. No one can make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it consists.”

Noetic quality —”Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time.”

He also identified two subsidiary features that are often, but not always, found with mystical experiences:

Transiency —”Mystical states cannot be sustained for long.”

Passivity —”The mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power.”

The only thing that religious experience, as we have studied it, unequivocally testifies to is that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves and in that union find our greatest peace.

Read Now: The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (PDF)

What is Christianity?

This is an excellent discussion between Sam Harris and Bart Ehrman about Christianity and Christian history and theology. There is a remarkable resemblance between Ehrman’s life and periods of my own life in which I pursued truth and my faith was gradually lost. The problems with interpreting the scriptures too literally are exemplified. Anybody that honestly believes herself to be a Christian should cautiously examine the things discussed here. Sapere aude!


Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris #125: What is Christianity?

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks to Bart Ehrman about his experience of being a born-again Christian, his academic training in New Testament scholarship, his loss of faith, the most convincing argument in defense of Christianity, the status of miracles, the composition of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus, the nature of heaven and hell, the book of Revelation, the End Times, self-contradictions in the Bible, the concept of a messiah, whether Jesus actually existed, Christianity as a cult of human sacrifice, the conversion of Constantine, and other topics.

Bart D. Ehrman is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including the New York Times bestsellers Misquoting Jesus and How Jesus Became God. Ehrman is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity. He has been featured in Time, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, and has appeared on NBC, CNN, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The History Channel, National Geographic, BBC, major NPR shows, and other top print and broadcast media outlets. His most recent book is The Triumph of Christianity.

Twitter: @BartEhrman

The Dynamics of Faith

Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the life of the believer, but it does not matter for the formal definition of faith. And this is the first step we have to make in order to understand the dynamics of faith.

– Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith (1957)

Paul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965) was a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and Lutheran Protestant theologian who is widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century.

Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence … If [a situation or concern] claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim … it demands that all other concerns … be sacrificed.

Among the general public, he is best known for his works The Courage to Be (1952) and Dynamics of Faith (1957), which introduced issues of theology and modern culture to a general readership. In academic theology, he is best known for his major three-volume work Systematic Theology (1951–63) in which he developed his “method of correlation”, an approach of exploring the symbols of Christian revelation as answers to the problems of human existence raised by contemporary existential philosophical analysis.

Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It happens in the center of the personal life and includes all its elements. Faith is the most centered act of the human mind. It is not a movement of a special section or a special function of man’s total being. They all are united in the act of faith. But faith is not the sum total of their impacts. It transcends every special impact as well as the totality of them and it has itself a decisive impact on each of them.

Two of Tillich’s works, The Courage to Be (1952) and Dynamics of Faith (1957), were read widely, including by people who would not normally read religious books. In The Courage to Be, he lists three basic anxieties: anxiety about our biological finitude, i.e. that arising from the knowledge that we will eventually die; anxiety about our moral finitude, linked to guilt; and anxiety about our existential finitude, a sense of aimlessness in life. Tillich related these to three different historical eras: the early centuries of the Christian era; the Reformation; and the 20th century. Tillich’s popular works have influenced psychology as well as theology, having had an influence on Rollo May, whose “The Courage to Create” was inspired by “The Courage to Be”.

[The God of theological theism] deprives me of my subjectivity because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. I revolt and make him into an object, but the revolt fails and becomes desperate. God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with the recent tyrants who with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. He becomes the model of everything against which Existentialism revolted. This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.

Today, Tillich’s most observable legacy may well be that of a spiritually-oriented public intellectual and teacher with a broad and continuing range of influence. Tillich‘s chapel sermons (especially at Union) were enthusiastically received (Tillich was known as the only faculty member of his day at Union willing to attend the revivals of Billy Graham) Tillich’s students have commented on Tillich’s approachability as a lecturer and his need for interaction with his audience. When Tillich was University Professor at Harvard, he was chosen as keynote speaker from among an auspicious gathering of many who had appeared on the cover of Time Magazine during its first four decades. Tillich along with his student, psychologist Rollo May, was an early leader at the Esalen Institute. Contemporary New Age catchphrases describing God (spatially) as the “Ground of Being” and (temporally) as the “Eternal Now,” in tandem with the view that God is not an entity among entities but rather is “Being-Itself”—notions which Eckhart Tolle, for example, has invoked repeatedly throughout his career—were paradigmatically renovated by Tillich, although of course these ideas derive from Christian mystical sources as well as from ancient and medieval theologians such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

The separation of faith and love is always a consequence of a deterioration of religion.

The introductory philosophy course taught by the person Tillich considered to be his best student, John Edwin Smith, “probably turned more undergraduates to the study of philosophy at Yale than all the other philosophy courses put together. His courses in philosophy of religion and American philosophy defined those fields for many years. Perhaps most important of all, he has educated a younger generation in the importance of the public life in philosophy and in how to practice philosophy publicly.” In the 1980s and 1990s the Boston University Institute for Philosophy and Religion, a leading forum dedicated to the revival of the American public tradition of philosophy and religion, flourished under the leadership of Tillich’s student and expositor Leroy S. Rouner.

[Faith] transcends both the drives of the nonrational unconsciousness and the structures of the rational conscious…the ecstatic character of faith does not exclude its rational character although it is not identical with it, and it includes nonrational strivings without being identical with them. ‘Ecstasy’ means ‘standing outside of oneself’ – without ceasing to be oneself – with all the elements which are united in the personal center.

Martin Buber criticized Tillich’s “transtheistic position” as a reduction of God to the impersonal “necessary being” of Thomas Aquinas.

Tillich has been criticized from the Barthian wing of Protestantism for what is alleged to be correlation theory’s tendency to reduce God and his relationship to man to anthropocentric terms. Tillich counters that Barth’s approach to theology denies the “possibility of understanding God’s relation to man in any other way than heteronomously or extrinsically”. Defenders of Tillich claim that critics misunderstand the distinction Tillich makes between God’s essence as the unconditional (“das unbedingte”) “Ground of Being” which is unknowable, and how God reveals himself to mankind in existence. Tillich establishes the distinction in the first chapter of his Systematic Theology Volume One: “But though God in his abysmal nature [footnote: ‘Calvin: in his essence’ ] is in no way dependent on man, God in his self manifestation to man is dependent on the way man receives his manifestation.”

Faith as the state of being ultimately concerned implies love, namely, the desire and urge toward the reunion of the separated.

Some conservative strains of Evangelical Christianity believe Tillich’s thought is too unorthodox to qualify as Christianity at all, but rather as a form of pantheism or atheism. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states, “At best Tillich was a pantheist, but his thought borders on atheism.”

In such a state the God of both religious and theological language disappears. But something remains, namely, the seriousness of that doubt in which meaning within meaninglessness is affirmed. The source of this affirmation of meaning within meaninglessness, of certitude within doubt, is not the God of traditional theism but the “God above God,” the power of being, which works through those who have no name for it, not even the name God.


