|The Philosophy of Aetius||Contents|
SCHOLA AETII·MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2018|
An Introduction to the New Classic Philosophy
of Gaius Florius Aetius and his Schola Aetii
A few words in the beginning. The path to this point was long and had many sideways, but such is the work of the Gods, that indeed they work in mysterious ways. The goal of this writing is to give a comprehensive overview on the Philosophy which I am developing. The question I was asked in debates time and again, which Classic Philosophy would I rather count myself into, and I found that my views were so eclectic and in other parts so my own, that I usually ended feeling embarrassed not being able to give a clear answer. Still, I know inside of my mind, it all had grown into something of it's own, and what remained to be done, was forging the parts into something coherent, seeking my own guidelines and applying them to the various questions, and so the answer today is: I am a follower of my own School of Philosophy, that of Aetius, which is my Roman name. No made up name would be so honest and clear, as calling it after myself. I regard myself as the first founder of the new Classic Philosophy, because I argue and work along the lines of thought of the Pagan Hellenes and Romans, and since their Schools were closed after the rise of Christianity, that development was halted. To be clear, I am not even remotely the equal of the Great Minds of that distant past. But as in any other reconstruction work, we have to begin somewhere. This is such a beginning as others, as I hope, will and must build and continue.
What is the aim and goal of a Philosophy?
Philosophy aims to create an explanation for the world, it is not focusing on just one element of knowledge, but takes the whole matter of life, of existence and meaning into consideration. What I shall focus on in this introduction is Knowledge itself, the nature of spirituality, religion and the nature of the Gods, of the Human Soul and of Ethics, the idea of Evil and finally I shall write a chapter of demarcation against the other Schools of Thought, namely Epicurean, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoa and Christianity.
A final note. I will a few times use German terms in brackets, for of course the outline of my philosophy was written in my own language, the language in which I am thinking, and it might be helpful, when in later times people can come back and know some terms as they were at first in my own language, especially where I thought that the German term may have a bit a different emphasis, which the English terms I know do not entirely cover in the same way.
(I) ON COGNITION
The beginning of every Philosophy must be the question, what do we know and how can we know? German has this wonderful word called “Erkenntnis”, with “kennen”, knowing in the sense of being familiar with. Like I know a person, a friend for many years, it has a sense of personal intimacy. Cognition is the central and first question in any Philosophy, for simply asking: what do we actually know? Philosophy never creates truth; that is the aim of the natural sciences. They disassemble and dissect things, cut them into ever smaller pieces and explain their mechanism. And while one may take that gathering of factual information as true, facts do not generate Knowledge and Wisdom. That is not to belittle the natural sciences, but from how the elements of the worlds are, we can not conclude much of what we should do, or what we could do, nor is the aim of a true and classic Philosophy to confine itself to mere fact gathering. That is not our task as Philosophers. We generate perspectives, we create narratives, maps of spiritual cartography, which the individual can use to navigate through life. And so the different philosophies are like different ways to travel.
As such it is important to note, that truth is always and alone generated by the individual. There is no democratic process of generating truth, for that would merely be oppression. What is true, is true for YOU the individual, because you were convinced with your own thinking. And then a set of ideas becomes the truth for you. It may be in part or entirely the factual truth as it is, but that you can not know. What we can do however, is agree as a society on a set of truths and establish them to guide us in our path together. And in all these, the Philosopher is a helper, or a Midwife, like the Holy Socrates used to say. Now in the process of Science we may have critique and debate to test how true our ideas are; we test philosophical ideas in debate with others, just as the Hellenes did. But ultimately, it is the many individuals, each for itself, who are either convinced or not. There is no collective entity, like a magically summoned being, which decides. “The society” does not make decisions, people do. We adapt to a collectively held view as a matter of necessity, but the collective is not the generator of truth.
