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Michael Staley
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21/10/2014 3:39 pm  

From an earlier thread, propagated here to avoid the parent thread going too far off-topic:

"Los" wrote:
Well, you've said a mouthful there. I *would* say that he "mince[d] words" about those beliefs, whereas you'd rather see his statements of skepticism as some kind of public face he put on for "plausible deniability." You might be right, but then again you might not be. Crowley's level of authentic belief in the supernatural is difficult to gauge, and probably should be discussed eventually on a separate thread.

We have Crowley's writings, letters and diaries spanning several decades. We have other sources, such as newspaper articles which he wrote, accounts of people who knew him, and the like. From all these sources, I think that most people would conclude that his "level of authentic belief" was substantial.

I don't think that Crowley's statements of scepticism were "some kind of public face he put on for 'plausible deniability'"; he meant them. He was interested in proving things to his own satisfaction, by his own experience, wherever possible. Whether this proof was to the satisfaction of others is another matter.

What prompts you to query Crowley's "level of authentic belief"?


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Los
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21/10/2014 11:11 pm  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
What prompts you to query Crowley's "level of authentic belief"?

Well, the context surrounding that quote was that belmurru had just said the following:

[Crowley] doesn’t mince his words about his belief in reincarnation, the True Self as the reincarnating Supernal Triad, and the Oaths taken in a past life informing the present one, in letter 47 of Magick Without Tears. These are some of his core beliefs, unprovable as he admirably admits, and they did very much inform his development of the doctrine of True Will.

His assertions of skepticism in other places are just “plausible deniability”, or his diplomatic instinct.

So it appears that both you and I don't necessarily agree with belmurru on this point, Michael.

In the context of that discussion – where belmurru suggests that Crowley’s “assertions of skepticism” are merely assertions made in public, not reflections of his authentic belief – I said that belmurru could be correct or that he could not be correct. I further suggested that Crowley's level of belief in supernatural claims is at least open to question.

I don’t necessarily think -- as you seem to, Michael -- that Crowley thought he had proved the existence of the supernatural to his "own satisfaction." I suspect – though I could well be wrong – that in many cases, it’s a distinct possibility that Crowley did not “believe” in various supernatural ideas (in the sense of thinking them likely to be true). Rather, it seems to me that Crowley may have developed an elaborate philosophical framework that obviated (in his mind) the need to demonstrate that these claims were likely true. In other words, he may have talked himself into thinking that it “didn’t matter” whether certain claims were likely to be true, and he may have elected to act, in select circumstances, as if such claims were likely true.


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Michael Staley
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22/10/2014 1:02 am  

I think you're clutching at straws, Los. Reading Crowley's works, diaries, letters, and accounts of Crowley from his friends and colleagues, leaves no doubt that his immersion in the occult - from his entry into the Golden Dawn, until his death - was at a deep level. This creates difficulties for people such as yourself who are attracted to Crowley, but who appear to think that there is nothing beyond what's rational.

I think that Crowley had proved these things to his own satisfaction. Clearly you disagree with him. That's fine; you're obviously entitled to do that. However, it seems to me disingenuous for you to then go on to question the sincerity of Crowley's beliefs simply because those beliefs are distasteful to you, or because you cannot imagine how any intelligent person can subscribe to such beliefs.


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Los
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22/10/2014 3:18 am  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
Reading Crowley's works, diaries, letters, and accounts of Crowley from his friends and colleagues, leaves no doubt that his immersion in the occult [...] was at a deep level.

Well, duh. The question wasn't whether Crowley was "immers[ed] in the occult." The question is to what degree he believed in supernatural explanations for phenomena generated through occult techniques. His writings are liberally peppered with comments calling into question the reality of supernatural claims and even questioning the relevance of their reality or unreality in the first place. I think there's a case to be made that he at the very least talked himself into thinking something along the lines of, "Ehh, it doesn't actually matter whether this stuff is 'real' or not," and so he may have professed various beliefs at various times because he found them interesting or fun or useful, etc.  If so, I don't think it's accurate to characterize that position as actually "believing" in those supernatural claims.

This creates difficulties for people such as yourself who are attracted to Crowley, but who appear to think that there is nothing beyond what's rational.

No, if it were true that Crowley was as much a credulous supernaturalist as some people think, it wouldn't create the slightest difficulty for me. He'd just be wrong on those points. I personally don't care very much one way or another what Crowley might have believed about the supernatural. You'll notice that you're the one who started this thread, not me.

I think that Crowley had proved these things to his own satisfaction.

Even though he says in lots of places that it's irrelevant whether these supernatural things are "real" and that we might think of "spirits," for example, as at best a kind of convenient shorthand? Again, it's of course possible that he really was a gullible buffoon in a lot of areas and was just putting on a show of being a skeptic, but if we take his skepticism seriously -- as you appear to do in the OP -- then his insistence on the irrelevance of the "reality" of supernatural things conflicts with the idea that he "proved these things to his own satisfaction."

it seems to me disingenuous for you to then go on to question the sincerity of Crowley's beliefs simply because those beliefs are distasteful to you, or because you cannot imagine how any intelligent person can subscribe to such beliefs.

If you take a moment to look outside the contents of your imagination, I think you'll find that my questioning of the sincerity of some of the things he claimed to believe has nothing to do with my opinion of those beliefs or with my ability to conceive of how someone can fool himself into thinking that such beliefs might be true.


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 Anonymous
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22/10/2014 5:08 am  

Los, it seems to me you're not really a skeptic so much as a positivist.

That Crowley questioned the reality of "supernatural" phenomena is true enough, but should be balanced by the acknowledgment that he likewise questioned the reality of "natural" (material, sensory, rational) phenomena as well -- such as he did, for instance, in "Eight Lectures on Yoga."

Thusly, Crowley demonstrated that he truly was a skeptic -- in the full sense of that term.


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Los
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22/10/2014 2:40 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
Los, it seems to me you're not really a skeptic so much as a positivist.

It's unimportant what labels you want to put on my positions or on Crowley's positions. It's the substance of the ideas that is important.

That Crowley questioned the reality of "supernatural" phenomena is true enough, but should be balanced by the acknowledgment that he likewise questioned the reality of "natural" (material, sensory, rational) phenomena as well -- such as he did, for instance, in "Eight Lectures on Yoga."

But that wasn't the question. We weren't discussing whether Crowley ever questioned the reality of natural world so as to arrive at an elaborate, disingenuous philosophical framework that permitted him to think, essentially, "Ehhh, there's no way to say the natural world is real either, so it doesn't really matter whether these supernatural claims are true." If you read above, I think there's a case to be made that this is what he did -- and that he might have applied such a framework - quite selectively, of course -- so as to permit him to profess supernatural beliefs when convenient.

As a small point of correction, I don't think the issue is whether certain phenomena exist but what explanations are best attached to those phenomena. Obviously, it's possible to induce all manner of visions through ritual means, as people of various religious persuasions (and no religious persuasion) across the eons have figured out. The question is which explanations we're justified in attaching to the phenomena we experience.


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the_real_simon_iff
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22/10/2014 4:07 pm  

93!

In my opinion it is glaringly obvious that Crowley believed in (what we here call) the supernatural. Of course to him there was nothing "out of nature" (that's probably why he used the term preater-human) and he was confident that science would eventually find methods and instruments to explain some day what in his times seemed supernatural, namely that the transmission of information between all sorts of intelligence (non-human included) via various unknown channels is possible and will eventually be understood by science. That such intelligence existed he had no doubt about. As a "savage scepticist" he was convinced by the facts (as would surely everyone who would encounter what he had encountered) and "forced into obedience by sheer superior strength." Much of his philosophy makes much more sense when you share this believe (see the True Will thread), but it is not a prerequisite for Thelema and one can embrace this system even when totally abhorred by those ideas and one can even consider the prophet and scribe totally nuts while distilling the parts one likes. In this sense, Thelema isn't very different from other religions/philosophies.

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 Anonymous
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22/10/2014 4:21 pm  

He also tried to turn himself invisible, with AOS as witness. This is an experiment which can be found in AMORC and Golden dawn. I bought "AMORC unmasked" last week. Almost every grade contains exercises which develops supernatural powers. An interesting read ( comments on amazon.com was very polarized. Funny.) which raises a lot of questions.


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22/10/2014 11:01 pm  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
I think you're clutching at straws, Los. Reading Crowley's works, diaries, letters, and accounts of Crowley from his friends and colleagues, leaves no doubt that his immersion in the occult - from his entry into the Golden Dawn, until his death - was at a deep level.

..as was his cynicism or scepticism e.g. 1947 In Magick Without Tears Crowley told his correspondent, who had just written to him that the Archangels and Elemental Lords “are watching,” “did you invent these beings for no better purpose than to spy on you?”  In other words Crowley is here asserting the impossibility of distinguishing between imaginative animation from real demons or the like.  No one has yet filmed an evoked spirit or if they did then they claim that the film was mysteriously and conveniently erased before they could show anyone.