Lost in Translation


Detail from The Apostle Paul by Rembrandt van Rijn (c1675). Courtesy National Gallery of Art/Wikipedia

Everything You Know about the Gospel of Paul is Likely Wrong

By David Bentley Hart

This past year, I burdened the English-speaking world with my very own translation of the New Testament – a project that I undertook at the behest of my editor at Yale University Press, but that I agreed to almost in the instant that it was proposed. I had long contemplated attempting a ‘subversively literal’ rendering of the text. Over the years, I had become disenchanted with almost all the standard translations available, and especially with modern versions produced by large committees of scholars, many of whom (it seems to me) have been predisposed by inherited theological habits to see things in the text that are not really there, and to fail to notice other things that most definitely are. Committees are bland affairs, and tend to reinforce our expectations; but the world of late antiquity is so remote from our own that it is almost never what we expect.

Ask, for instance, the average American Christian – say, some genial Presbyterian who attends church regularly and owns a New International Version of the Bible – what gospel the Apostle Paul preached. The reply will fall along predictable lines: human beings, bearing the guilt of original sin and destined for eternal hell, cannot save themselves through good deeds, or make themselves acceptable to God; yet God, in his mercy, sent the eternal Son to offer himself up for our sins, and the righteousness of Christ has been graciously imputed or imparted to all who have faith.

Some details might vary, but not the basic story. And, admittedly, much of the tale’s language is reminiscent of terms used by Paul, at least as filtered through certain conventional translations; but it is a fantasy. It presumes elements of later Christian belief absent from Paul’s own writings. Some of these (like the idea that humans are born damnably guilty in God’s eyes, or that good deeds are not required for salvation) arise from a history of misleading translations. Others (like the concept of an eternal hell of conscious torment) are entirely imagined, attributed to Paul on the basis of some mistaken picture of what the New Testament as a whole teaches.

Paul’s actual teachings, however, as taken directly from the Greek of his letters, emphasise neither original guilt nor imputed righteousness (he believed in neither), but rather the overthrow of bad angels. A certain long history of misreadings – especially of the Letter to the Romans – has created an impression of Paul’s theological concerns so entirely alien to his conceptual world that the real Paul occupies scarcely any place at all in Christian memory. It is true that he addresses issues of ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice’, and asserts that this is available to us only through the virtue of pistis – ‘faith’ or ‘trust’ or even ‘fidelity’. But for Paul, pistis largely consists in works of obedience to God and love of others. The only erga, ‘works’, which he is anxious to claim make no contribution to personal sanctity, are certain ‘ritual observances’ of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision or kosher dietary laws. This, though, means that the separation between Jews and gentiles has been annulled in Christ, opening salvation to all peoples; it does not mean (as Paul fears some might imagine) that God has abandoned his covenant with Israel.

Questions of law and righteousness, however, are secondary concerns. The essence of Paul’s theology is something far stranger, and unfolds on a far vaster scale. For Paul, the present world-age is rapidly passing, while another world-age differing from the former in every dimension – heavenly or terrestrial, spiritual or physical – is already dawning. The story of salvation concerns the entire cosmos; and it is a story of invasion, conquest, spoliation and triumph. For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number. Whether fallen, or mutinous, or merely incompetent, these beings stand intractably between us and God. But Christ has conquered them all.

In descending to Hades and ascending again through the heavens, Christ has vanquished all the Powers below and above that separate us from the love of God, taking them captive in a kind of triumphal procession. All that now remains is the final consummation of the present age, when Christ will appear in his full glory as cosmic conqueror, having ‘subordinated’ (hypetaxen) all the cosmic powers to himself – literally, having properly ‘ordered’ them ‘under’ himself – and will then return this whole reclaimed empire to his Father. God himself, rather than wicked or inept spiritual intermediaries, will rule the cosmos directly. Sometimes, Paul speaks as if some human beings will perish along with the present age, and sometimes as if all human beings will finally be saved. He never speaks of some hell for the torment of unregenerate souls.

The new age, moreover – when creation will be glorified and transformed into God’s kingdom – will be an age of ‘spirit’ rather than ‘flesh’. For Paul, these are two antithetical principles of creaturely existence, though most translations misrepresent the antithesis as a mere contrast between God’s ‘spirit’ and human perversity. But Paul is quite explicit: ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom.’ Neither can psychē, ‘soul’, the life-principle or anima that gives life to perishable flesh. In the age to come, the ‘psychical body’, the ‘ensouled’ or ‘animal’ way of life, will be replaced by a ‘spiritual body’, beyond the reach of death – though, again, conventional translations usually obscure this by speaking of the former, vaguely, as a ‘natural body’.

Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one. John’s Gospel too, for instance, tells of the divine saviour who comes ‘from above’, descending from God’s realm into this cosmos, overthrowing its reigning Archon, bringing God’s light into the darkness of our captivity, and ‘dragging’ everyone to himself. And, in varying registers, so do most of the texts of the New Testament. As I say, it is a conceptual world very remote from our own.

And yet it would be foolish to try to judge the gospel’s spiritual claims by how plausible we find the cosmology that accompanies them. For one thing, the ancient picture of reality might be in many significant respects more accurate than ours. And it would surely be a category error to assume that the story of Christ’s overthrow of death and sin cannot express a truth that transcends the historical and cultural conditions in which it was first told. But, before we decide anything at all about that story, we must first recover it from the very different stories that we so frequently tell in its place.

This Idea was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust.  The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton Religion Trust.Aeon counter – do not remove

David Bentley Hart

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Amazon Order History (2004-2008)

Wow! I logged into my old Amazon account today and checked out my order history. I actually got rid of a lot of these books a long time ago, specifically the theological ones, so I just had to catalogue it.



Andre LaMothe

Huston Smith

Bart D. Ehrman

John F., Dr Walvoord

Tim LaHaye

Winfried Corduan

Norman L. Geisler

Norman L. Geisler, Thomas Howe

Ron Brooks, et al

Gleason L. Archer

Erwin W. Lutzer

Felton Shoults

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin

Elaine Pagels

Karl Keating

David B. Currie

Norman L. Geisler, Ron Rhodes

Grant R. Jeffrey

William C. Placher

William C. Placher

Paul M. Johnson

Justo L. Gonzalez

Justo L. Gonzalez

Michael Gorman

Walter C. Kaiser, Moises Silva

David H. Stern

David H. Stern

Adele Berlin, et al


Steve Gregg

Marvin R. Wilson

Thomas C. Brisco

Ronald H. Nash

Michael L. Brown

Michael L. Brown

Michael L. Brown

Norman L. Geisler

Walter Ralston Martin, et al

Tim Callahan

Dr. Herbert Lockyer

Victoria Hoffer, et al

by Karl Elliger (Editor), Wilhelm Rudolph (Editor)

Francis Brown, et al

Roger A. Freedman, William J., III Kaufmann

R. C. Sproul (Editor), Keith Mathison (Editor)


Immanuel Kant (Author), J. M. D. Meiklejohn (Translator)

Immanuel Kant, Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (Translator)

David Hume

David Hume, Richard H. Popkin

Walter Kaufmann (Editor)

Jean-Paul Sartre, Hazel E. Barnes (Translator)

Howard V. Hong (Editor), et al

Friedrich Nietzsche, et al

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, John Perry (Introduction)


Benedictus de Spinoza, et al

Aristotle, Richard McKeon (Editor)

John Locke

Rene Descartes, Donald Cress

Plato, et al

Fyodor Dostoevsky, et al

G. W. F. Hegel, et al

Lao Tzu, D. C. Lau (Translator)

George Berkeley, Roger Woolhouse

Friedrich Nietzsche (Editor), Walter Kaufmann (Translator)

William James

Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr von Leibniz

Ludwig Wittgenstein (Author)

Brian Azzarello (Author)


Epictetus (Author), George Long (Translator)

And that’s where the account order history ends. It’s definitely interesting to look back at what I was into over those years and how my interests developed and evolved!