Now how does the individual generate truths? Basically in three ways: through Introspection (Innenschau), through the experience of your Biography and through logical deduction. These are the sources of information we have. The spiritual experience looking inwards, the judgment about things which the life we live teaches us, and reason which enables us to think, to deduce. Fitting to these we have three methods of improving the gathered theories we have formed from all these, and these are Experience (Erfahrung), Study and Comparison. Experience is practical, when we want to know more about a task, we do it, we experiment, experience. When you want to know how the life of a Miner is, you work as a Miner for a time, and you gain understanding of the hardships. Second there is Study, that is what we do, for example in Schools and Universities: we learn, usually by a guide of a comprehensive and systematic nature. Like for example you go to a University and learn to become a Historian or Physicist. Finally, through comparison, and that usually means debate, talk, conversation. The Classic Philosophers held the Platonic Dialogue in high regard. I personally prefer the Aristotelian form of dialogue, where in longer session one side presents a coherent selection of ideas, and the speech is not so often interrupted. The Platonic Dialogue is best done in actual talking, while in writing it cuts the train of thought in my personal view too much, and makes the actual idea sometimes difficult to follow, or worse, misleads the reader.
Bound to the three ways of Cognition are the various systems generated in society:
A) INTROSPECTION: the spiritual experience of the individual generating Spiritual Systems and Religions.
B) BIOGRAPHY: the personal way to live (Lebensführung) generating forms of Society and sets of collectively assumed Ethics.
C) DEDUCTION: logical thinking of the individual generating Systems of Science and Education
Being generated by the individual, Philosophy remains an open process which is never finished. However, societies demand and need mandatory normative ideas to plan ahead, to have a cohesion, and so over time things generated by individuals will become established traditions, reflecting the grown nature of a collective of beings and has then a gravity of it's own, which nobody would easily overthrow or toss aside. It is this field of tension, the chaos of the individual and the need for order of the collective, wherein the Balance of Living Philosophy lies.
The general question of Theology is: how do we know of the spiritual matters? I will start this question as broadly as possible, hence the term “spiritual matters”, and I shall move on the Gods in particular in the next chapter. We have three possible sources to know of spiritual matters: first from observing the world and drawing conclusions, second from the spiritual introspection or spiritual experiences like visions or dreams or omens, and finally from the memory of our Divine Origin.
(A) THROUGH OBSERVATION
Drawing conclusions about the matter of spirituality is the most mundane way. It is not a bad way, but it has its limitations. Now observing the world and concluding on the Spiritual or Divine requires one step before, and that is the acceptance of what is known as the Hermetic Paradigm, which simplified says, “as above so below”. This means, we have to assume and accept that the world of the spiritual and the world of matter are not either entirely disconnected nor entirely alien to one another. It is an assumption based on experience and practicality. Experience tells us that the powers of the Divine are interested in the world, and practicality leads us to assume that as necessity. For a Spiritual or Divine realm totally different than the world (Mundus), would mean the Powers of the “Beyond” were disinterested and disconnected, and then we could forfeit the entire thing, which in the essence is just a thinly veiled form of Nihilism. Therein also lies the danger of devaluing the world or even condemning the material world as a fallen, evil or illusionairy thing, and a Pagan Philosophy can not go that way. For the Pagan, the world is sanctified by the presence of the Spiritual and the Divine IN IT. As such, the World must reflect the Divine or Higher Planes in some way. So we see the turning of the Seasons, the cycle of Day and Night, the waxing and waning of the Moon, the ever radiant light of the Sun and other elements of the Cosmos as Parables or hints towards the realm of Spirituality.
(B) THROUGH VISION
It is a strange fact that Gods tend to be picky. I have written a Lecture about the topic, “Lesson 2: Why the Gods only speak to some”. Every religion is founded by Seers. There are always individuals who start the whole thing, even though mostly we have forgotten them, since the Seers and Shamans of the distant past lived long before people wrote things down. But there are always those, who have a connection to the Divine and the Divine that prefers some individuals for reasons we can not entirely fathom. Now people may learn techniques of the Seer or shamanic practices to consult the Gods, and thus lineages are upheld, but it is not a path everyone can succeed on. Apparently it is the way of the Gods to speak through some and then others are put in the situation to be tested in their trust, as well as in the difficult duty to discern who is a Seer and who is a Crook. But it is also a matter of the division of labor. People become experts in what they do, when they focus on one thing, and with being a Seer it is the same. Learning to commune with the Gods and the Gods establishing a trusted connection to a Seer is such an arduous task for both parties involved, the Gods simply can't do it with everyone the same. The connection to the Divine is also a strenuous task, one not everyone would or could endure. Over time then from the early Seers and Shamans, societies try to formalize consulting the Gods and then develop artificial methods of Divination. So we have then two forms of Divining the will of the Gods: natural, through vision, dream and exalted mind (like a trance), and artificial divination, like bird flight, Augury, I Ching, Tarot or anything like that. Though it is clear that the artificial follows after the natural method, for without the guidance of the Seers, the people never could create artificial methods of Divination in the first place.