However, here is  a great example of Crowley in "new age" mode talking about spiritual forces conspiring against attempts made by him and Mathers to publish occult manuscripts. 

These petty squabbles apart, a big thing had happened. Mathers had discovered the manuscript of Abra-Melin in the library of the Arsenal in Paris and begun to translate it1. He found himself harassed and opposed on all sides. In those days there was practically no public way of getting about Paris at all. Mathers lived at Auteuil, a long way from the Arsenal, and met with so many bicycle accidents that he was driven to go on foot. (There is always occult opposition to the publication of important documents. It took me over three years to get my The Goetia through the press, and over two years in the case of 777. This is one of the facts whose cumulative effect makes it impossible to doubt the existence of spiritual forces.) Other misfortunes of every kind overwhelmed Mathers. He was an expert Magician and had become accustomed to use the Greater Key of Solomon with excellent effect. He did not realize that Abra-Melin was an altogether bigger proposition. It was like a man, accustomed to handle gunpowder, suddenly supplied with dynamite without being aware of the difference. He worried through and got Abra-Melin published; but he perished in the process. He became the prey of the malignant forces of the book, lost his integrity and was cast out of the Order of which he had been the visible head.

Confessions cp 20

Is this some sort of hoax?  These two different views expressed by AC oppose each other.  Crowley was a poet and poets rely heavily on simile, metaphor, fantasy and imagery.  Also, once someone has made a statement urging others to embrace scepticism then any statement they make against that principle can be seen as some weird aberration, hoax or something else.


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Los
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22/10/2014 11:29 pm  
"david" wrote:
1947 In Magick Without Tears Crowley told his correspondent, who had just written to him that the Archangels and Elemental Lords “are watching,” “did you invent these beings for no better purpose than to spy on you?”  In other words Crowley is here asserting the impossibility of distinguishing between imaginative animation from real demons or the like.

I don't agree that he's saying here that it's impossible to distinguish between the imagination and real spirits: he's saying that spirits are "invented" by the individual. As he goes on to say in the very next sentence, "They are there to serve you; they are parts of your being whose function is to enable you to reach further in one particular direction or another without interference from the other parts, so long as you happen to need them for some service or other in the Great Work."

No one has yet filmed an evoked spirit or if they did then they claim that the film was mysteriously and conveniently erased before they could show anyone.

More generally, no one's ever even demonstrated that these supposed "spirits" can do things that daydreams cannot. Crowley was a pretty sharp guy, and that probably occurred to him too, all of his spiffy (and thoroughly unconvincing) "proofs" notwithstanding.

However, here is  a great example of Crowley in "new age" mode talking about spiritual forces conspiring against attempts made by him and Mathers to publish occult manuscripts.  [...] Is this some sort of hoax?

No, it's a guy writing a book about how cool he is (dictated, if I'm not mistaken, under the influence of cocaine).


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 Anonymous
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23/10/2014 5:17 pm  
"Los" wrote:
It's unimportant what labels you want to put on my positions or on Crowley's positions. It's the substance of the ideas that is important.

Whether or not labels are “important” to you, you have consistently labeled yourself a “skeptic.” All I’m saying is that you are really a positivist.

A label is meant to be descriptive. The substance of the ideas of one labeled a “Thelemite” would likely be quite different from those of one labeled a “Presbyterian.”

"Los" wrote:
But that wasn't the question. We weren't discussing whether Crowley ever questioned the reality of natural world so as to arrive at an elaborate, disingenuous philosophical framework that permitted him to think, essentially, "Ehhh, there's no way to say the natural world is real either, so it doesn't really matter whether these supernatural claims are true." If you read above, I think there's a case to be made that this is what he did -- and that he might have applied such a framework - quite selectively, of course -- so as to permit him to profess supernatural beliefs when convenient.

Well, I’m glad you weren’t discussing that because I certainly wasn’t (either). I’m not pretending I can mind-read Crowley. But I do know that in some of his writings he demonstrated how the material-sensory-rational reality we all know is the product of our conditioning and superficial observation, and does not withstand sustained scrutiny.

"Los" wrote:
As a small point of correction, I don't think the issue is whether certain phenomena exist but what explanations are best attached to those phenomena. Obviously, it's possible to induce all manner of visions through ritual means, as people of various religious persuasions (and no religious persuasion) across the eons have figured out. The question is which explanations we're justified in attaching to the phenomena we experience.

I agree. After all, those phenomena exist on their own plane, just like the material plane (that which we perceive with our minds and five senses) also exists on its own plane. 

But what do you mean by “explanations”? Generally, an explanation is little more than an opinion or belief, a pet theory speculating on some phenomena.


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Los
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23/10/2014 6:01 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
Whether or not labels are “important” to you, you have consistently labeled yourself a “skeptic.”

To be clear, I’m not saying that labels are merely unimportant to me, as if this were some kind of subjective preference: I’m making the point that, in discussions of ideas, labels are necessarily less important than the substance of the ideas that we use them to label.

I’ve explained what I mean by “skeptic.” Feel free to call my position anything you like. It’s the position itself that’s significant in discussions about the position.

in some of [Crowley’s] writings he demonstrated how the material-sensory-rational reality we all know is the product of our conditioning and superficial observation, and does not withstand sustained scrutiny.

Sure, and that’s a valid philosophical point on its own. But I would argue that it’s a huge mistake to jump from questioning how accurate our senses are to the implicit conclusions that it’s therefore not really possible to know anything and that therefore one claim is as good as another, with no way to distinguish which one’s more likely to be true.

I don’t think Crowley ever quite spells it out like that so explicitly, but that argument is implicit in a few things he says, and it’s an incredibly flawed line of argument. I see people who style themselves as his students making these kinds of faulty arguments as well.

As I suggest in my posts above, the disingenuousness of this kind of argument can be glimpsed in the way that the people who make it apply this argument only partially, only when convenient.

For example, if you were standing on train tracks with a locomotive barreling toward you, it is technically true that your perception of this “material-sensory-rational” reality is constructed in your brain and that your perception of it is conditioned in thousands of little ways that might diverge from the actual state of things (and that someone else standing next to the tracks watching this scene unfold might perceive the situation in ways that differ from your perception in thousands of very tiny ways).

But even though all of that is technically true, it’s false to say that therefore you cannot know anything about the environment you’re in. You can: you can be very sure that you’re going to die if you don’t move off of the tracks.

And that’s the disingenuous part: people who make these kinds of arguments when they’re trying to hold out the hope for the existence of preternatural intelligences or superpowers don’t ever apply these same arguments to the speeding train or to evaluating the claims of a supposed Nigerian prince who wants to transfer millions of dollars into their bank accounts. At best, they apply these arguments only when it’s convenient, and then drop them when doing practical things where they rely on being able to more or less accurately evaluate this “material-sensory-rational” reality that we all deal with every single day.

those phenomena exist on their own plane, just like the material plane (that which we perceive with our minds and five senses) also exists on its own plane.

What phenomena, visions? What makes you think that visions exist on their “own plane” and are not the rough equivalent of day dreams, generated by brains?

But what do you mean by “explanations”? Generally, an explanation is little more than an opinion or belief, a pet theory speculating on some phenomena.

An explanation is something like, “The vision I just had exists on its own plane, and it gave me information about my past lives and spiritual destiny.” An alternate explanation would be something like, “The vision I just had was generated by my brain and might possibly give me some insight into the kind of mind I have.”

I don’t agree at all that all explanations are equally “opinions” or “speculations,” with the implication that it’s not possible to determine that some explanations are more likely or less likely to be correct than others.


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 Anonymous
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25/10/2014 4:43 am  
"Los" wrote:
To be clear, I’m not saying that labels are merely unimportant to me, as if this were some kind of subjective preference: I’m making the point that, in discussions of ideas, labels are necessarily less important than the substance of the ideas that we use them to label.

It is a subjective preference, though. You have decided that labels are less important than the substance of the ideas so labeled. Someone else might decide that the concision and encapsulation embodied in a label is a lot more important than the sincere but ponderous discourse of the ideas. Yet another person might consider them to be about equal in importance, albeit accomplishing different functions.

"Los" wrote:
I’ve explained what I mean by “skeptic.” Feel free to call my position anything you like. It’s the position itself that’s significant in discussions about the position.

It’s not that I particularly “like” to call it “positivist” so much as that’s the label which describes -- by definition -- your general position.

"Los" wrote:
Sure, and that’s a valid philosophical point on its own. But I would argue that it’s a huge mistake to jump from questioning how accurate our senses are to the implicit conclusions that it’s therefore not really possible to know anything and that therefore one claim is as good as another, with no way to distinguish which one’s more likely to be true.

Of course it’s possible to know things. We all know many things. Whether it’s possible to ULTIMATELY know anything is another story.

"Los" wrote:
I don’t think Crowley ever quite spells it out like that so explicitly, but that argument is implicit in a few things he says, and it’s an incredibly flawed line of argument. I see people who style themselves as his students making these kinds of faulty arguments as well.

