By Vexen Crabtree 2002
This page is about the search for happiness and the search for truth. Doubt should be held as the highest intellectual value, otherwise the search for truth and the search for happiness both fail. Firstly, doubt is required as part of the search for truth. In addition, without doubt, any search for truth can compromise happiness. I conclude that doubt and curiosity should be encouraged from childhood and in adulthood in order to allow more powerful searches for truth and to prevent such searches from compromising happiness.
There is a prominent line of thought that in order to govern properly, you must go down the path that leads to the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. This is called the "greatest happiness principle"1. From small groups of friends to the setting of national policy, this rule of thumb seems the most natural guideline to follow. But there are serious problems, easily acknowledged when thinking about this as a method of governance. Spending freely makes people happy, but only for so long: the resultant economic crash will also make many people unhappy. Promising that God will soon come to rule the Earth may fill believers with zeal, but, after a few generations, the promise is a cause of embarrassment. The skeptical misanthrope Anton LaVey, with disdain for the poor quality short-term choices that people make in the name of happiness, states "a comfortable falsehood will always win out over an uncomfortable truth"2: But it is more to the truth to admit that all of us make some decisions in the name of short-term happiness, and some decisions in the name of strategy and wisdom, even if it means forgoing some immediate pleasure. Many people would admit the observations of psychologist William James and philosopher Immanuel Kant:
“What immediately feels most "good" is not always most "true".”
“Unfortunately, the notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and wills. [...] We cannot therefore act on any definite principles to secure happiness.”
"Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals" by Immanuel Kant (1785)4
The search for long-term policies that create the most amount of happiness is full of arbitrary lines: how much of a population's unhealthy habits do you tolerate in order to keep them happy in the short term? Is it right to demolish and undermine someone's belief system, by providing them with sound arguments and evidence against it, if it causes them unhappiness?
Ancient philosophers often engaged in these very debates just as modern ones do, and amongst both groups there is almost universal denial that happiness alone is an absolute good. Even one of the philosophers whom many would assume to be found declaring so, John Stuart Mill, actually argues against happiness being an absolute value. His philosophy of Utilitarianism contained a very well developed sense of morality and public good and is most well-known for arguing that "the multiplication of happiness is, according to the utilitarian ethics, the object of virtue"5. He argues that people, and beings, that are capable grasping the "higher faculties" of thought react with horror at the thought of stepping down into a mode of life that was less enlightened, even if it would make them happier:
“Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast's pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs. [...] If they ever fancy they would, it is only in cases of unhappiness so extreme, that to escape from it they would exchange their lot for almost any other, however undesirable in their own eyes. A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering [...] than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence.”
"Utilitarianism" by John Stuart Mill (1879)6
It is hard to deny the human truths which John Stuart Mill has brought out into the open. It is clear that some elements of self-identity - our core sense of ourselves as developed higher beings - are simply more important to us than happiness. So, we might bitterly cling to a religion that makes us unhappy and causes us conflict with our neighbours, or, we might sadly move on from a cherished religion because we have discovered its 'truths' to be untenable in the face of scientific evidence. We do not make such choices based on a cost-benefit analysis of our eventual happiness. We make these choices because we value truth more than happiness. Or, at least, many people value truth more than happiness. It is of course the case that many are simply content to be content (and to hell with the truth and other abstract problems!). John Stuart Mill, other enlightened folk and elitists might call them lesser humans, but the fact remains that they exist in enough numbers that it makes it difficult for statisticians to study the correlations between happiness and religion at the national level.
When the truth is dangerous, is it more worthwhile to hide the truth? If ignorance is bliss, and those of Orwell's 1984 are truly happy, how is it that we think truth should be revealed even when it makes people unhappy? Truth isn't inherent in happiness and vica versa: Who is better, they who promote truth over happiness, or happiness over truth? In society, in general, I would say that philosophers, mystics, materialists and freethinkers have pursued truth despite the danger to happiness, and the masses nearly always (sometimes ignorantly) pursued happiness whether or not they are also pursuing truth. The adoption of doubt as a central tenet causes the above questions to become mute, as will be shown.
“Satan represents the instinct that drives the truth-searcher to continually find faults in perceived truths.”
There is something lacking in those for whom the truth is dangerous, or a threat. In order for truth to be revealed, the ground must be paved. People must learn to doubt their own truths... with doubt, I conclude in this text, comes an ability to be happy despite the times when the facts of life threaten your outlook.
Nietzsche's students: nihilism, Satanism and materialism, are all very self-conscious about the search for truth in taboo places, but of these only the latter two state that nothing else besides materialism is required for happiness (and in this I include psychological matters, not even materialists believe that money alone makes people happy). But of all the groups, and all the people, none have found a formula for happiness, even Buddha's teachings are only workable by some, not all. Given that happiness is so subjective in nature, can any truth or system ever produce a formula for a happy life or a happy society?
We have seekers for truth through logic (materialism, metaphysical naturalism), through experience and alternative states of mind (mysticism, religion), seekers for happiness through materialism, seekers for happiness through truth, and finders of happiness through the most random of methods, but hardly ever through the search for truth.