Divine Wisdom




Those having Lamps will pass them on to others.


In The Secret Doctrine we are told that Plato was not merely the greatest philosopher of Greece but also an Adept who belonged psychically, mentally and spiritually to the higher planes of evolution, a ‘Fifth-rounder’ in the Fourth Round, immensely higher than is our present humanity. He imparted spiritual truths through myths and allegories as his aim was both to awaken the Manas and to arouse the Buddhi of his hearers. In the ratiocinative climate of our own age, his myths have been often dismissed as mere poetic fantasies, and some have even suggested that they were employed to cover up deficiencies in his chain of reasoning. As a result his system of philosophy and political thought has not been properly grasped by his critics.

One of Plato’s most well-known myths is the ‘quaint parable’ with which the Seventh Book of the Republicopens. In this allegory of the cave he intimated the teaching that there is a truth beyond sense, pertaining to the eternal noumena underlying earthly phenomena, a deeper realm of reality which cannot be adequately apprehended except by the philosopher who has been initiated into the Mysteries. Even to realize the distinction between the intuitive standpoint of the true seer and the shared delusions of most men is an important step forward from the region of avidya, ignorance, to the realm of truth. Our tragedy lies simply in our refusal to recognize that we live in a condition of perpetual imprisonment, clinging tenaciously to the sights and sounds of earthly life, mistaking slavery for freedom and shadows for realities.

The allegory begins with a graphic picture of the pathetic condition of the majority of mankind. We are like chained slaves living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den. Here we have been from our childhood, unable to move or to see beyond, being prevented by the chains from turning round our heads. Above and behind us a fire is blazing at a distance, but between the fire and ourselves there is a low wall like the screen which marionette players have in front of them to foster the illusion necessary for a puppet-show. We are like the strange prisoners in this den who see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave. To them the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images, and they cannot distinguish the voices of one another from the echoes emanating from the surrounding darkness.

Given this allegory, we might think that if only the prisoners were released from their chains by some external agency, they would cease to mistake shadows for realities and would be automatically disabused of their former errors. The allegory points out that no such simple deliverance from illusions is possible. At first, when any of the prisoners is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains. Further, the glare will disturb him and he will be unable to see the realities he formerly identified with their mere shadows. If he is now told that what he saw before was an illusion and that now he is approaching real existence and has a clearer vision, he will be perplexed. He will continue to fancy that the shadows he saw for so long were truer than the objects which are now shown to him. If he is compelled to look straight at the light, the pain in his eyes will induce him to turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision that have acquired a false but greater reality than the things which are now being shown to him. If he is dragged up a steep ascent and forced into the presence of the sun, his eyes will be dazzled and he will not be able to see anything at all.

The liberated prisoner will obviously require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. He will first see the shadows best, then the reflections of men and objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; and then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars by night. At last he will be able to see the sun. He will come to see that the sun is the guardian of all that is in the visible world and in a certain sense the cause of all that he and his fellows had been accustomed to behold. He would remember his old habitation and the delusions of his fellow prisoners, pity them and felicitate himself on the change in himself and in his position. He would no longer care for the honours conferred upon one another by the ignorant prisoners on the basis of who were the quickest to observe the passing shadows.

The first test that the liberated prisoner has to face is to get accustomed to his new condition and to forsake his long-cherished illusions. The second test is to see the unity of all things. The third is to show compassion towards his fellow prisoners and not merely revel in his own happiness. The fourth is to detach himself completely from the false valuations and hierarchical distinctions made by the men in the den. His fifth and much more difficult test comes if he is then made to re-enter the cave of darkness, for he would appear ridiculous to the prisoners who still cling to their former illusions centered on the shadows. They would say that he had become blind to realities since leaving the cave, that it is better not even to think of ascending, that they would be entitled to put to death anyone who tried to free another and lead him up to the light.

The allegory then explains that the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and the journey upwards is the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world. In the world of knowledge the archetypal idea of Good appears last of all and is seen only with an effort. It is only then inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, the lord of light in this visible world and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual world, the power upon which the eye must be fixed in private and public life in order to act rationally. It is not surprising, we are told, that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell. Those who do descend from divine contemplations to the underground den will not find it easy to deal with those who have never yet seen Absolute Good or Justice.

The bewilderments of the eyes, the bodily eye as well as the mind’s eye, are of two kinds and arise either from coming out of the light or from going into the light. The plight of the soul as soon as it comes from darkness into the light is to be pitied, and there is no reason to laugh at the condition of the soul which has come out of the brighter life and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark. It is wrong to think that we can put sight into blind eyes or knowledge into the soul, which was not there before. The power and capacity of learning exist in the soul already, and just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too it is only by the movement of the whole soul that the instrument of knowledge can be turned from the world of Becoming into that of Being, and can learn by degrees to endure the sight of the good and the true. Whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul can be implanted by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom or of spiritual sight contains a divine element which is the identifying property or function of the soul. Sensual pleasures, like leaden weights, drag down the soul and turn its vision upon the things below, but if the soul is released from earthly impediments, the faculty of seeing the truth comes into full play.

Every detail of the allegory of the cave has been mentioned here because everything in it is significant. The entire allegory could be interpreted in several ways – mystically, psychologically or even politically. It was Plato’s great genius that he could give us a parable, archetypal in meaning and full of occult truth, that is rich in its symbolism and suggestive of several profitable interpretations. His method was to descend from universals to particulars, to use his insight into the process of Becoming or of cosmic evolution to derive lessons for personal and social life. He exemplified the ancient maxim: “As above, so below.” Recent interpreters have concentrated on the political moral to be drawn from the parable and some have wrongly regarded it as a poetic rationalization of a particular political outlook designed to make the philosopher acceptable in a polis. Plato explicitly states that the founders of the State must compel the best minds to continue to ascend until they arrive at the highest truth or ultimate good and then to make them descend again into the den and partake of honours and labours for which they do not care. They must become the benefactors of the entire community. They are not obliged to share in the toils of politics, but if they were deliberately encouraged in their quest for truth, they must share the fruits of their vision with their fellow men. Being Just Men, they will comply with the demands made upon them. The State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best.

The entire political moral of the parable has a close resemblance to the Kumaras, who refuse to create but are induced by cosmic necessity to complete divine Man by incarnating in him. The unwillingness of the sower in the field to heed the voice of his master involves the latter in unearned and unnecessary suffering, but he accepts this burden flowing from his decision to become involved in the process of evolution. The incarnation of the Kumaras, which makes cosmic evolution possible, is paralleled by the sacrifice of theNirmanakayas who resolved, even before attaining perfection, to renounce its fruit and re-enter the world of human ignorance and suffering. Similarly, the Avatar who descends amidst humanity cheerfully accepts the risk of ridicule and rejection, so that at least a few may be called to the pursuit of spiritual truth and many more aroused out of their state of slavery and illusion. The probationer on the path of the spiritual life has to emulate the example of the Avatars and the Nirmanakayas. He has both to isolate himself from humanity in his all-absorbing pursuit of pure truth and to heed the voice of suffering humanity, ever ascending on the pathway of the soul and ever preparing himself for the perfect service of humanity.