I wouldn’t say the argument is faulty, necessarily. I also wouldn’t say there is any competition between the material plane and the metaphysical planes, as to which has a greater reality status. To suggest such a thing might be like proposing that red has “more color” than violet.

The hermetic axiom “As above, so below” may suggest that each plane has its own corresponding reality and limitations, each manifesting at its own level or frequency.

"Los" wrote:
As I suggest in my posts above, the disingenuousness of this kind of argument can be glimpsed in the way that the people who make it apply this argument only partially, only when convenient.

For example, if you were standing on train tracks with a locomotive barreling toward you, it is technically true that your perception of this “material-sensory-rational” reality is constructed in your brain and that your perception of it is conditioned in thousands of little ways that might diverge from the actual state of things (and that someone else standing next to the tracks watching this scene unfold might perceive the situation in ways that differ from your perception in thousands of very tiny ways).

But even though all of that is technically true, it’s false to say that therefore you cannot know anything about the environment you’re in. You can: you can be very sure that you’re going to die if you don’t move off of the tracks.

Certainly. The material plane has its own laws of physics and principles of nature and these govern us, or at least govern our bodies. 

We don’t know what the material plane is really like, only how we perceive it through our senses and minds, so to this extent it is co-created by us. But “seeing is believing” and so we are generally subject to its limitations. Denying this is infantile. Of course, it’s possible that some persons have the knowledge or ability to transcend some of these material limitations.

"Los" wrote:
And that’s the disingenuous part: people who make these kinds of arguments when they’re trying to hold out the hope for the existence of preternatural intelligences or superpowers don’t ever apply these same arguments to the speeding train or to evaluating the claims of a supposed Nigerian prince who wants to transfer millions of dollars into their bank accounts. At best, they apply these arguments only when it’s convenient, and then drop them when doing practical things where they rely on being able to more or less accurately evaluate this “material-sensory-rational” reality that we all deal with every single day.

Yes, but just because some people apply these arguments foolishly or inconsistently doesn’t mean the arguments themselves are without merit.

"Los" wrote:
What phenomena, visions? What makes you think that visions exist on their “own plane” and are not the rough equivalent of day dreams, generated by brains?

Visions, daydreams, dreams, lucid dreams, astral projection, out of body experiences, near death experiences, as well as thoughts, ideas, inspirations, etc. These play out in the mental and astral planes, which are convenient terms for the fields in which the mind functions and relates in a manner comparable to how the mind and body function and relate on the material plane.

I’m not sure whether all of these experiences are generated in the brain or if consciousness is at times acting independently of the brain. It often seems as though it’s independent but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. The brain may be one thing, though, and the self another. It may be that our Selves do exist independently of the brain; perhaps we exist prior to our bodies and then take on a body (incarnate) and the resulting mind-body complex develops a persona over time. But that may not be the case at all. Hard to say. And, consciousness-wise, since we co-create the material plane with our mind-bodies, it’s very likely that we co-create the other planes with our minds or consciousness as well.

What’s obviously certain is that one can perceive with a duplication of one’s five senses independently of the five physiological senses, with the same clarity and tangibility as that afforded by the latter five senses.

"Los" wrote:
An explanation is something like, “The vision I just had exists on its own plane, and it gave me information about my past lives and spiritual destiny.” An alternate explanation would be something like, “The vision I just had was generated by my brain and might possibly give me some insight into the kind of mind I have.”

I don’t agree at all that all explanations are equally “opinions” or “speculations,” with the implication that it’s not possible to determine that some explanations are more likely or less likely to be correct than others.

Explanations -- yours, mine, Crowley’s, Pat Robertson’s, Albert Einstein’s -- can be interesting and useful, but I think considering any of them to be “correct” in any definitive way is wishful thinking. I’d say explanations serve us best when we don’t take them too seriously. The problem is when we get too attached to them, or invested in them, treating what is basically a map as though it were the territory. Entire religions, philosophies, schools of thought, and so on, have been created based on explanations.


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Los
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25/10/2014 5:25 am  
"aleks356" wrote:
Of course it’s possible to know things. We all know many things. Whether it’s possible to ULTIMATELY know anything is another story.

I’ve long thought that “ultimate knowledge” or “absolute knowledge” is a red herring in these kinds of discussions. It may be impossible to have absolute knowledge, and luckily, having absolute knowledge appears to be completely and totally irrelevant. Nobody lives their lives by absolute knowledge: we conduct our lives according to our evaluation of what seems most likely to be the case, as best as we can determine at any given time.

I'm fine just dropping the idea of absolute knowledge and having conversations about what seems most likely to be true, as best as we can determine at any given time.

We don’t know what the material plane is really like, only how we perceive it through our senses and minds, so to this extent it is co-created by us.

But this line of thinking very easily lends itself to disingenuous sophistry. As I just agreed above, it may well be impossible to have absolute knowledge (to know “what the material plane is really like”), but that’s irrelevant. Again, we live our lives not by absolute knowledge but by our evaluation of what we conclude is most likely to be the case.

In order to make these evaluations, we need a means of evaluating the reality we encounter, a means of deciding which claims are more likely to be true than others. You do agree that there is such a way to make these determinations, right?

The brain may be one thing, though, and the self another. It may be that our Selves do exist independently of the brain; perhaps we exist prior to our bodies and then take on a body (incarnate) and the resulting mind-body complex develops a persona over time. But that may not be the case at all. Hard to say.

Hard to say but getting easier. The functions of our consciousness can be mapped to physical brain states. Causing changes to physical brains triggers changes in consciousness. Damage to brains causes transformations in consciousness – in some cases, traumatic brain injury causes permanent personality changes. Memories are physically stored in brains. Etc., etc.

It sure seems as if consciousness is an emergent property of brains. Now, it *might* be that a self exists independently of a brain, but what reason does anyone have to think that this is true? When you postulate a “self” that is independent of a brain, basically what you’re saying is that you accept all the findings of neuroscience that I mentioned above *and* you want to glom on top of those findings a bunch of unsubstantiated speculations about independent “selves.” On what grounds do you glom on those ideas?

Explanations -- yours, mine, Crowley’s, Pat Robertson’s, Albert Einstein’s -- can be interesting and useful, but I think considering any of them to be “correct” in any definitive way is wishful thinking. I’d say explanations serve us best when we don’t take them too seriously. The problem is when we get too attached to them, or invested in them, treating what is basically a map as though it were the territory. Entire religions, philosophies, schools of thought, and so on, have been created based on explanations.

Well, part of what you say is true enough. I don’t think I’d ever want to say that we have any definite or ultimate explanations. But again, absolute/ultimate knowledge is a red herring. Let's just forget about "definite explanations." I'm interested in talking about what we can conclude is most likely true, as best as we can determine at any given time.

Looked at from this perspective, it’s not the case that all explanations are created equal.

In the example we’ve been discussing above, the explanation that consciousness is an emergent property of brains is not just different than the explanation that consciousness is some kind of separate spooky ghost: the former explanation is better supported by the evidence that we have. That doesn’t mean it’s the “ultimate, definitive answer for all time” or anything like that – just that it’s more likely to be correct, based on the information that we have right now. At the very least, nobody’s got any good reason for thinking the latter explanation is correct.

In an effort to find common ground, I hope we can both agree that Pat Robertson's explanations are less likely to be true than some other explanations. For us to make that judgment, we must have some means for judging the likelihood of explanations to be true. Again, you do agree that there are ways of judging the likelihood of explanations being true, right?


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25/10/2014 8:57 pm  
"Los" wrote:
I’ve long thought that “ultimate knowledge” or “absolute knowledge” is a red herring in these kinds of discussions. It may be impossible to have absolute knowledge, and luckily, having absolute knowledge appears to be completely and totally irrelevant. Nobody lives their lives by absolute knowledge: we conduct our lives according to our evaluation of what seems most likely to be the case, as best as we can determine at any given time.

Completely disagree. Far from being a red herring, ultimate knowledge is the cornerstone of metaphysics and philosophy. That ultimate knowledge is impossible reveals, first, that our instruments of knowledge (the thinking mind and body) are deficient for the purpose and require transcending, and, second, that knowledge itself is a limited, partial thing because it can never be ultimate, absolute, or true (because it depends on deficient instruments). This is why, on the Tree of Life, Knowledge (Daath) separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

"Los" wrote:
I'm fine just dropping the idea of absolute knowledge and having conversations about what seems most likely to be true, as best as we can determine at any given time.

“Most likely to be true” means “What I believe to be true.” It’s a question of faith. Doesn’t matter how logically worked out it is, how reasonable it is, how strongly you believe in it, it is still a belief.

"Los" wrote:
Hard to say but getting easier. The functions of our consciousness can be mapped to physical brain states. Causing changes to physical brains triggers changes in consciousness. Damage to brains causes transformations in consciousness – in some cases, traumatic brain injury causes permanent personality changes. Memories are physically stored in brains. Etc., etc.