For me both ways of Divination are equal in value, each has their strengths and weaknesses. Now of course the challenge with the Seers is, that we are in the situation to judge who is an actual Seer and who is a Crook or Madman. Though sometimes we know also, the Gods do speak through the Mad. But we have to apply common sense here. Seers can and must be trained, they need to be rooted in a tradition, but ultimately it is not up to Men to command the Gods not to speak through Seers. Our Gods are Living Gods, and that implies that they never stop speaking to us. Since the Gods are interested in us and our well-being, they will not wait for us to consult them, but send us Omens and Signs and Seers and Prophets to guide us, to give us hints in challenging times and situations.
(C) OUR DIVINE MEMORY
Plato wrote in his book “Phaidros – On Beauty”, that the Human Soul once was in the company of the Gods, that the Divine Realm is the origin of the Human Soul, which is one reason why we love all that is beautiful in the world, for it reminds us of the beauty of the Divine Home from where we came. That is also how the world is not a fallen place, despite the reality it has limited us and remains a place of trial and challenge, it also reflects the Higher Planes, and so we are reminded of the Divine Principles in the world (mundus), and so we are drawn to beauty and harmony. We love the Sunrise and the peaceful waves of the Ocean, the smell of the clean air and of green grass, the golden corn in the wind, the majestic mountains and the eagle circling around them, and all the great things in this world, but also each other, the beauty of men, the beauty of things we shape in accordance to the harmony we remember in the elevated forms of Art we create: a piece of music, a painting, a sculpture, a building of great architectural value: all these also remind us of the Beauty of the Divine, which we so loved and from where we came.
It is therefore the error of the Neoplatonists who, maybe under the influence of the oriental religions rising, condemned the material world as one of evil, a fallen place, a mere trap to be condemned and a root of sin. No, for the Pagan Philosopher, the world is sanctified by the Divine, where the Higher Planes are not some alien outside, but interwoven and connected with the mundus, with the mundane world being a reflection and manifestation of the Divine, although in lower, lesser form, but it remains a parable, a place full of wondrous hints and teachings to anyone with open eyes. In Matter the Divine is like a reflection, a painting or sculpture, and like the painting is just a momentary view of a living entity, immovable and stagnate, it still reflects and reminds us of the Living Gods who are the arbiters of the Cosmos. And as it is written by Plato in “Phaidros”, since every human soul was in the entourage of another God, so groups of people have different memories of what is beautiful, what is right and so souls of similar nature are drawn together, where some are Solar, others are Lunar or Martial, of Jupiterian justice or Dionysian liberty or whatever the God it was whose realm his soul came from.
III. The Nature of the Gods
One of the main differences between Paganism and Monotheism is less the number of the Gods, but the role of the Divine. I here can only highly recommend the book of Alain de Benoist “On Being A Pagan”, since it highlights the difference between a Pagan Spirituality and the Christian Spirituality. In Christianity like in all the three monotheist book religions, God is an alien to Creation, an outsider and basically a being devoid of character. He does not partake in the creation, and creation has a beginning and ending. In Paganism the cosmos is endless, it did not start and never ends, although there are large cycles, they are like the seasons the return of the ever same eternal patterns. The Gods are part of the Cosmos, and as such the cosmos or the world reflect the Divine Beings. I personally found it a grave error how Neoplatonism developed into a dualistic, world denouncing ideology in its late phase, branding the mundus as something fallen. It may be under the pressure of Christianity or not, but it is a view on the world I most fundamentally disagree with even to the point of regarding it as dangerous. The world is sanctified by the presence of the Gods, of Divine Beings and Spirits, the spiritual world and the material world are interwoven, not like a duality of good and evil. Similarly I do not share the view of a One God, as it was implied in Neoplatonism. Polytheism and Paganism celebrate the Diversity of the Cosmos, or to take a phrase from the Vulcan Philosophy: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. That is why a plurality of Gods is the superior religious idea, because it truly reflects the facts of life, it is wholesome exactly because we have a great number of Gods. Especially as Romans the number of Gods really is quite large, even though we have the Dodekatheon (Twelve Gods) as the core of our Religion, we Romans were truly never short of Gods and Goddesses of every detail of the cosmos. It is this diverse plurality which is our strength, and I regard the notion to declare all Gods as mere variants of one God as un-Pagan and contrary to our spirituality. We have the Plurality of the Living Gods and we rejoice in that. There is no need to artificially declare them one, and there would be nothing gained by doing so.