The parable also contains the mystical truth that, as the soul is initiated into the higher realms of being, it experiences a sense of strangeness, a new birth, until it has become accustomed to the sights and sounds of its higher plane of consciousness and become wholly indifferent to the lower impulses of earthly life. In his ascent the mystic comes to worship the spiritual Sun, which gives sustenance to the whole universe, and to perceive the unity of all life and being. At the same time the mystic who has chosen the path of renunciation and not of liberation has to learn to preserve his vision of the unity of the unseen universe while moving among the shadows of earthly existence, to bring back the soul’s memory of its inward ascent and spiritual faculties while also becoming able to cope with the limitations of incarnated existence in a phenomenal world. These truths pertain not merely to the mystic and the Initiate but also to the psychological evolution of our entire humanity. We are so overpowered by the shadowy attractions and images from the Astral Light that we shut ourselves from the archetypal ideas radiating from Akasha. Our earth – Plato’s den – is only “the footstool of man in his ascension to higher regions; the vestibule –

“. . . to glorious mansions,
Through which a moving crowd for ever press.”

“Kosmos – the NOUMENON – has nought to do with the causal relations of the phenomenal World” (The Secret Doctrine, i 3). We are told by Shankaracharya that the knowledge of the absolute Spirit, like the effulgence of the sun, or like the heat in the fire, is naught else than the absolute Essence itself. The Dhyan-Chohans do for the universe what Plato’s guardians do for the polis. “They are the Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her ‘laws,’ while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers” (The Secret Doctrine, i 38). Where the normal eye sees only blackness, the average mystic sees a grey twilight and the spiritual eye of the Initiate sees absolute Light. The One Being is the noumenon of all the noumena which must underlie phenomena and give them whatever shadow of reality they possess, but which we have not the senses or the intellect to cognize at present.

The ascent of the soul is beautifully described in The Secret Doctrine and its descent into the world is referred to in The Voice of the Silence.

 The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyan-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cognizer is also a reflection, and the things cognized are therefore as real to him as himself. Whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world; but we cannot cognize any such existence directly, so long as we have sense- instruments which bring only material existence into the field of consciousness. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya.

The Secret Doctrine, i 39-40

The Secret Doctrine, with its teaching about planes of reality and appropriate states of consciousness, generalizes at a metaphysical level the truth underlying the allegory of the cave. In The Voice of the Silence we are given the practical and ethical corollary of this metaphysical truth. We are made to realize the helpless condition of the hosts of souls who will not avail themselves of Maya, and we are firmly told: “Give up thy life, if thou wouldst live.”

 The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Maya’s realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal for the changeless SAT, mistrusting fancy’s false suggestions.

 For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul.

 Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions: mistrust thy senses; they are false. But within thy body – the shine of thy sensations – seek in the Impersonal for the ‘Eternal Man’; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.

The Voice of the Silence

Hermes, February 1975
by Raghavan Iyer

Source: Theosophy Trust

See also: The Key to Theosophy

Incomplete Thoughts (Formerly “Finish It”)

And one more special message to go,

And then I’m done, then I can go home.

Over the past two years or so I have “blogged” 160 notes on Facebook. Their contents range from trivial mundane matters to the deepest concern for the human condition. This final note is simply a collection of my unfinished and/or unelaborated notes and ideas. These notes have been primarily for my own edification and this will serve as a type of Nachlass, if you will. As for myself, I’ve reached the paradoxical point in the book of life that demands of the student, if the student has ascertained the essence of the teaching, to give the book away and choose to cease reading and begin living.

Free Spirit – In the deepest and most spiritual sense is existential liberation from mundane existence and morality. It is difficult to accept and become at peace with the real idea of your own mortality, but it is almost impossible to accept and become at peace with the real idea of your own existence. To embrace the absurd is to truly exist.

You are not your fucking Facebook! The internet is the death of spirit. Look around you! This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. A thousand questions remain, but I smile and remain still, dancing in the moment and seeking only to live intentionally.

EDIT: I’ve recently had the good fortune of recovering some old essays of which I had thought were forever lost. I had penned them during a great transitional period in my life. If I no longer agree with the contents of these ancient relics, it doesn’t matter. They remain invaluable as part of my spiritual journey, if you will. Therefore, as a postscript, I will upload them and be finished.

Natural Theology and Classical Apologetics

Epistemology and the Metaphysics of the Soul

The History of an Error

That which has been is what will be,

That which is done is what will be done,

And there is nothing new under the sun.

Let go, or be dragged.


Joshua Synon

… … …

Disclaimer: You enter the abyss at your own risk of life. Sanity is not guaranteed to follow.

Edit (5/7/2017): As this entire post was originally a Facebook Note, all of the links included will redirect through Facebook. I can’t be bothered to go through and fix them all.


– Existential Psychology

– Students for Sensible Drug Policy

– American Civil Liberties Union

– Libertarian Party

Click to view my discussions and debates on Christian Forums (2004-2010)

– This 5-6 year time span covers the gradual deterioration of my faith. It appears that I took part in 104 discussion threads with topics ranging from “evolution vs. creation” to “biblical prophecy” and much, much more. You may have to create an account to view this link. Only takes a minute, though. If the link is ever broken you can simply search for all posts by username: JSynon. This is one of my later threads and still makes me laugh when I read it:

Morality is the essence of all philosophy and all conscious actions for that matter. Kant and Sartre were correct in asserting that man acts to define man. Whenever anybody makes a claim to an objective truth or universal moral value they are actually saying: “This is how Isee things. This is how I want things to be!” In this way, all philosophical discourse is indeed merely autobiography and creation of values. Some people would call this a will to power, but call it what you will. Hence, my thesis: For anybody to attempt to invoke absolute moral values or objective truth claims on me is nothing other than a declaration of war against me.It is no longer an argument over what the truth is. The truth is created by the stronger party. It is by understanding this that you begin to understand what is truly meant by “God is dead.” Philosophy itself has died: metaphysics, ethics, and all. Truth and the will to truth are dead. The big lie of the priestly caste (dare I say the weak souls and slavish), the attribution of absolute value to – Truth, God, Form, Noumena, Being, Reality, the Good, the Perfect, the Infinite, the Unconditional and Absolute, the Unknown, the First Cause, ens realissimum– to control strong and healthy souls, will soon end.”

“To base our entire conventional system of time on the life of Jesus of Nazareth: is there a better way to undermine everything this man was?”

“To commit living myth and legend to lifeless script would be to imprison it and sound its death knell. Christ himself refused to compromise his authentic spirit by committing it to lifeless script, but instead he chose to live the very spirit of the Law and the Prophets. It is precisely in this living authenticity whereby Christ became equated with Divinity and the Holy Spirit. For so it is written – the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Likewise, Buddha is also threefold nature.”

“Will I destroy myself by saving myself? Or will I save myself by destroying myself? Do not confuse spoken language and the written word with your own mind and your own existence. That is, do not believe that language represents reality. The word is not alive. Logic does not exist outside of thought. You are not what you think. The word is dead. Is this not also a significant part of the realization that God is dead? Is it not precisely madness and insanity to truly exist?”