It sure seems as if consciousness is an emergent property of brains. Now, it *might* be that a self exists independently of a brain, but what reason does anyone have to think that this is true? When you postulate a “self” that is independent of a brain, basically what you’re saying is that you accept all the findings of neuroscience that I mentioned above *and* you want to glom on top of those findings a bunch of unsubstantiated speculations about independent “selves.” On what grounds do you glom on those ideas?

Not at all. There is no conflict between the findings of neuroscience and postulating a self independent of the brain. Neuroscience’s work is confined to the physical; naturally, any physical damage to the brain would impair the expression of the self via the brain. But it would likely have no effect whatsoever on that self’s consciousness independent of the brain.

"Los" wrote:
In the example we’ve been discussing above, the explanation that consciousness is an emergent property of brains is not just different than the explanation that consciousness is some kind of separate spooky ghost: the former explanation is better supported by the evidence that we have. That doesn’t mean it’s the “ultimate, definitive answer for all time” or anything like that – just that it’s more likely to be correct, based on the information that we have right now. At the very least, nobody’s got any good reason for thinking the latter explanation is correct.

Of course, there is plenty of material-plane evidence supporting material-plane interpretations. Unfortunately, material-plane evidence is unsuitable for assessing phenomena beyond the material plane.

"Los" wrote:
In an effort to find common ground, I hope we can both agree that Pat Robertson's explanations are less likely to be true than some other explanations. For us to make that judgment, we must have some means for judging the likelihood of explanations to be true. Again, you do agree that there are ways of judging the likelihood of explanations being true, right?

I personally disagree with, and disrespect, Pat Robertson’s explanations but recognize that is a judgment on my part.


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Shiva
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25/10/2014 9:13 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
I personally disagree with, and disrespect, Pat Robertson’s explanations but recognize that is a judgment on my part.

That's okay. We're all making judgment calls, all the time, virtually every waking minute of every day.


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Los
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25/10/2014 9:15 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
That ultimate knowledge is impossible….

If ultimate knowledge is impossible – that is, if nobody can ever have it -- then “ultimate knowledge,” as a concept, is completely and totally useless, and we can discard it.

I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to be very sure that I know how to work my TV. I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to know that standing on the tracks when the train comes will very, very likely result in death. I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to be very, very sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. I also don't need "ultimate knowledge" to know that many of Pat Robertson's ideas are not sufficiently supported by evidence and are therefore unlikely to be true.

Those aren’t merely “beliefs” in the sense of being opinions that I elect to hold just cause I feel like it. They are evaluations of reality that are very, very likely to be true, based on evidence.

This is one of the huge problems with the kind of sophistry you're describing: you criticize “knowledge,” but when we actually investigate what you’re saying, we discover that you are not criticizing knowledge at all: you are instead criticizing “absolute knowledge,” a fantasy concept that does not map to anything in the real world.

Sorry, but real world knowledge actually *is* possible. Your criticisms of this "absolute knowledge" fantasy do not, in any way, impact actual, practical knowledge.

You can read more about my position here: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-soldier-and-hunchback.html

I’m going to be away for the rest of today, but I am interested in having an intellectually honest conversation about these issues in the days to come. If you are, then great. If not, then have fun playing around in relativism land (until, of course, you need to do something practical, at which point you will abandon the sophistry and act like you're perfectly capable of evaluating claims about the world).


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Anonymous
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25/10/2014 11:59 pm  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
I think you're clutching at straws, Los. Reading Crowley's works, diaries, letters, and accounts of Crowley from his friends and colleagues, leaves no doubt that his immersion in the occult - from his entry into the Golden Dawn, until his death - was at a deep level.

A "deep level" yeah sure he liked "deep" experience;"religious" experience as he was all for getting ourselves off whereas xtianity (and the other big cults) weren't/aren't really.  Here's the rub though; such experiences don't explain anything ever.  Method of science and aim of "deep" experience and all that.      Therefore "clutching at straws"?  Nay.

"Michael Staley" wrote:
I think that Crowley had proved these things to his own satisfaction.

Nope.  Once again; experience doesn't prove anything.  Remember your heritage; your ancestors executed anyone who stated that the Earth revolved about the Sun, lol.  Reason does prove things though but only after it ties together experience (data.)

"Michael Staley" wrote:
Clearly you disagree with him. That's fine; you're obviously entitled to do that. However, it seems to me disingenuous for you to then go on to question the sincerity of Crowley's beliefs simply because those beliefs are distasteful to you, or because you cannot imagine how any intelligent person can subscribe to such beliefs.

...............................


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ignant666
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26/10/2014 2:18 am  

david: i'm sure you won't mind listing a few of those executed for saying that the Earth revolved about the Sun? I'd never heard of such a thing and a bit of wikipedia reading fails to yield any evidence that this ever happened.
Without being drawn into a futile "conversation", it is painfully clear which posters have, and which have not, benefited from an undergraduate philosophy class. For those that have not, you might want to consider what Plato's allegory of the cave might tell us about the completeness and accuracy of sensory input.
It also might be useful to consider how relevant to thinking about AC's work the proposed inquiry as to whether our senses are useful in stepping out of the path of a speeding train may be- clearly they are useful for this and those who ignore sensory input indicating imminent danger do so at their peril.
Many centuries of natural selection have eliminated genes that didn't lead to senses that could avoid imminent body peril. So what? What useful information does this provide in evaluating how useful our senses are in tasks that are less evolutionarily useful?


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Brigitte Gorez Santos
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26/10/2014 10:16 am  

Having read this thread with interest from the beginning, I was wondering about what is included exactly by what you call 'supernatural'. Is it ghosts, ouija boards, poltergeists etc or is it all forms of communication with 'spirits', 'gods' etc?

Personally I think Crowley despised the former as charlatanism but believed in the latter. Whether he was right or not is impossible to tell. In my experience, things have sometimes happened to me that I cannot explain, strange 'coincidences', but it is not because I cannot explain them that their origin is supernatural. I think it also depends on one's background. Some deeply religious Christians will have religious visions tailored to their beliefs. This usually happen when they are in some form of trance. The sufi whirling dervishes aim to get closer to the divine through their dance. If I was in a trance, I would probably see a vision of the god Pan. Does it mean that our brains create tailor-made visions resembling our beliefs, backgrounds, philosophies etc? In other words, is it a 'man-made' construct? Or does it mean that the 'divine' will assume the appearance of something familiar to us in order to communicate? It is impossible to prove one or the other. It's like near-death experiences (the tunnel, the light... etc). Since the person who comes back to tell the tale has not been completely, entirely dead, it is not possible to tell for certain that they are on to something or that their brain created the whole thing.

As for ultimate knowledge, maybe David Bowie had the answer when he said in Quicksand, 'Knowledge comes with death's release'....  🙂


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Anonymous
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26/10/2014 10:37 am  
"ignant666" wrote:
david: i'm sure you won't mind listing a few of those executed for saying that the Earth revolved about the Sun? I'd never heard of such a thing and a bit of wikipedia reading fails to yield any evidence that this ever happened.

Heliocentrism was a thorn in the side of the Church around the time of it's reign of terror.  Galileo only had to endure years of house arrest but you don't think that Bruno's heliocentrism was an overriding factor in his execution and a warning to anyone who wanted to publically espouse his views?  Sure there is nothing in official history books about mass execution specifically for espousing heliocentrism but we have the secret history;  the all important 1st and 2nd degree Templar/Masonic rites of initiation were concerned with the 23rd degree tilt of the earth and the heliocentric implications of this.  Yes the Templar liberalism and independent banking aspirations would've p1ssed off Rome too but heliocentrism would've been lumped in, by the Church with the overriding Gnostic Mother Earth pagan paradigm.  The church's reign of terror was a general attack on anything to do with mystery school traditions.

"ignant666" wrote:
It also might be useful to consider how relevant to thinking about AC's work the proposed inquiry as to whether our senses are useful in stepping out of the path of a speeding train may be- clearly they are useful for this and those who ignore sensory input indicating imminent danger do so at their peril.
Many centuries of natural selection have eliminated genes that didn't lead to senses that could avoid imminent body peril. So what? What useful information does this provide in evaluating how useful our senses are in tasks that are less evolutionarily useful?

Is this in any way relevant to what I said to Michael about experience and proof and Crowley's belief in the "supernatural" ? 


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Anonymous
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26/10/2014 11:42 am  
"Brigitte Gorez Santos" wrote:
Having read this thread with interest from the beginning, I was wondering about what is included exactly by what you call 'supernatural'. Is it ghosts, ouija boards, poltergeists etc or is it all forms of communication with 'spirits', 'gods' etc?

Etymologically speaking the prefix "super " means 1.above, over, or upon 2.superior in size, quality, number, degree, status, title, or position 3.inclusive.  In other words anything that is somehow supposed to be  "outside" of the nature that is confirmed by sensory input; in short anything meta-physical.  This includes all sorts of wacky and unverified phenomena like ghosts, ESP, demons, gods, spirit, spirits and so on.

"Brigitte Gorez Santos" wrote:
Personally I think Crowley despised the former as charlatanism but believed in the latter.