But that does not mean the Gods are Chaos, for Jupiter (Zeus) is the Logos, the guiding principle of order in the Cosmos. Gods are at the same time principles and beings or personalities. It is right that Plato viewed the Gods as eternal principles, but there lies the danger of hollowing out their personality, which would lead us away from living spirituality and would invoke the danger of having a coagulated religion, which only has form but no living content. I am characterizing the Gods by seven qualities:
1. The Gods are Eternal (like the Cosmos too). The word “immortal” is misplaced, since that suggests a duality with mortality, the Gods are Eternal, they exist forever, since the principles they are the embodiment of, are unchanging and forever.
2. The Gods are Unchanging. Like the principles which they embody never change, so is the Nature of the Gods. They may adapt to the time in the way they present themselves to us, react to our needs, the situations of our cultures and our technological level, but the Gods remain unchanging in their essence.
3. The Gods are Perfect in themselves and with each other. Each God is a perfectly balanced and harmonic being without inner conflict and contradictions, and so are the Gods as a whole. Any conflict we perceive is decided as a necessary act furthering our development.
4. The Gods are Unlimited. It was during the Era of King Numa that the Romans had no images of the Gods, because they believed depicting the Unlimited Gods in limited images would disgrace them. We learned it is ok with them, but it remains a mere Face they chose to show us. Since they are Unlimited and we are limited, we can never fully comprehend a God, but we have reason to believe they nurture or share some human characteristics insofar as to guide us properly.
5. The Gods are Arbiters of all the World there are. Plato already presumed there are many other worlds and realities, and the Gods are stewards of all of them. In what ways and under what names and faces the Gods administer these other worlds, we do not know.
6. The Gods are only a source of Good. The Gods want our prosperity, the various cultures of our world as well as of humanity as a whole. They are the Gods of Civilization. They want us to rise, to prosper and rise spiritually and ethically.
7. The Gods are an unlimited Source of Abundance. The Gods have no need, no necessity, and take our offerings and sacrifices as gesture of our love and dedication. But the Gods are unending abundant and have as such no needs from our side.
We can tell that the Gods are interested in individuals as well as collectives. Though their motivations in these are different. A Seer or Priest may be able to attain a contact with a God or a Daimon send by a God, and often that is for the purpose of developing a certain individual. What greater goals the Gods seeks by doing so, is often hard to tell. The Gods plan in the long run, and so any piece moved today may contribute to events decades or centuries ahead. But I also assume from my personal experience that Gods are social not unlike humans in that sense that they enjoy exchange, and while they mostly prefer to be in exchange with each other and the Daimons serving them, both history and experience tell us, that time and again individual Gods find the connection with some human beings interesting in itself.
The connection of Gods and Men as collectives is defined by the DO UT DES, I Give So You Give. The Gods do not force themselves upon us. They tend in fact more to make themselves scares and rather want to see effort from our side. When we disregard the Gods as a culture, the Gods focus to play in the background and move a piece here and a piece there, ever to test us, and – when we put ourselves unto a dark road, they give us signs and omens, send us enlightened people or madmen, to show us the danger we put ourselves in. The Gods work mainly through opening our Understanding, but we must accept the perspective given to us by them. If we reject them, they focus on other people and other developments. Or they may just wait how we play with the cards given and intervene at any future time of their choosing.