“The faith of a child consists in trusting his parents moral imperatives as for his own good. When the child grows older he may or may not test these imperatives and if he does he will not only learn the reasoning behind them, but he will also surely suffer in some way from the learning. Likewise, it seems that the decadence found toward the end of every age necessitates a renewal of our faith in our collective parents – nature and ancestors. Only then may we again flourish in all our glory.”

“Numbing myself and shutting off my mind,

I walk a mile to work as another.”

– Joshua Synon

“Every belief, every considering something true is necessarily illusion because there is simply no true world.”

– Nietzsche


The Philosophy Pages

Squashed Philosophers – Full Text Index
Spoiler Alert: You Do Not Exist

Psychedelics and religion.


Native Indians.





DMT and the pineal gland? (cf. Strassman and Descartes)


Near-death experience.

Panic disorder.

Mystical experience.


Modern “anti-depressants” and benzodiazepines.

Pharmaceutical business and psychiatry.

Why the Buddha does not recommend substances to force enlightenment: Attachment. – “Earth Wisdom”

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Benzodiazepines: How They Work & How to Withdraw

War as business.

The Greek Olympics & the Roman Colosseum.


Harvesting Justice

Dionysian nature of music.

– Reconsidering Nietzsche: Six Questions for Julian Young

Redeeming Nietzsche – On the Piety of Unbelief by Giles Fraser

Vicious Circle by Pierre Klossowski

Nietzschean conspiracy.

– Regarding his insanity.

– Regarding the interpretation of his work.

– Regarding the colloquium at Cerisy.

Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Rollo May: The Human Dilemma

“In my personal interpretation of much of the ‘dubstep’ musical genre I hear expression of the consequences of a postmodern, digitally networked age in which “Generation Z” grew up. Never knowing life without the internet, the “online profile” provides their identity, while the ego suffers a bombardment of information (and disinformation) overload. It’s a situation in which humanity is further abstracted away from nature, perhaps more so than ever before, and in which a sense of coherence and purpose are sometimes difficult to ascertain as the world is experienced as fundamentally disordered, if not chaotic.”

– Joshua Synon

Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

TIME – “Is God Dead?”

Meaning is found in language as representation. What does life or experience itself represent?

Is there something of significance to investigate regarding the very human association of the sound of an alarm clock with feelings of disappointment?

In all seriousness I ask of you: Precisely how autonomous are we?

It is only when we have nothing left to lose that we are free to do anything and have everything to gain.

Kierkegaard Wikiquote

Kierkegaard vs. Nietzsche: Discerning the Nature of True Christian Faith

Nietzsche’s Criticism of the Herd Mentality and Kierkegaard’s Individual

Kierkegaard’s Conception of God

Heaven and Hell as state of mind.

God incarnate, as Logos incarnate, as Form of the Good incarnate, as Tao incarnate?

– Logic was made a man to contrast personality?

– “In the beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was with God, and the Logic was God. And the Logic became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

“Ever since the dawn of Platonism we have constructed a fairytale world to live in – and we have found ourselves trapped in it. Awakening, Salvation, Redemption, Enlightenment, Faith – whichever label we use – all are the act of letting go of delusions of the mind, attachment to those delusions (despair), abstraction, dualistic mind, in complete surrender to God or Nature or Tao, and – quite literally – waking up to become an authentic individual. Upon waking, all suffering, impermanence, death, despair – all are rendered meaningless as all attachment to abstraction, which is the origin of suffering, are emptied out of our mind and we discover our original face, before we were born.”
– Joshua Synon

Presuppositional Christian apologetics (essentially Platonism) and Kierkegaard.

Messiah ideology as hope.

Robert Anton Wilson’s reality tunnels.

Gordon Clark.

Transcendental argument for the existence of God.


Aesthetic – Ethical – Religious.

Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis.

Mind – Body – Spirit.

Subject – Object – Relation (Consciousness or Experience).

Calvinism – TULIP

Buddhist practice of non-thinking similar to Christian practice of prayer.

That very moment experienced as a profound burden fading away when accepting Christ in faith and the Buddhist experience of Enlightenment as identical feelings in which the whole world is transformed. Freedom and oneness are actualized as nature’s (or God’s) acceptance is realized.

The Real God: An Epiphany



Religion Facts – Just the Facts on Religion

Just the facts on religion? I can’t imagine a greater stupidity. Perhaps, Or Or or …

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

The Serenity Prayer.

For every ailment under the sun

There is a remedy, or there is none;

If there be one, try to find it;

If there be none, never mind it.

Jimmy Reid, Alienation

The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot

“If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

“Thank you Lord Vishnu for introducing me to Christ… Thank you for coming in the form of a fish and saving our lives.”

“Which story do you prefer?”

– Life of Pi

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

– Gandhi

Zen Buddhism

Buddhism is Not What You Think by Steve Hagen

Common Things People Believe About Buddhism That Aren’t True

Buddhism and the God-Idea

On Buddhism by Nishitani Keiji

The Zen Teaching of Rinzai

The Buddha and His Teachings

Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold

Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture

Advaita Vedanta

Nirvana Shatakam by Adi Shankara.

An Imperfect God

“No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

– Nietzsche

What is love? And madness?

Religion (institutionalized) as means of control.

Nietzsche’s often overlooked understanding of asceticism and slave morality being necessary for the survival of the priestly caste. Often mislabeled as a nihilist, Nietzsche’s love for mankind is an essential part of his teaching. However, inevitably, the time has come to “philosophize with a hammer.”

Nietzsche’s coined term, “Moraline.”

Is it possible to reject as much of our moral and linguistic tradition as Nietzsche did without following him down the road to insanity? One of the reasons biography is relevant to the answer is that his drift towards madness cannot be separated from the lifelong history of malaise. Fighting against headaches, pain in and around the eyes, stomach pains, vomiting, debility, he was simultaneously cultivating his potential for madness. His friend Franz Overbeck thought he had been ‘living his way towards’ the final breakdown…

There was nothing sudden about his movement into madness. He was only twenty-four when he wrote: ‘What frightens me is not the fearful shape behind the chair but its voice; also not the words but the terrifyingly unarticulated, inhuman tone of that shape. Yes, if only it would speak in a human way.’ By 1880 he was able to prescribe methods of going mad. In Morgenröte (Sunrise) he makes the point that madness – or at least the semblance of it – had been the sine qua non of moral evolution. The men driven to reject tradition and propose new norms had had either to feign madness or to induce it by means of fasting, sexual abstinence, solitude, and ‘concentrating resolutely on nothing except what provokes ecstasy and derangment.’ He appears to have been thinking of himself, St Paul and Plato, who said that ‘from madness Greece derived its greatest benefits.'”

– Ronald Hayman

Daddy issues?

“Dying in general, or dying from drugs, I’ve thought about dying all my life like any normal person. I’ve thought about killing myself for so long because of my stomach thing that I didn’t give a fuck if I was gonna die or not. If i was gonna blow my head off with a gun I may as well take the risk of dying from drugs.”

– Kurt Cobain

“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I’m not. Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.”

– Kurt Cobain (Kurt Cobain Interview Clips)

I’m such a nihilistic jerk half the time. I’m so fucking sarcastic at times and then at other times I’m so vulnerable and so sincere. And that’s pretty much how every song comes out. It’s like a mixture of both of them. And that’s pretty much how most people my age are. They’re sarcastic one minute and then caring the next.