Well you've missed a lot of posts around here where members dispute whether he held any metaphysical beliefs whatsoever.  The crux of this dispute is how and why we interpret various things that he wrote at various stages in his life.  Personally I view him as a sceptic as I see overwhelming evidence that points towards his espousal of the "method of science."  It's  a no brainer that someone who holds their system as being scientific should be taken on those grounds.  Why would we do otherwise?  Others seem to disagree and imo are compelled to fudge matters due to some sort of  need to cling to "religious" impulses which ultimately are based on blind faith....... but they usually even dispute that.  I thought Thelema was about progressing beyond such medievalism but ay......

There seems to be two camps and one side seems to think the other side is trying to steal their freedom trip...........

........but that's just a communication jam.

"Brigitte Gorez Santos" wrote:
. Whether he was right or not is impossible to tell. In my experience, things have sometimes happened to me that I cannot explain, strange 'coincidences', but it is not because I cannot explain them that their origin is supernatural

Crowley had a lot to say about "strange"  coincidences.  I started a thread on this subject here;

http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8

You may want to contribute. 

 

"Brigitte Gorez Santos" wrote:
Some deeply religious Christians will have religious visions tailored to their beliefs. This usually happen when they are in some form of trance. The sufi whirling dervishes aim to get closer to the divine through their dance. If I was in a trance, I would probably see a vision of the god Pan. Does it mean that our brains create tailor-made visions resembling our beliefs, backgrounds, philosophies etc?

 

Yes and Crowley mentioned this in his pioneering studies of comparative religion.  Religious experience is all about physiology and no more.  It's  a bitter pill to swallow for somehow who clings to faith but..........


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belmurru
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26/10/2014 1:16 pm  
"david" wrote:
Heliocentrism was a thorn in the side of the Church around the time of it's reign of terror.  Galileo only had to endure years of house arrest but you don't think that Bruno's heliocentrism was an overriding factor in his execution and a warning to anyone who wanted to publically espouse his views?  Sure there is nothing in official history books about mass execution specifically for espousing heliocentrism but we have the secret history;  the all important 1st and 2nd degree Templar/Masonic rites of initiation were concerned with the 23rd degree tilt of the earth and the heliocentric implications of this.  Yes the Templar liberalism and independent banking aspirations would've p1ssed off Rome too but heliocentrism would've been lumped in, by the Church with the overriding Gnostic Mother Earth pagan paradigm.  The church's reign of terror was a general attack on anything to do with mystery school traditions.

You're a confused individual, David. You claim not to believe in pseudo-science, but you swallow pseudo-history lock, stock and barrel.

No, Bruno's sentence had everything to do with his denial of the (full) divinity of Christ, his belief in metempsychosis (reincarnation), apocatastasis (the ultimate salvation of all beings, including Satan and Judas and the like), etc., i.e. real heresies. Copernicanism was among his beliefs, but he was not sentenced for that. Read up on the case. Of course, since you have the true secret history, you don't need scientific history, do you? You have belief, you don't need knowledge. Galileo's trials were due to the same kind of heresies, specifically atomism, which led some Church authorities to realize that it challenged the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which had just been codified at the Council of Trent. Copernicanism again was among his beliefs, but like with Bruno, there was no basis in Canon Law on which to condemn him for that - Ptolemaism was not official Catholic doctrine, however universally it was believed.

Anyway, you've been shown to be in error on your bald and bold assertion that

"david" wrote:
Remember your heritage; your ancestors executed anyone who stated that the Earth revolved about the Sun, lol.

So, who are all these anyones, charged, sentenced and executed for specifically that statement?

Naturally, your secret history tells the truth. It's not like people like Ptolemy knew that the obliquity of the ecliptic is 23.4 degrees or anything, and attributed the difference between that and the Earth's equator to the Celestial Sphere being at 23.4 degrees, rather than to the axis of a rotating Earth. No, they weren't smart enough for that. They believed the Earth was flat and all... 


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the_real_simon_iff
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26/10/2014 1:17 pm  

93!

"david" wrote:
It's  a no brainer that someone who holds their system as being scientific should be taken on those grounds.

I would guess that this is what Michael referred to as "clutching at straws". Because despite Crowley posing as a "savagely sceptical and scientific man", it is clear to everyone who reads more than his MITP that he continuosly believed in the existence of higher (praeter- or non- or super-human) intelligences, that are able to communicate with us. He did not call this belief a "convenience" or an "analogy" for any sort of experience, but for nearly all of his adult life he believed in these intelligences. While he admittedly discarded "spooks" or "goblins" or "poltergeists" (or the like) as quackery or "terms used for convenience and not real entities", he nonetheless believed that behind these terms was a real intelligence. An intelligence he was contacted by, an intelligence (veiled by the ridiculous "hidden masters" term for example) that determined a lot of his actions. He presented evidence why he thought so, why Aiwass had preater-human knowledge, why Rose couldn't have passed his tests without these intelligences, why Amalantrah was a medium for these intelligences and so on and on. And he gave the impression that he regarded this evidence as convincing, indeed so convincing that "people get annoyed".

Yes, "clutching at straws" means that it obviously is a no-brainer in your eyes that anyone can hold these beliefs, but to him it was totally real and logical and scientific. MITP might be in your eyes Crowley at his most rational and scientific, but it is nothing more than a synthesis of magical concepts and an attempt to clear up these concepts, it has nothing to do with his own beliefs and if I remember correctly Aiwass or the Cairo Working aren't mentioned anywhere in the book, because this intelligence has nothing to do with magic.

What is really quite unscientific is to say that the belief in such a form of intelligence and such forms of contact with this intelligence is the same as the belief in goblins, unicorns, giant squids from Sirius (at worst) or the desperate desire for any meaning in Nature or the flattering of one's ego (at best). It's not the same and while nobody requires these beliefs from you (and Crowley the least), his own beliefs in these intelligence is written all over his ouevre.

To me it seems the non-brainer is to deny this side of Crowley while happily accepting what fits your world-view. It's totally legitimate of course but I could imagine it looks somehow desperate to the objective observer.

"david" wrote:
Etymologically speaking the prefix "super " means 1.above, over, or upon 2.superior in size, quality, number, degree, status, title, or position 3.inclusive.  In other words anything that is somehow supposed to be  "outside" of the nature that is confirmed by sensory input; in short anything meta-physical.  This includes all sorts of wacky and unverified phenomena like ghosts, ESP, demons, gods, spirit, spirits and so on.

I already had mentioned it that of course Crowley did not believe in anything outside of Nature, so maybe the title of the thread might be just a little tickle for the likes of you, Crowley preferred praeter- or non-human intelligence.

Love=Law
Lutz


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Anonymous
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26/10/2014 1:36 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
You're a confused individual, David. You claim not to believe in pseudo-science, but you swallow pseudo-history lock, stock and barrel.

No, Bruno's sentence had everything to do with his denial of the (full) divinity of Christ, his belief in metempsychosis (reincarnation), apocatastasis (the ultimate salvation of all beings, including Satan and Judas and the like), etc., i.e. real heresies. Copernicanism was among his beliefs, but he was not sentenced for that. Read up on the case. Of course, since you have the true secret history, you don't need scientific history, do you? You have belief, you don't need knowledge. Galileo's trials were due to the same kind of heresies, specifically atomism, which led some Church authorities to realize that it challenged the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which had just been codified at the Council of Trent. Copernicanism again was among his beliefs, but like with Bruno, there was no basis in Canon Law on which to condemn him for that - Ptolemaism was not official Catholic doctrine, however universally it was believed.

Anyway, you've been shown to be in error on your bald and bold assertion that

"david" wrote:
Remember your heritage; your ancestors executed anyone who stated that the Earth revolved about the Sun, lol.

So, who are all these anyones, charged, sentenced and executed for specifically that statement?

Naturally, your secret history tells the truth. It's not like people like Ptolemy knew that the obliquity of the ecliptic is 23.4 degrees or anything, and attributed the difference between that and the Earth's equator to the Celestial Sphere being at 23.4 degrees, rather than to the axis of a rotating Earth. No, they weren't smart enough for that. They believed the Earth was flat and all... 

Have you quite finished o picker of nits? 

The church persecuted anyone who espoused heliocentrism.  Fact.  I made an error stating that they massacred anyone who held such views.  Thanks.  They persecuted but they didn't massacre anyone over it.  Ok great.     

We could turn this into a Bruno/Copernicus sub thread.  I won't be losing myself in it.  The fact that Galileo was under nine frikin years of house arrest suggests this was a major concern for the Church doesn't it?  Maybe you should read up on that.  Perhaps you could ask your local History Prof on the significance of Bruno's heliocentirsm in his persecution.  I'm sure scholars agree and disagree on the significance.  I can't be bothered splitting hairs over the issue.    Yeah ok so I'm not a professional historian ok you established that.  Big Deal. There seems to be a little bit of vindictiveness in your response which is rather curious.  We're moving away from the meat of the matter which you don't want to face I..e Crowley's scientific scepticism.  How about we focus on that as oppose to the red herring of squabbles over the Church's persecution of Hermetic and heliocentric scholars and my generalization (which might I add is a common mistake) on  helicoentrism, heresy and execution?