The orderly form of the relation between Gods and Men is the Cultus, the organized religion, which serves a culture, a society, a civilization to prosper and to develop under the guidance of the of Gods. Such a religion must retain a balance between the liberty of the individual and its desire to find connection to the Divine in a personal manner, in form of individual spirituality, and the need of the social collective to have similar norms and experiences through the religious practices.
IV. The Human Soul
Socrates has spoken at length why he assumes the Human Soul to be immortal, and the largest writing is in Plato's “Phaidon” (not to mistake with “Phaidros). Like the vast majority of all religious and spiritual teachings, I too take the Human Soul as immortal. The soul of all beings comes from the realm if Ideas, and so essentially comes from the Divine itself, and since the Divine is the Unchanging, in contrast to the changing world (mundus), the souls of all beings are immortal, including the souls of Plants and Animals. Nothing that is ever truly vanishes. Like Plato wrote in “Phaidros – On Beauty”, I regard the Human Souls were once in the entourage of the Gods, each Soul of a different God, but since our souls are not perfectly balanced like that of the Gods, our Soul Chariot is difficult to handle, difficult to remain in the High Planes of the Divine, and so some sank down. Now since we assume the Gods benevolent and since nothing develops that is not the will of the Gods, I do not see that as a punishment or a fall, but rather a great plan, of which we are part. Life is a test, a plane where were are taught things we need to learn, but we are also teachers, we are also the Divine Spark send down to Matter to elevate the material world. We are the “falling Angels touching the rising animal”, to use this phrase. Our Souls came from the Divine to elevate the “dead matter”. Insofar I even assume it is implied in the will of the Gods, that we spread Life and Civilization beyond Earth into the universe, to one day populate other planets with the lifeforms of our world and spread Light and Life by developing technology that enables us to true space-travel. Some may find that a stretch, and most Pagans are not used to think of technology as connected to the Gods. But I beg to differ. We have Minerva the Goddess of intelligence and invention, Mercurius and Vulcan, and many Gods who stand for technological progress. But beyond that, our Souls descended from the Heavens to spread the Light into the darkness of the material universe, both by bettering life on this planet, but also by extending life beyond this planet.
Since the Gods are a Plurality, and each soul was in the company of another God, so the Gods desire a true diversity of Cultures, so they are the creators of the tribes and groups of people forming societies and collectives based on similar natures, and so the memory of the human soul determines its character and to what any human being is drawn to. So one from the company of Mars may be more warlike, while those from the entourage of Minerva are scientific, those from Vulcan love to craft and are practical, those coming from the realm of Apollo are lovers of the Solar principle, seeking harmony and the arts, and so forth.
I am personally quite fond of the story of the Dual Soul of Humanity, which is related in Plato's “Symposium”. There it is said that humans originally were the unity of two beings, but since the Gods assumed them to become too powerful – or if you read it different, a too perfect being has no room to seek development, humans were split. Now some of these Dual Souls were two men, some where two women, and others were a man and a woman, and so each seeks that Gender in love to which he was connected. I find this a very endearing idea and it shows how deeply the Classic Thinkers respected love and romance, the great gifts of Cupid (Eros), one of the most primordial Gods.
The aim of the human soul is as such the return to the Divine Realm from whence it came. Whether this is a sort of “salvation” or an endless cycle, is up to everyone to decide. I assume it is the former for some, and the latter for others, as the individual character may be. Some may desire to forever return to the Divine Realm at the side of the Gods and leave the tribulations of the mundus behind, other may prefer a rest among the heavens only to forever return. It is clear that in this view, life is vast series of reincarnation, and that I reject the idea of merely one life. Just Gods and one life is not really a compatible idea, so reincarnation is essentially a compelling logic deduction. The Soul rises up first to the in-between realm of the Daimons and then to the Divine Home. This is achieved gradually by Spiritual Growth, by heeding the Religious Practices and by leading a Good Life of Ethicality. These three are necessarily connected and can not be separated. The spiritual growth is achieved in many ways, meditation, inner working, personal rituals asf. But it must be reconnected to the Religious practices of your culture or your choice, for otherwise it would be selfish and be at the risk of losing the grounding. Finally, there can be no true spiritual development, if you you do neglect your duties in the world. Growing beyond the chaos of the world does not relieve you of the duties you have as citizen of the world, so you need to cultivate your life, better life around you and contribute to help others. Spirituality is the harmonization of the conflicting, imbalanced forces, inside of you and in the world.