One time I read an interview in his office and I said, “Jesus Christ, this makes me look like such a moody, emotional, depressive person.” And he said, “But you are.” I go, “No I’m not. I like to have fun sometimes.” It’s just, every one thinks of me as like this emotional wreck, this total negative black star. People are constantly accusing me of being in a bad mood and always ask me, “What’s the matter?” And there’s nothing wrong with me at all. I’m not feeling blue at all. It got to the point where I had to look at myself and maybe figure out what people are seeing and I thought, “Maybe I should shave my eyebrows. That might help, ya know.” People ask me that all the time, like even I went out to a club a couple of months ago and this kid just nonchalantly said, just out of the blue, “Geez Kurt, why do you always look like you’re mad?” I said, “I’m not mad. I’m in a perfectly happy mood right now, you asshole.” You know, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong with you? Are you sad?” Ya know, most people think that if I look at them and I don’t smile, that I’m pissed off so I go out of my way to make it look like I’m enjoying myself, ya know. I usually am enjoying myself. I’m hardly ever depressed any more so it’s a lot easier to be able to do that.

Opiates have always made me feel the security that I wanted to feel to where I didn’t hate people as much, ya know. I had a little bit of affection for them or, ya know, at least can see past the superficiality of their personality and think of them as a real person. Maybe they had a fucked up childhood or maybe it’s their environment that’s making them this way. It relieves some of the animosity that I have towards people. And I needed to do that because I was tired of hating people so much, ya know, and being so judgmental towards every one. I know it sounds like I’m almost defending my drug use. It sounds like a lot of denial. I need to go off on a little anti-drug tirade just to put things in better perspective. The last couple of months where I was doing $400 worth every day I was definitely noticing things about my memory and I knew that eventually my health would start getting a lot worse. It’s the truth though. I was healthier and fatter at that time than I am now. I said right out that I don’t regret it and I don’t, but that’s because I used it as a tool. I used it basically as a pain medication to get rid of a pain. That’s the biggest reason why I did it. And in that sense I don’t regret it, but anybody else who’s gonna get addicted to drugs are obviously going to fuck up their lives eventually. If it doesn’t take a year it’ll be next year. It’s so obvious. I mean, I’ve seen it happen with every person to ever get strung out and it’s the typical classic case that drugs are bad for you. They will fuck you up.

– Kurt Cobain

“The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night.”

– Nietzsche

Some of my undisclosed unique experiences.

– Jury duty.

– Pharmaceuticals.

– Hospitals.

– Local government (City of Wayne v. Skateboarding)

– Criminal underworld.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 update May 2013)

Psychology as moralism.

The psychology of psychics.

Psychology behind “The Secret.”

Social and cult psychology.

Cult of culture.

Depression and the Limits of Psychiatry

Kumaré. Fake guru. Real experience.

“Fuck psychiatrists. They all have severe mental disorders.”

– Joshua Synon

Applied Phenomenology & Existential Psychotherapy












– Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, Irvin Yalom, etc.

Applied Phenomenology – The ability to know what to do while being completely emerged in a situation.

Books by Kirk J. Schneider & Rollo May.

Philosophy of science.

The Evolving Science of Chiropractic Philosophy

Bio-Energetic Synchronization Technique.

Eulogy for Aaron Swartz by Quinn Norton

STFU, Continental Philosophers

“When the leaders become conscious of mass psychology and take it into their own hands, it ceases to exist in a certain sense. […] Just as little as people believe in the depth of their hearts that the Jews are the devil, do they completely believe in their leader. They do not really identify themselves with him but act this identification, perform their own enthusiasm, and thus participate in their leader’s performance. […] It is probably the suspicion of this fictitiousness of their own ‘group psychology’ which makes fascist crowds so merciless and unapproachable. If they would stop to reason for a second, the whole performance would go to pieces, and they would be left to panic.”

– T. W. Adorno

– Would it matter if Buddha (literally, “awakened one”) was not an historical figure?

– Would it matter if Jesus (literally, “savior”) was not an historical figure?

Messianic Judaism.

“It rests with every professor of the religion of Jesus to settle within himself to which of the two religions, that of Jesus or that of Paul, he will adhere.”

– Jeremy Bentham, in Not Paul But Jesus

Buddha & Christ

Buddha and Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard as Bodhisattva.

Buddha’s response to Nietzsche.

Zionism in The Matrix. (Libertarian research organization)

Anonymous Hacktivist group (

National news (propaganda) and private interests.

Private sector influence on government.

Authentic journalism.

Political realism.


Not only does the Constitution specifically allow the formation of a Federal Army, it also recognizes the inherent right of the people to form militia. Further, it recognizes that the citizen and his personal armaments are the foundation of the militia. The arming of the militia is not left to the state but to the citizen. However, should the state choose to arm its citizen militia, it is free to do so (bearing in mind the Constitution is not a document limiting the citizen, but rather limiting the power of government). But should the state fail to arm its citizen militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms becomes the source of the guarantee that the state will not be found defenseless in the presence of a threat to its security. It makes no sense whatsoever to look to the Constitution of the United States or that of any state for permission to form a citizen militia since logically, the power to permit is also the power to deny. If brought to its logical conclusion in this case, government may deny the citizen the right to form a militia. If this were to happen, the state would assert itself as the principle of the contract making the people the agents. Liberty then would depend on the state’s grant of liberty. Such a concept is foreign to American thought…

One other important point needs to be made. Since The Constitution is the limiting document upon the government, the government cannot become greater than the granting power. That is, the servant cannot become greater than its master. Therefore, should the chief executive or the other branch of government or all branches together act to suspend The Constitution under a rule of martial law, all power granted to government would be cancelled and deferred back to the granting power. That is the people. And I’ll conclude with this statement: Martial law shall not be possible in this country as long as the people recognize the bill of rights as inalienable.

– Norman Olson,

Privately owned for-profit universities and prisons?

The Universe Next Door

Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks

“What truly is logic? Who decides reason? My quest has taken me to the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back. I have made the most important discovery of my career – the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found. I am only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons. Thank you.”

– John Nash, A Beautiful Mind

George Orwell.

Thought police.

Political Language.

Alan Watts.

Cornel West.

Integral theory.

Democritus & Bertrand Russell.

Stoicism + Platonism = Christendom

Personal Biblical reinterpretation

Acts 17:16-32 (Paul in Athens)

Matthew 27:46 (cf. Psalm 22)

1 Tim. 6:20-21.

1 Peter 3;15.

1 Cor. 1:20-25 (Foolishness of Christ risen)

Gen. 32 (Jacob wrestles God)


– Christian Gnosticism.

– Islamic Sufism.

– Jewish Hasidism and Kabbala.

– Hindu Advaita Vedanta.

– Buddhist Zen and Dzogchen.


José Ortega y Gasset, “Man has no Nature”

Authenticity: An Existential Virtue by MarJorie Grene.


Concept of taboo.

History is written by the victors.!_Trilogy
Illuminati. Freemasons. Jesuits.
Unknown agenda behind secret societies.

Beyond secret societies: unknown individuals.

Fiat money in a digital age.

Privately owned Federal Reserve. – Alex Jones’ disinformation agenda.