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Anonymous
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26/10/2014 2:03 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
93!

"david" wrote:
It's  a no brainer that someone who holds their system as being scientific should be taken on those grounds.

. An intelligence he was contacted by, an intelligence (veiled by the ridiculous "hidden masters" term for example) that determined a lot of his actions. He presented evidence why he thought so, why Aiwass had preater-human knowledge, why Rose couldn't have passed his tests without these intelligences,

ah yes the earth shattering coincidence of dopey, rambling dipso choosing the 666 stele for it's significance.  Come on!  I make reference to what AC thought about coincidence here http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8

He wrote,","the first and most irretrievable trick of the enemy is to dupe you into passing Captain Coincidence as 'Friend,' whereas he is naturally the most formidable of all your foes when it comes to a question of proof."  However he did seem to be open to the usefulness of imbuing coincidence with meaning (a la Jung) for purposes of  Magical Memory but I would argue that he meant this only as a tool.  Go check out the thread and see what you think if it be thy will.


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the_real_simon_iff
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26/10/2014 3:37 pm  

93, david!

I know it hurts when your hero doesn't share your world view, but he simply didn't. Read it up:

"To begin: the Author is quite certainly both more than human, and other than human."

"You disagree with Aiwass—so do all of us.  The trouble is that He can say: "But I'm not arguing; I'm telling you."

"the many other Beings of intelligence and power indefinitely more exalted than anything which we recognize as human—and, let us hope, capable of bestowing upon us a modicum of Wisdom adequate to get us out of the quagmire into which the crisis has temporarily plunged us all!"

MWT

Your tweaking of Crowley reminds of most of the Christians I know: God is not real, miracles don't happen, Jesus wasn't the son of God, but yes, I am a Christian and the message is what's important. Some might say this looks silly.

As a reminder: this thread is not about your world-view (fortunately) but about Crowley's.

Love=Law
Lutz


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Los
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26/10/2014 4:27 pm  
"Brigitte Gorez Santos" wrote:
Having read this thread with interest from the beginning, I was wondering about what is included exactly by what you call 'supernatural'. Is it ghosts, ouija boards, poltergeists etc or is it all forms of communication with 'spirits', 'gods' etc?

I think all of the above would qualify as supernatural. Obviously, if any of those things exists, it would be part of the natural world, but until such time as any of them can be demonstrated to exist, I would be fine labeling them supernatural (i.e. "outside of nature," i.e. not existent for all intents and purposes).

Personally I think Crowley despised the former as charlatanism but believed in the latter.

Well, sure, he said he believed in the latter. But as I've been explaining, he also said in a number of places that it doesn't really matter if "spirits" or if "past lives" really exist and that it's just kind of convenient to treat them as "spirits" or "past lives."

I don't know about you, but I don't consider that be "believing" something, in the sense of thinking that it's true.

Whether he was right or not is impossible to tell.

I definitely disagree with that. See below.

Some deeply religious Christians will have religious visions tailored to their beliefs. This usually happen when they are in some form of trance. The sufi whirling dervishes aim to get closer to the divine through their dance. If I was in a trance, I would probably see a vision of the god Pan. Does it mean that our brains create tailor-made visions resembling our beliefs, backgrounds, philosophies etc? In other words, is it a 'man-made' construct? Or does it mean that the 'divine' will assume the appearance of something familiar to us in order to communicate? It is impossible to prove one or the other.

Maybe it's impossible to *absolutely* "prove" it one way or the other -- but see above: "absolute knowledge" or "absolute proof" is totally and completely irrelevant. Nobody lives their lives by absolute proof: we all evaluate reality based on what we conclude to be most likely to be true, based on the information we have available at the time.

In this case, we know that brains exist, we know that consciousness is connected to brains, we know that "visions" correspond to physical brain states, we can induce visions by stimulating different parts of the brain, etc. There is also no evidence at all to suggest that consciousness exists separate from brains.

Given that evidence, it's not the case that we're in some neutral fog where we can't draw any conclusions. The evidence supports one side of the argument and not the other. There's no evidence whatsoever -- and thus no reason at all -- to think that there's some "divine" that assumes different forms to "appear" to different people for some inscrutable reason apparently known only to this "divine."

It's like near-death experiences (the tunnel, the light... etc). Since the person who comes back to tell the tale has not been completely, entirely dead, it is not possible to tell for certain that they are on to something or that their brain created the whole thing.

Again, the reports of near death experiences are entirely consistent with the what we would expect to happen when the brain begins malfunctioning as it shuts down. In fact, the tunnel and the light seem to be effects of extreme tunnel-vision caused by the brain losing oxygen (which would explain why it's so ubiquitous in the visions of people with oxygen-starved brains).

Once more, the evidence is all over on one side of the question, and there's no evidence to support the other side: no evidence that consciousness can exist without brains, no evidence that there are souls, no evidence of a mechanism by which souls might "leave the body" or whatnot -- nothing.

As for ultimate knowledge, maybe David Bowie had the answer when he said in Quicksand, 'Knowledge comes with death's release'....  🙂

I prefer "death is the crown of all."


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Los
 Los
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26/10/2014 4:45 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
[Crowley] continuosly believed in the existence of higher (praeter- or non- or super-human) intelligences, that are able to communicate with us. He did not call this belief a "convenience" or an "analogy" for any sort of experience, but for nearly all of his adult life he believed in these intelligences.

"It is more convenient to assume the objective existence of an "Angel" who gives us new knowledge than to allege that our invocation has awakened a supernormal power in ourselves."

"Ah, you realize that magick is something we do to ourselves. But it is more convenient to assume the objective existence of an angel who gives us new knowledge than to allege that our invocation has awakened a supernormal power in ourselves."

he nonetheless believed that behind these terms was a real intelligence. An intelligence he was contacted by, an intelligence (veiled by the ridiculous "hidden masters" term for example) that determined a lot of his actions.

He said it, sure. Call me skeptical about whether he actually meant it.

He presented evidence why he thought so

Laughably poor evidence.

What is really quite unscientific is to say that the belief in such a form of intelligence and such forms of contact with this intelligence is the same as the belief in goblins, unicorns, giant squids from Sirius

It's different in the sense that the *specifics* of the claim differ. It's not different at all in the sense that there's no good reason to think that any of the claims are true.

To me it seems the non-brainer is to deny this side of Crowley while happily accepting what fits your world-view.

I don't think anyone's denying that Crowley *said* any of the things he said, and I don't think anyone is denying that he might well have been so gullible as to have believed everything that he said he believed. But Crowley was also something of a bullshit artist, if you haven't noticed, and I think people are more than justified of being skeptical that he was *such* a credulous tool as to believe some of the ridiculous things he said with an apparently straight face.


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Tao
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26/10/2014 5:43 pm  
"Los" wrote:

Personally I think Crowley despised the former as charlatanism but believed in the latter.

Well, sure, he said he believed in the latter. But as I've been explaining, he also said in a number of places that it doesn't really matter if "spirits" or if "past lives" really exist and that it's just kind of convenient to treat them as "spirits" or "past lives."

I don't know about you, but I don't consider that be "believing" something, in the sense of thinking that it's true.

Likewise, it doesn't really matter if that looming mass is a speeding locomotive or a temporary conglomeration of molecules or a complex bending of space-time... but, if I'm standing on the tracks, it's presently convenient to treat it as the former. This doesn't, however, discount the other two observations.

Does this mean I don't truly "believe" in the existence of "locomotive"? Or does this just mean that you've picked one class of observations as more convenient for your chosen way of interacting with reality and elevated it above all others?


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Tao
 Tao
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26/10/2014 6:11 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
Yes, but just because some people apply these arguments foolishly or inconsistently doesn’t mean the arguments themselves are without merit.

This and your reply #15 contain some of the most sensible thinking on this subject I've seen. Thank you.


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Anonymous
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26/10/2014 10:32 pm  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I would guess that this is what Michael referred to as "clutching at straws". Because despite Crowley posing as a "savagely sceptical and scientific man", it is clear to everyone who reads more than his MITP that he continuosly believed in the existence of higher (praeter- or non- or super-human) intelligences, that are able to communicate with us. He did not call this belief a "convenience" or an "analogy" for any sort of experience, but for nearly all of his adult life he believed in these intelligences.

Oh boy................ and..........

"belmurru" wrote:
[
You're a confused individual, David. You claim not to believe in pseudo-science, but you swallow pseudo-history lock, stock and barrel.

If you're referring to the "secret history" of the 23 degrees of the Earth's tilt allegedly embroiled within the Masonic initiation rites then yes it smacks of pseudo-science doesn't it?  How could such a rigorous sceptical thinker such as I accept such BS?  Did I temporarily

a) slip up?
b) make a joke?
c) write such crap after a night out down the pub with friends?
d)let my religious impulses overpower my reason?

etc?