The personal spirituality is often taught in the various Mystery Schools, each focusing on a different pathway to teach people. There exist basically three greater Pagan Mysteries, the Mystery of the Earth Mother, the Mystery of the Sun and the Mystery of the Moon. The Solar is the male mystery, the Lunar the female Mystery and these two paths I regard as the most important pathways to develop spirituality, each with their own strengths and shortcomings. While the Earth Cults are noble and powerful, they are not as open to us anymore as to the people in the past, as a modern city dweller with the high tech comforts of the 21st century has a very difficult time to really connect to the agricultural reality of people of the past. And there are of course many other concepts for Mystery Cults, but I shall write about these in detail in a Lesson in the future.
Human Nature as it is, is made up of three different parts: Reason, Emotion and Will. If you think of a Chariot, Reason and Emotion are like two horses, each potentially pulling in different directions, and it is the task of the Will to command these two in harmony. Consequentially we have two different sets of Ethics, one system of ethics stems from Reason, that is the method of Logic and it applies to look mainly for the results of what we do. The other set of ethics is rooted in our Emotion through the way of Empathy, and it looks mainly on the well-being of others. One may say Emotion is the individual Chaos, for we all feel different, while Reason is Order, since through Logic we all can come to relatable systems of action. Through reason we create a social order in which the collective can live, but through our Emotions we are individual, diverse and different. The will has to organize this Chaos and Order into a Balance, taming both elements and enabling harmonic movement ahead, both for the individual as well as our society.
V. The Concept of Evil
Evil is actually not a Pagan term. Evil insinuates something that is in itself contrary to Good, like something that opposes what is good as an aim in itself, and that is not what we can observe. What we can observe in the world is
a) A Will that serves itself, and whose trajectory is harming to us
b) A Will that is ignorant and intellectually “in the dark”
c) A Will that is indeed malevolent, but then it is essentially “mentally sick”
It is both expressed by Plato and Aristotle, that all beings aim for a Good, and therefore it is clear to say that Good is what all beings aim for, and I share this view. Now the first case is quite easy, when two people aim for a Good, but these are in contradiction. Like there is a shortage of any good, and several people want it, then there is a conflict. That is what we perceive as “evil”, but it is only relative. Second, we have people who act harmful, often without having any true benefit, because they do not understand the matter. That is the evil caused by people being ignorant, either being ignorant as such, or being misled and manipulated by others for their own profit. In that case we have actually again case (a) a conflict of trajectories, only that others are made the tool of a few. Finally there is destructive malevolence born out of a psychological damage. Now it may be that in cases such a damage of the psyche can not be healed, or is of such a grand scale, that we will forfeit compassion, like in the case of a historic mass murderer, whose actions killed millions. Nonetheless, we have a deformation of the soul here, and I think the loaded term “Evil” must be used with great care. There is no “evil” in same sense Pagan Philosophy, as it is in the Christian or Monotheist religions.
However, there are of course Destructive Forces, forces and beings who oppose the ordering and light force of the Logos, Jupiter and thus the benevolent guidance of the Gods. These are dark entities of which I shall not speak here in detail, safe to say, such destructive entities do exist, and even though they have no chance to overthrow the Cosmic Order, we are tested by them, challenged by them, and so we must remain vigilant and alert. They appear inside of us just as much as in the world, so the struggle is both external and internal. It can actually be quiet risky to see the evil forces too much only in the outside, and all too quickly you are overtaken by the inner “dark demons” of yourself. Destructive Forces are spreading “Miasma”, a negative energy, which religious work can and must remove. That is why the idea of “cleaning” is such an important concept in all religions and systems of spirituality. It is a very complex topic, and I just wanted to mention that there actually are destructive forces in the cosmos, who aim to taint our spirituality, drag us down in devolution to fall, so we must be alert and on our guard. But, since it is a complex topic, I forward you to the Lessons I wrote about it:
Lesson 8: Daimon, Spirits, Miasma
Lesson 10: The Role of Evil in Paganism
Gods of Madness – The Danger of the Logo-Centric Western Culture
VI. Demarcation against the Other Schools of Thought
No School of Thought or Philosophy can exist without setting a sort of demarcation against the other Schools. Now I highly suggest that each student of Philosophy broadens his horizon, and especially the Classic Authors should be read thoroughly, above all Plutarch, Cicero and Plato. This final writing will show where the Schola Aetii differs from the other Philosophies and how far it refers to them.