CIA use of Facebook.

Admitted/proven CIA conspiracies.

New World Order.

Banking monopoly.

False flag operations.


“Forcefully spreading tolerance is intolerant.” – and democracy? and freedom?

The political and economic atmosphere of MMORPG Tibia (created in 1997) as a truly unique look at human nature and the political animal.

– Social Darwinism

– EVE Online as social experiment in free market capitalism.

– U.S. as well. Maybe also civilization as planted by aliens on Earth long ago!

Hindu Untouchables.

My philosophy brings the triumphant idea of which all other modes of thought will ultimately perish. It is the great cultivating idea: the races that cannot bear it stand condemned; those who find it the greatest benefit are chosen to rule…

To endure the idea of the recurrence one needs: freedom from morality; new means against the fact of pain ( pain conceived as a tool, as the father of pleasure…); the enjoyment of all kinds of uncertainty, experimentalism, as a counterweight to this extreme fatalism; abolition of the concept of necessity; abolition of the “will”; abolition of “knowledge-in-itself.”

– Nietzsche

What is it to laugh in the face of death?

Ayn Rand

Objectivism defined as ethics determined by the nature of reality.

Ayn Rand – The Virtue of Selfishness


“Trust me, I’m telling you stories. I can change the story. I am the story.”

– Jeanette Winterson

Death Note

Western decreasing value of maintaining a large family and the power of the surname (in a practical and non-moral sense). The tried and true way to worldly power is to maintain a large family and invest in a large family inheritance, rather than slaving away at an hourly paid job. To partake in the world community at the highest and most meaningful level. To be present among the elite – the small community of individuals that understand that nothing is true and everything is permitted. The few that truly exist. Perhaps this would be the highest level teaching in a secret society of gods among men.

“What I am describing is not merely a master-race whose task would be to govern, but a race with its own sphere of life, with an excess of force for beauty, courage, culture, manners, right up to the highest spiritual realm; an affirming race which can accord itself every luxury… powerful enough not to need the tyranny of the virtue-imperative, neither parsimonious nor given to pedantry, beyond good and evil; a hothouse for strange and exotic plants.”

– Nietzsche

“The force of mind is only as great as its expression; its depth only as deep as its power to expand and lose itself.”

– Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit

“The ego refuses to be distressed by the provocations of reality, to let itself be compelled to suffer. It insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world; it shows, in fact, that such traumas are no more than occasions for it to gain pleasure.”

– Sigmund Freud

“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” -Kahlil Gibran

“[Man] sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.” -Dalai Lama


– Intergovernmental organization

– Member States

– United Nations

– New World Order

– Planet Government


North Korean caste system.

U.S. caste system.

The Debt Limit Explained

Why TV News is a Waste of Human Effort

Plato as origin of theism and, ipso facto, indirect cause of modern nihilism.

Platonic zeitgeist still reigns as “science,” in spite of Christianity’s suicide.

The self-overcoming of nihilism explained.

Names of the Monotheistic God of Abraham

Islamic Theology / Philosophy



– al-Ghazali.

– Sufism – The Tale of the Sands.

– Language barriers.

Moses Maimonides.

Forgotten Truth by Huston Smith.

– “All living is local.”

Buddhism and transhumanism?

“From the perspective of the subject, death is never experienced, and man is therefore subjectively immortal. Now, from the perspective of the object…”

– Joshua Synon


– The World as Will and Representation

Escapism and technology.

Second Skin documentary.

Call of Duty “Replacer” advertisement.

Pope Benedict XVI resignation and Saint Malachi.

Will as all that exists.

Matter / energy as all that exists.

Relation as all that exists.

Qualia as all that exists.

Crime & Punishment

Theories of Criminal Law

“From a purely psychological point of view, I really believe that the police aid the criminal in not coming to repent.”

– Kierkegaard

“But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!”

– Nietzsche

Criminal Psychology

– Irreverence of “outside” authority and law.

– Reverence of personal autonomy, integrity, authenticity.

– Proximity to “state of nature.”

– View of law enforcement contemptuous.

– Street ethics (e.g. code of silence).

– Police as rival gang.

There is no empathy in the courtroom. Just arbitrary arbitration.

“Imprisonment is not an appropriate means of promoting correction and rehabilitation.”

– 18 USC § 3582

Four Forms of Human Being

Living intentionally. (will)

Living on purpose. (function)

Living for a reason (idealism).

Living on accident (fatalism).

Everything matters (samsara, conventional life) and nothing matters (sunyata, emptiness behind convention).

Relation to Platonic Forms.

The eternal moment.

Life as “play.”

Liberation and freedom in this context.

Critique of militant “New Atheism.”

– Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith.

The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake

The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking.

“The worst readers — the worst readers are those who proceed like plundering soldiers: they pick up a few things they can use, soil and confuse the rest, and blaspheme the whole.”

– Nietzsche







Decadence of Americans.

Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer

“You [white folks] have not only altered and malformed your winged and four-legged cousins; you have done it to yourselves. You have changed men into chairmen of boards, into office workers, into time-clock punchers. You have changed your women into housewives, truly fearful creatures. I was once invited to the house of one. ‘Watch the ashes, don’t smoke, you’ll stain the curtains. Watch the goldfish bowl, don’t lean your head against the wallpaper; your hair may be greasy. Don’t spill liquor on that table: it has a delicate finish. You should have wiped your boots; the floor was just varnished. Don’t don’t don’t’ That is crazy. You live in prisons you have built for yourselves, calling them ‘homes, offices, factories.'”

– John (Fire) Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes, Lame Deer Seeker of Visions.

“Through domesticating ourselves like cattle, people began civilization.”

– Masahiro Morioka

The Domestication of Animals and of Man (Part 1)

The Domestication of Animals and of Man (Part 2)

The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension

“Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, I realized that what I want more than anything is to live happily ever after. And do you know what the secret to living happily ever after is? Power. Money and power. See, once you have those two things, you can secure everything else — and keep it that way.”

– Lex Luthor

Money as power incarnate.

The will to power.

Power as control.

Money as the sole interest of everything political and/or in the “news.”

Political plight of idealists.

Money as a tool, as a means to an end, not as an end-in-itself.

Desire as the ground of morality.

Value of truth: “I will not deceive, not even myself” as moral prejudice.

Superman and Smallville as exploration of Nietzsche.

Lex Luthor as the real overman.

Or perhaps Clark Kent and Lex Luthor as opposite overmen.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (comic).

Clark Kent is Superman’s critique of mankind.

“If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

– Gregory House


Define Science

– “Progress”.

– Science-in-itself, or science-for-itself.

– What is the ground of science?

– Science as descriptive and not explanatory.

– Science is to outwardness as religion is to inwardness.

– Science as the latest form of ascetic ideal, following Platonism and Christianity.

– Problem of Induction.

– Inductive logic (presupposition) as faith.

– Brain-in-a-vat.

– The butterfly dream.

Modern Science

– Roots in Western philosophical tradition.

– Ptolemy and Copernicus.

– Newton.

– Galileo.

– Theoretical physics.

– Einstein’s special and general relativity.

– Quantum mechanics.

Philosophy & Quantum Mysticism


– Kant’s transcendental idealism = Einstein’s general relativity = Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle?




Ontological theory of relativity?

Problem of science and religion?

Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

– Calculus and infinite.