You were right to use the Ox- goad and pull me up for an idea which went unanalysed.  That was quintessentially Crowleyan.  Well done it reminded me of how he berated his students for rolling with their own unanalysed ideas. 

Now , if you can do that with me then why can't you do it with Aleister (method of science) Crowley when he asserts things like he reincarnated or believed in discarnate entities etc? 

We have a predicament here.  Why on Earth would Crowley, a proponent of scepticism go with such unanalysed ideas and apparent beliefs in the supernatural?  Did he temporarily

a) slip up?
b) make a joke?
c) write such things it after a night out down the pub?
d)let his religious impulses overpower his reason?

etc? 

I don't think that Crowley believed in the supernatural ,like I said Method of science Aim of religion...for Christ's sake.
This excerpt from chapter 36 in The Confessions adequately conveys this;

One may say, indeed, that a unicellular organism would be absolutely
justified in explaining the universe in terms of his own experience; that he
could indeed by no possibility do anything else, and that the sole valid
criticism which could be applied to his cosmology would be based on facts
neither known nor knowable to him. Apply this argument to our actual ideas:
any religion must rest of revelation and cannot be proved by reason or
experience. It is at once necessary and impudent to claim the exercise of
faith. From this it follows that religion must always be repugnant to reason
and its upholders must be prepared to be called charlatans
.

There is, however, one issue from this dilemma. It is possible to base a
religion, not on theory and results, but on practice and methods. It is
honest and hopeful to progress on admitted principles towards the
development of each individual mind, and thus to advance towards the
absolute by means of the consciously willed evolution of the faculty of
apprehension
. Such is in fact the idea underlying initiation. It constitutes
the absolute justification of the Path of the Wise as indicated by the
adepts, whether of the magical or mystical schools. For Yoga offers humanity
an organ of intelligence superior to intellect, yet co-ordinate with it, and
Magick serves to arouse spiritual energies which while confirming those of
the mind, bring them to their culmination.


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Tao
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26/10/2014 11:02 pm  

Interesting choice of quotation, david. This seems to most adequately support Brigitte's division of terms. Religion (etymologically: yoking oneself to the divine) will always be "repugnant to reason". However, when one follows the "Path of the Wise" and undergoes initiation, one attains "an organ of intelligence superior to intellect" and "arouse[ s] spiritual energies."

So: No on ouija boards and spiritualism, Yes on supra-rational intelligence and energy.

As you are so fond of half quoting: The Method of Science, The Aim of Religion.

"david" wrote:
We have a predicament here.  Why on Earth would Crowley, a proponent of scepticism go with such unanalysed ideas and apparent beliefs in the supernatural?  Did he temporarily

a) slip up?
b) make a joke?
c) write such things it after a night out down the pub?
d)let his religious impulses overpower his reason?

e) These are not unanalysed ideas or apparent beliefs. Rather, it is the reader's limited understanding of Crowley's scepticism and personal realty bias that makes them seem so.


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Anonymous
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27/10/2014 12:12 am  
"Tao" wrote:

e) These are not unanalysed ideas or apparent beliefs. Rather, it is the reader's limited understanding of Crowley's scepticism and personal realty bias that makes them seem so.

I disagree as I think supernatural statements have ultimately gone unanalysed which is why they are indeed supernatural statements.  Please show me the evidence for the existence of discarnate entities for example.  Perhaps you could film one and upload the movie to youtube.  In Reply #31 I showed that in chapter 36 in The Confessions he blatantly admits that supernatural statements (religion) must always be repugnant to reason and its upholders must be prepared to be called charlatans.


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Michael Staley
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27/10/2014 10:01 am  

So yiou think that if somethings is "repugnant to reason" then it can be discounted? That rationality is the final yardstick?


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the_real_simon_iff
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27/10/2014 10:18 am  

Los, 93!

Obviously we can exchange Crowley quotes for quite some days.

"Los" wrote:
He said it, sure. Call me skeptical about whether he actually meant it. [...] I don't think anyone is denying that he might well have been so gullible as to have believed everything that he said he believed. But Crowley was also something of a bullshit artist, if you haven't noticed, and I think people are more than justified of being skeptical that he was *such* a credulous tool as to believe some of the ridiculous things he said with an apparently straight face.

Do you think it makes much sense that he "said ridiculous things with a straight face" for all his life, in books, articles, letters and even in his diaries? Remember, this is not about if we believe what he said but if he believed it. I can't recall an instance where he specifically talks about those "praeter-human intelligences" of the Cairo Working and calls them such simply for convenience. To me it seems that he really believed in such a form of cosciousness or intelligence but he did not endorse a "personification" (if that's a real word, hope you see what I mean) of this intelligence into an Angel, Demon or whatever simply for the convenience of us humans who probably prefer speaking with "humanoid entities".

"Los" wrote:
Laughably poor evidence.

He seemed to be convinced. Or else we should call him a liar or a charlatan or a quack or whatever, not only a bullshit artist.

Love=Law
Lutz


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the_real_simon_iff
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27/10/2014 10:35 am  

93!

"david" wrote:
Why on Earth would Crowley, a proponent of scepticism go with such unanalysed ideas and apparent beliefs in the supernatural?

Being sceptic shouldn't be the same as being unimaginative, David. Is it really so hard to grasp - especially for those whose scepticism is dependent purely on some whacky personal, irreproducable and self-analysed evidence when it comes to Crowley's main concept: the True Will - that all Crowley wanted to accomplish was to be respected and esteemed not only by fellow occultists and esotericists and metaphysicians but also by people like you, the "scientific" community, people who can't grasp what they cannot measure. I think Crowley's whole philosophy makes a lot more sense once you realize that he acted as a "bullshit artist" only for the "scientific and sceptic audience", and not the other way around.

Would this change your view on Thelema? No, because this is not about you, it is about Crowley's beliefs and - even if you quote MITP or MWT until you're blue in the face - he showed such beliefs all his life all over his ouevre.

And of course quite a lot of times in the Confessions also:

"The existence of true religion presupposes that of some discarnate intelligence, whether we call him God or anything else. And this is exactly what no religion had ever proved scientifically. And this is what The Book of the Law does prove by internal evidence, altogether independent of any statement of mine. This proof is evidently the most important step in science that could possibly be made: for it opens up an entirely new avenue to knowledge. The immense superiority of this particular intelligence, AIWASS, to any other with which mankind has yet been in conscious communication is shown not merely by the character of the book itself, but by the fact of his comprehending perfectly the nature of the proof necessary to demonstrate the fact of his own existence and the conditions of that existence. And, further, having provided the proof required."

Love=Law
Lutz


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Tao
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27/10/2014 6:03 pm  
"david" wrote:
"Tao" wrote:

e) These are not unanalysed ideas or apparent beliefs. Rather, it is the reader's limited understanding of Crowley's scepticism and personal realty bias that makes them seem so.

I disagree as I think supernatural statements have ultimately gone unanalysed which is why they are indeed supernatural statements.  Please show me the evidence for the existence of discarnate entities for example.  Perhaps you could film one and upload the movie to youtube.  In Reply #31 I showed that in chapter 36 in The Confessions he blatantly admits that supernatural statements (religion) must always be repugnant to reason and its upholders must be prepared to be called charlatans.

How on earth would uploading a film to YouTube forward the analysis of Crowley's personal beliefs one jot? You seem to have gone off the rails again david. Time to course-correct. Might I recommend removing the "I think" from your lexicon and focus your energies on the "Crowley thought" side of the matter? Then it might start to become clear to you that, when he says something like "must always be repugnant to reason", it is stemming from a line in his preferred Holy Book: "Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown."

If he thought that supernatural statements were unconditionally false, he would have said something along the lines of: "...and its upholders are charlatans." As it stands, his warning applies to this conversation most aptly. Those of us who are willing to provisionally accept ideas that are "repugnant to reason" for the sake of sceptical analysis are currently being called charlatans by those like yourself who only believe a thing if they've seen it on YouTube. Whatever else the old coot might have believed, it's pretty clear from your quotations which side of this particular discussion he was on.


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Michael Staley
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27/10/2014 7:29 pm  
"david" wrote:
I don't think that Crowley believed in the supernatural ,like I said Method of science Aim of religion...for Christ's sake.

Think what you like, david. The mass of his written work suggests otherwise


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Anonymous
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27/10/2014 7:52 pm  

as far as testing supernatural events. experiencing them and testing them aren't the same thing. you cant reverse time to test things that happen to you in the past. and you cant make the exact same phenomena happen in a controlled experiment whether ritual or in a lab. I feel more confident in perception when its sane, sober, and skeptical. if it happens with those three then it gets more interesting really. Crowley asks in a poem , " did I see the things I really saw ? '


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Tiger
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27/10/2014 7:56 pm  

"Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow, in effect, into another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature, as the heroes, demi-gods, cyclops, chimeras, furies, and such like; so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging within the zodiac of his own wit. Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet - smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may make the too-much-loved earth more lovely; her world is brazen, the poets [alone] deliver a golden [world]. "

Sir Philip Sidney The Defence of Poesy


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27/10/2014 8:38 pm  
"Shiva" wrote:
"aleks356" wrote:
I personally disagree with, and disrespect, Pat Robertson’s explanations but recognize that is a judgment on my part.