I shall not go into great detail on Epicurus. Both Cicero and Plutarch have written at length why the Epicurean Philosophy is a dead end. In the essence the Epicurean philosophy leads to an apathetic hedonism, an avoidance of difficulties, and as such it robs people of spiritual growth. Life focused on avoiding pain as the main motivation would end in a nihilist stagnation and devoids life of value and ethos. It is a thinly veiled atheism to justify laziness, cowardice and apathy. I shall not spent more time on refuting it, since Plutarch and Cicero have done so well enough.
Plato is probably the Philosopher from which I drew the most, but there is enough I disagree with that prevents me from calling myself a Platonist by any stretch of the word. One thing that has become clear to me, especially when I see the roots of the system in Socrates, that Platonism is much more a spiritual revelation, or at least has it as its core. That is a view the classic philosophers denied or did not want to see, but if you really follow the arguments of Socrates, than it becomes quite clear how far his basic concepts are derived from spiritual introspection, or “his Daimon” as he sometimes refers to it. The entire concept of “ideas” and “true ideas” being understood through thinking is highly problematic if not misleading, if we understand it in the logo-centric way of modern thought, like reasoning about a topic. That “true idea” of something which Socrates introduced, is not an idea we can entirely grasp through logical thinking. It is something we more “feel” intuitively by long trained and experienced spiritual introspection. As such it has truth first and foremost “for me” as individual, and since this is so, I just cannot follow Plato in the idea to base an entire society, like his “Republic”, merely on the spiritual introspection of one man, even be it Plato or Socrates himself. In the writings of Plato lurks always the danger of what I call Logo-Centrism of the West, to take the word for the thing, to assume that only because a word exists, it must mean something. (See my writing: Gods of Madness – The Danger of the Logo-Centric Western Culture.)
The problem is that what Plato or Socrates “see” in the introspection as “true Justice” or “true virtue” may not be the same what others see, when they introspect, and while sure True Ideas exist, since the Gods for example are truly Good, we cannot entirely fathom the Gods and neither the True Ideas. They remain largely outside the logical understanding and we can only partially grasp them. That does not mean the knowledge of the True Ideas remain agnostically hidden forever, but we can only circle around them, understand some part at a time.
I am most emphatically against the world denial that Neoplatonism has heralded, as I have written here before. I regard that dualism of emphasizing a split of Spirit and World as something deeply un- or even Anti-Pagan in nature. Whether it was under the influence of Christianity or a love for oriental dualism I do not know. I see the world as sanctified by the Gods and Spirits, the world as an arena were we learn and teach, and ultimately learn to grow, I see the mundus as a reflection of the divine, and this Neoplatonist contempt of the material world is something I profoundly reject.
I hold Aristotle personally in the highest regard of the Classic Hellenic Philosophers, even though I personally have not much in common with his thinking. But he founded the scientific method, the method of logic, and despite all my critique of making Logic a sort of tyrannical overlord, I value Logic as a servant that guides us under our will. The teachings of Aristotle have made the Western Culture more unique and different than probably any other individual thinker. But there is a dark side in Aristotle as well, where he basically justifies the status quo of society and has little to no desire for progress – unlike Plato. I laud his works on logic, and reason is a much needed skill, but we should not cut the human mind in half. We are also beings of desires, of feeling, and sometimes we desire to experience excess to learn of our limits. All in Good Measure is a great guide of virtue, and it comes from no less than my beloved Lord Apollo. But we are Polytheists and so we listen to the advise of all the Gods and their various points of view. An unchained reason can become a terror, a nightmare, where all ends in mediocrity and the cold calculative reign of reason, and that has become a main problem of the Modern Society at some point. Human beings desire more than orderly reason, they seek to reach for the stars, to challenge themselves and go beyond the safe and well-proven pathways of reason and logic.