– Cyclical nature of time and space (and the material universe).

– Space and time as a priori experiential “faculties.” (Kant)

– Bending space-time to imagine higher dimensions than three.

– The curvature of the universe encompassing itself.

– Traversing “relatively” vast distances instantly.

– Zero energy universe.

– Computer simulation and higher dimensions.

– Ontological status of purely mathematical objects? Math as solely description of relation?


Overcoming Nihilism

– Death of God.

– Science-inspired nihilism.

– Nishitani and Buddha

– Original state (sunyata). (state of nature, original face)

– Domestication of man.

– No nihilism without Plato?

– Technology-inspired nihilism (Heidegger & Nishitani).




– Why is there something rather than nothing?

– Why is there gravity? (Kantian “faculty?”)

– What is nothing? Empty space?

– Induction problem.

– Ineffability of qualia (cf.

Is essential chaos possible?

– Posited as the dualistic opposite of order.

– Determinism and free will.

– Compatiblism.

Evolution/Science and/or Creation/Intelligent Design

– This is a debate that I have long since left behind because of the utter superficiality of both sides and the fact that each side has predispositions necessarily interpreting facts.

– Arguments for and against (irreducible complexity, 2nd law of thermodynamics, carbon-14 dating, etc. –,

– Theistic evolution.

– Instinct and free will.

– Do any animals other than humans intentionally commit suicide (or even have knowledge of impermanence)?

– Why is the origin of written history (Mesopotamia: Sumerians, 4000 BC) such a recent phenomenon?

Is essential randomness possible?

– In computer science.

– In reality.

– Correlation to the possibility of autonomous machines.

Logical determinism?

“What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism… For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving towards a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.”

– Nietzsche

Waking Life Transcript

Maybe Logic Transcript

Buddhism as anti-philosophy.

– Metaphysics and morality as means to an end.

Influential Eastern Minds


Nishida Kitarō






Lao Tzu


– Eckhart Tolle, teaches Buddhism in the West



– Purpose of Ego

Meister Eckhart

– Godhead as “God-as-God-is-in-Godself.”
All Faith is false, all Faith is true: Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes his little bit the whole to own.”

– Sir Richard Francis Burton


Al Ma’arri.

Jean Meslier.

Robert Ingersoll.

A message to Islamic terrorists (if there be such a thing) and other world condemners: hatred will never cease by hatred, but by love. The way that leads to the destruction of the corruptions of materialistic society is education, not violence.
Plato’s Philosopher-King.

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations Quotes

Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism

Max Stirner

Continue work on

– “All things that are in the world are linked together…” – p. 149 (added to Wikiquote)

“You are not what you think you are. You are not what other people think you are. You are what you think other people think you are.”

Vast exploration of philosophical ideas in novel form.


People cannot see themselves, only Others?

Enlightenment as ability to see oneself?

Spirituality as sustained personality (on a ground of emptiness)?

Karma and rebirth as Sartre’s created Self?

Christian mysticism and Buddhism.

Kensho (seeing essence).

Zen Koans.

The nature of fire.

Idealism – dualism – objectivism – subjectivism – perspectivism – relationism?

Theories of truth.

History of religions and influences on each other.

Two Truths of Buddhism.

Science and religion.

Human existence as knowledge of facts alone, but no experience at all.


Relationship to religion. 

As the true end of life.

Current morality, laws, and customs as seen from the year 3000.

Locking people in cages for non-violent crime is fucked up. But, alas, justice is the advantage of the stronger.

Law purged of moral bias, consisting of only pragmatic concerns – or, political philosophy liberated from moral philosophy. (Realpolitik)

Substance Abuse

Cultural interest in vampire blood lust as substance addiction in real life.

Video games, movies, drugs, etc. as escapism.

Internet effect on younger generations’ social skills.

My Video Game Design & Development

Bing (Pong simulation created in 2003-04 at LTU)

Custom Media Player (created at LTU)

Noxia (RPG Maker)

JSynon 7.6 RPG (Open Tibia Server)

Many other projects using 3D GameStudio (3D fighter, driving simulation, unfinished online FPS, and more)

Other simple projects using C and C++ with DirectX on Windows API (Chess, etc.)

Current project idea: Combine elements of Tibia (polity), EVE (economy), Terraria (player created content), to create an MMORPG with skill based gameplay.


Social Contract and tacit consent.

State of nature and apocalyptic film (revolution, the walking dead, Lost).

What is “the government?” (individual people; the state is the people).

What is “government?” As verb. As noun.

Public image as necessarily illusory. (Kierkegaard)

And representatives?

Illusion of government / democracy.

Democratic (or oligarchic) republic?

Government as noun does not exist.

Government as verb; politics as the most clever game man has ever invented.

Every form of government that man has experimented.

Political theory.

Ancient Greek polity size.

War provides meaning to life (will to power)?

Military-industrial complex and vested interests.

Police force as largest gang.

Politically correct world domination (i.e. the spread of “democracy and freedom“).


Born, raised, and living in the USA – I am not free to live my life as I see fit. In fact, I feel completely and utterly bound in chains.

Economics and “The Establishment.”

Elitist theory (aristocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, timocracy, etc).

Conspiracy theories.

Actual corruption.

Capitalist anarchy.

Refusing to participate in the national responsibility of voting: silence is a powerful weapon.

National security – when should we lie to the public?


Other as an end-in-itself. (Kant; categorical imperative)

“Virtue ethics” reformed.

Morality as emotion.

Evolution of morality.

A spiritual journey, something akin to “zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance”

(using “My Journey” note as skeleton)

Buddhism as escapism?

Is it possible to break a Buddha mind (i.e. through use of physical or mental torture)?

I am not a noun, but a verb. I am not a being, but a becoming. I am not a relation, but a relating. I am not a will, but a willing. I am not, but I am.

Into the Wild.

Alain Badiou’s conception of Truth.

Contract work for government ideology, persuasive philosophical [propaganda] writing? (How to destroy a nation from within)

Scale of the Universe

“Crazed scientists at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina have wired the brains of two rats to the internet, allowing them to exchange sensory information in real time, even though they were separated by thousands of miles (one rat was in North Carolina, and the other in Brazil). The wired brain implants allowed tactile and motor signals to be sent from one rat to another, creating the first ever brain-to-brain interface. It was repeatedly found that once one rat had learned to complete a task in return for a reward of food, the other rat too now knew how to complete the same task. The behaviour of the lab rats apparently indicated that the communication between them was in both directions. It is not yet clear how the information is coded by the rats’ brains so as to be usable by the other brain. The head of the team, Professor Miguel Nicolelis, predicted that the system could eventually be tried with larger animals and in time extended to humans: “We will have a way to exchange information across millions of people without using keyboards, voice recognition devices or the type of interfaces that we normally use today.” Clearly this would depend on the development of non-invasive techniques to share information between human brains. Professor Christopher James, an expert in neural engineering at Warwick University, noted that it is not yet possible to put information into a brain using just electrodes on the surface of the scalp.”

– Philosophy Now Magazine
“What does ‘outside of the universe’ even mean? Does anything exist outside of qualia? What is thinking, but a recollection of qualia? What stupid questionable questions. Thinking is stupid. I’m gonna go build a house… ON A ROCK!”
– Joshua Synon, signing out…