That's okay. We're all making judgment calls, all the time, virtually every waking minute of every day.

True.


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 Anonymous
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27/10/2014 9:00 pm  
"Los" wrote:
If ultimate knowledge is impossible – that is, if nobody can ever have it -- then “ultimate knowledge,” as a concept, is completely and totally useless, and we can discard it.

You’re missing the point. Ultimate knowledge is impossible because anything we can know through our instruments of knowledge (reasoning and the five senses) is limited and distorted by those instruments. Thus, in order to access an Ultimate Something-or-Other, we need to transcend those instruments.

The recognition of this state of affairs has, for millennia, led to the Aspiration of Man toward transcendence, enlightenment, initiation, gnosis, wisdom, and so on … all synonyms for consciously getting beyond knowledge (Daath).

"Los" wrote:
I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to be very sure that I know how to work my TV. I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to know that standing on the tracks when the train comes will very, very likely result in death. I don’t need “ultimate knowledge” to be very, very sure that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Certainly not. I never said you needed “ultimate knowledge” for these mundane tasks, did I? Why would anyone ever propose such a thing?

Would anyone need to study, say, Thelema or Zen Buddhism in order to know how to balance their checkbook or purchase groceries?

"Los" wrote:
I also don't need "ultimate knowledge" to know that many of Pat Robertson's ideas are not sufficiently supported by evidence and are therefore unlikely to be true.

Ah, but most of your own ideas are not sufficiently supported by evidence and yet you believe in them very strongly. You are continuously inserting your own reasoning, assumptions, level of knowledge, desires, and ideology into all your determinations, convinced -- no doubt -- of the evidence you find.

"Los" wrote:
Those aren’t merely “beliefs” in the sense of being opinions that I elect to hold just cause I feel like it. They are evaluations of reality that are very, very likely to be true, based on evidence.

I understand it seems that way to you. It is common to feel like that about one’s own conclusions. It's always the "other fellow" who is wrong (unless he thinks the same way).

"Los" wrote:
This is one of the huge problems with the kind of sophistry you're describing: you criticize “knowledge,” but when we actually investigate what you’re saying, we discover that you are not criticizing knowledge at all: you are instead criticizing “absolute knowledge,” a fantasy concept that does not map to anything in the real world.

I’m describing “knowledge” as being subject to the limits of the reasoning mind and the five senses. Ultimate knowledge within these limits is impossible – “ultimate knowledge” as such is a contradiction. But absolute or ultimate states of consciousness do exist; just not through the instruments of knowledge (mind and five senses).

"Los" wrote:
Sorry, but real world knowledge actually *is* possible. Your criticisms of this "absolute knowledge" fantasy do not, in any way, impact actual, practical knowledge.

Of course, material world practical knowledge is possible. More than possible, we are surrounded by it, and partake of it, continuously. This knowledge is very useful for day to day dealings in the material world.

"Los" wrote:
I’m going to be away for the rest of today, but I am interested in having an intellectually honest conversation about these issues in the days to come. If you are, then great. If not, then have fun playing around in relativism land (until, of course, you need to do something practical, at which point you will abandon the sophistry and act like you're perfectly capable of evaluating claims about the world).

I suppose by “intellectually honest conversation ” you mean “a conversation in which you agree with me.”

I think it’s funny that you take on a dismissive tone, impugn my honesty, and accuse me of sophistry because what I say does not square with your own position.


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27/10/2014 9:01 pm  
"Tao" wrote:
"aleks356" wrote:
Yes, but just because some people apply these arguments foolishly or inconsistently doesn’t mean the arguments themselves are without merit.

This and your reply #15 contain some of the most sensible thinking on this subject I've seen. Thank you.

Thanks for the feedback.


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jamie barter
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28/10/2014 12:43 pm  
"aleks356" wrote:
Ah, but most of your own ideas are not sufficiently supported by evidence and yet you believe in them very strongly. You are continuously inserting your own reasoning, assumptions, level of knowledge, desires, and ideology into all your determinations, convinced -- no doubt -- of the evidence you find.

"Los" wrote:
Those aren’t merely “beliefs” in the sense of being opinions that I elect to hold just cause I feel like it. They are evaluations of reality that are very, very likely to be true, based on evidence.

I understand it seems that way to you. It is common to feel like that about one’s own conclusions. It's always the "other fellow" who is wrong (unless he thinks the same way).

- “Ain’t it ‘the truth’”!

"aleks356" wrote:
I’m describing “knowledge” as being subject to the limits of the reasoning mind and the five senses. Ultimate knowledge within these limits is impossible – “ultimate knowledge” as such is a contradiction. But absolute or ultimate states of consciousness do exist; just not through the instruments of knowledge (mind and five senses).

I’m not sure I agree with you here, but maybe we are bandying words.  Who was it brought up this suddenly prevalent “ultimate” knowledge aspect, anyway?
Hem hem hem… ah yes! - having just traced its tortuous path back (of being quoted and counter-quoted), it seems to have been you, aleks356, way back in Reply #12, when you remarked (seemingly in an offhanded way there, i.e., without wishing to take it further or make a long & involved point out of it):

Reply #12 by aleks356 on: October 25, 2014, 04:43:14 am:

Of course it’s possible to know things. We all know many things. Whether it’s possible to ULTIMATELY know anything is another story.

So, I’m not clear here then – are you saying it is theoretically possible to achieve “ultimate knowledge”, or just that you believe in “absolute or ultimate states of consciousness” - and could it therefore be possible to be in a state of ultimate consciousness without also (thereby) acquiring ultimate knowledge (=omniscience)?

"aleks356" wrote:
I suppose by “intellectually honest conversation ” you mean “a conversation in which you agree with me.”

I think it’s funny that you take on a dismissive tone, impugn my honesty, and accuse me of sophistry because what I say does not square with your own position.

Ha! 😀  (“Join the club”, mon brave!)

oyJN'


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ignant666
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28/10/2014 11:04 pm  
"david" wrote:
We have a predicament here.  Why on Earth would Crowley, a proponent of scepticism go with such unanalysed ideas and apparent beliefs in the supernatural?  Did he temporarily
a) slip up?
b) make a joke?
c) write such things it after a night out down the pub?
d)let his religious impulses overpower his reason?

The clearly correct answer for AC would be "all of the above"; review The Book Of Lies, and, well, everything else- that was more or less his "Method", for gods' sakes!
You posting this may show that the "Ox-Goad" you mentioned above can be useful, & kudos for your gracious acknowledgement though more study may be indicated.
i think some are too hard on david, who shows distinct signs of actual thinking unlike some who may have led him astray...


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ignant666
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28/10/2014 11:17 pm  

As an addendum, "all of the above" was also AC's historically documented answer to sexuality, "libated states", politics, and all else, in addition to "choices" he rejected between "real"/"not real", "Aiwass"/"Some Guy I Met Once"/"My 'HGA'"/"The Logos Of the Aeon"/"The Integer And Counting Number 93"/etc., "signing this means I owe this money"/"What?", "You are my most advanced student"/"You have never understood anything and are expelled from the Order","My Mountain-Climbing Mentor Who [Intercoursed] Me Once In A Tent"/"The Head Honcho Of The Secret Chiefs" etc etc etc
Do some never actually read this stuff?


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ignant666
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29/10/2014 1:04 am  

With apologies for triple-posting, as if i were some kind of automaton, or "bot": The "all of the above"-ness may be what happens when one swears to "interpret every [nb] phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with [one's] soul."
Without getting into a "conversation", the understanding that AC engaged in what is called in the movie biz "the willing suspension of disbelief" with regard to what are called praeternatural things is dead right.
What some resist seeing, or are blind to, is that he was more catholic in his skepticism than they wish; one hopes their "Eye", or pyramid, has not been profaned, or closed, or anything like that.


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Michael Staley
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29/10/2014 1:33 am  
"ignant666" wrote:
Without getting into a "conversation", the understanding that AC engaged in what is called in the movie biz "the willing suspension of disbelief" with regard to what are called praeternatural things is dead right.

It's a matter of opinion, but I don 't agree. His acceptance of the reality of praeter-human intelligence is clear to me. I don't think that there's anything of "the willing suspension of disbelief" about it.


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ignant666
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29/10/2014 2:28 am  

Very likely i was unclear (words, like senses, are very imperfect tools, but, in both cases, are all we have): if i said he "believed" in the praeternatural fully as much as he "disbelieved" in his breakfast, and vice versa, and equally willfully, would that work better?
Or we may just disagree as to AC's relative views of "real"/"unreal" things, but I am not disputing anything you say, and am just saying the same thing as you, from a different angle, as far i can tell


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