The Stoa is without a doubt a noble Philosophy I hold in high personal regard, but it seems to me more a Philosophy which reacts to a crisis than a good guide to life in general. Let me explain. One source of Stoic writing comes from none other than Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his book “Meditations”. But I always had a hard time to read it. It breathes such a depressive world weariness in many parts, that I wonder how the personal life of the Emperor justifies such a negative view on life. Sure, you can take the view that in the millennia of cosmic time, your life and action do not matter, But that is not a really helpful thing to deal with the reality of suffering. If one suffers greatly, what comfort is it to say, in the face of million of years your suffering is meaningless? That is not a helpful advise of a Philosopher! We take on responsibility, we act in life as if it matters, we take things on our shoulders and create things, accomplish things, both to better our lives and the lives of others, as good as we can. That seems much more helpful than this mental retreat which Marcus Aurelius often seems to preach.
The other great author is Seneca, and I found reading Seneca very worthwhile, mostly because he is a practical man, and I value the Stoa as such: a practical guide, though I do not see it so much as a true Philosophy, since most of the more philosophical paradigms of it seem quite absurd, like the notion of Zenon, that change is an illusion and nothing ever truly changes. The best part of the Stoa are truly the advisory texts of Seneca. Seneca is plaster put on a wound of the soul. It helps the soul to heal, when you are hurt. But getting accustomed to walk with plasters and crutches makes you weak. To be Pagan and to be a Roman means to be heroic and dutiful. Duty is your duty as citizens, as Cultor of the Living Gods, and person to your friends. Such duties must not be avoided by detaching yourself from the world out of a sense of world-weariness. Inner Calm is a great thing to achieve, a necessity if we want to judge fair and make good decisions. That is why Meditation is important. We root our mind in the deep spiritual levels, we achieve a calm that allows us to act. But the Stoa can lead one to refrain from acting, to fall into a sort of apathy, and that is not how either a Pagan or a Roman should be. All Pagan Religions emphasized the Heroic Soul, the human soul that is daring, courageous and seeks to expand his horizon. Passive comfort only make sense as a balanced complement to activity and action.
To Christianity entire libraries of critique have been written, and again I highlight Alain de Benoist's work “On Being A Pagan” for some of the spiritual and philosophical differences. Many of the most fundamental assumptions of Monotheism are not just different, but actually entirely opposed to the spiritual and philosophical views of Paganism and Polytheism, which is why I am quite sharply against any aspiration to “connect” them. Whether in personal life or as a system I regard that as a misguided effort, one I can sympathize with on a personal level, but one that ultimately means you are lying to yourself.
Monotheism is based on the idea that the world is created, has a beginning, and ending and an eschatological aim, so the entire history “in between” is just an interlude of little relevancy, when the “true life” begins after Armageddon. God of Monotheism is the alien, the outsider, while our Gods sanctify the world by their presence IN IT. There is no sin and hence no need for a salvation, and especially in reference to Christianity, the idea that someone ELSE suffers to absolve you from your sins is for a Pagan deeply immoral. You may read for further details my Lesson 7: Paganism VS Monotheism.
Now of course Christianity has elements which are similar to Paganism, largely because it had usurped the role of Paganism in Europe, so it took vast elements of Pagan religiosity into it. But there are some very fundamental differences in the view of the world, which are simply mutually exclusive. But with so much written on that topic, I will here be content with this summary of my view on that matter.
This overview outlines the basic ideas of my Philosophy. Now let me clarify finally about one thing. While my Philosophy, the Schola Aetii, has the same name as the Organization which trains Priests and Cultors, that means I do teach from this point of view, but I do not demand the students or Cultors do need to share these views. The Courses in the Schola Aetii for Ritual and Priesthood are aimed to enable the Cultor to perform the Rituals according to Tradition, to reform them with care where he seems it necessary in a way to still remain compatible with the other Roman Cultors. Still, questions such as these I tried to answer here, were raised time and again, and will likely be asked in the future. For reasons explained in the beginning, I felt the necessity to also create my entirely independent School of Philosophy. This text outlines it. Further new Lectures shall be written to go into more details to topics of general interest or relevancy.
First Day of Saturnalia 2771
Gaius Florius Aetius
Pontifex et Ariolus Apollon