I think the search for truth, and for happiness, are both reconciled in finding personal reasons to live, and this is in general the formula.
Colin Wilson's ""The Outsider" by Colin Wilson (1956)" concludes that those who are made unhappy through the search for truth are reconciled with happiness through peak experiences, random moments of happiness to which they hold on to and keep in their minds, and therefore that those who are naturally happy, such as me, are those who generate peak experiences. For me, these can include random solitary walks through London, computer games, online debates, creating web pages... these things also are what I consider to be some of the best reasons for my life, simple as they are. Love, also, with its eternal internal glow once it is known even if it is now gone, is a peak experience for me. These reasons for life are simple materialistic things. I am made happy by these because, intellectually, I have accepted that doubt encircles all of beliefs, and truth does not threaten them, but changes them.
For those whose peak experiences are very internal matters (such as walks through London, or meditation, or personal solitary events) which are not really communicable to other people, we call them mystics, for those who have external points of life such as sport, socializing, money... we call them life lovers. According to my Satanic Types, the former may be a Satanic Evangelist and the latter an Infernal. Those whose search for happiness is a search for truth we call scientists or philosophers... although admittedly, the former category is broad enough to include people who merely happen to be employed in science.
Satan is said by some Satanists to represent their loves in life, their hobbies: the internal things that make them happy. For one person, a stable job is Satanic. For another, physical fitness is the most Satanic thing; for another intellectualism is more Satanic than finance or fitness. All agree that failure is unsatanic... so Satan represents the points of life for Satanists. Anton LaVey comments on this and says that if collecting trains is a Satanists' thing, then that is his religious rosary and that is Satan's Will.
When a Christian reads the Christian Bible, very frequently they find that it tells them what they want it to say. So, a person who supports slavery finds that it supports slavery, a misogynist finds that it relegates women to an inferior position to men, a homophobe finds that, thank his God, his homophobia is officially sanctioned by God in the Bible. But those who wish to free slaves also find in the Bible text that supports their view! Likewise, those Christians who yearn for a parent figure can find that figure in Jesus Christ. Those who want to be understood and loved can feel, to such an extent that they actually experience it, that God, Allah or Jesus actually does love them. A person who believes in UFOs will look at the world and see that, indeed, there have been UFO abductions! This is because our experiences in life are informed by our beliefs and the things we expect to be true... in our search for happiness, that which supports our life will make us happy.
In this shallow way, Satan represents the fact that the Gods and beliefs we accept are self generated world views, our gods are self generated in our own image, according to our own needs. Satan represents God made manifest within our very bodies, as a result of our own imagination: As such, by accepting doubt that any of the things we intellectually cherish are true, we are defended against the possibility that truth threatens our happiness.
Which leads us to how we deal with truth that threatens our world views. All religious adherents will state that they accept all truth... this is because they believe that their own beliefs are true. So, a Satanist says "I accept truth...", and accepts that Gods are made by mankind, but doesn't accept that God is real... and Christians say "We search for truth"... but will not believe an atheist who says there is no God! Both are, in reality, not entirely involved in their search for truth because the search for happiness has overridden their desire.
As a result, we can see that those who find happiness in truth may be the most misguided people, and those who are made unhappy by the truth may well be on to something new... whether it is true or not, we know that at least they have not merely sought happiness when they've sought the truth! Of the mystics and religious figures in history, those who endure torment in their lives as a result of their beliefs (not as a result of the social rejection of their views, that is a different matter) are more trustworthy.
So, of the nihilists: those who find that life is meaningless, nothing is permanent, of the Buddhists who find that happiness gets in the way of truth and of the scientist who holds that no theory is sacred or ultimately unquestionable... these are the truer doctrines. Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols" by Friedrich Nietzsche (1888) is an eloquent destruction of many cultural truths which leaves the author in a state of panic: For what, after all has fallen, should I believe in? Satan represents the instinct that drives the truth-searcher to continually find faults in perceived truths. Satan here, is fulfilling his traditional Christian role as an accuser... person by person, Satan can summon the most potent doubts and cast down fallacy through nihilism and scepticism.
Satan represents Doubt. God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Allah did not want his creation to doubt his word. In both theologies, it was Satan, the most intelligent created being, who stood up against this enforced ignorance. Satan tells mankind: Search for knowledge, even in taboo places. Shaitan told the Djinn: Let us test God's word, let us not mindlessly believe all that God says. Although these myths are irrelevant to the modern world, the role of Satan is very much relevant to our lives and our search for knowledge. Enlightenment is the ability to look past stated truth and dogma, and Lucifer is the Crown Prince of Satan that represents our search for enlightenment.”
“Without the wonderful element of doubt, the doorway through which truth passes would be tightly shut. [...] Now is the time for doubt! The bubble of falsehood is bursting and its sound is the roar of the world!”
And who, after such dangerous truths are revealed: the truths that destroy people's internal fantasies, is left happy? In this search for truth, only those who are naturally happy and have points of life remain happy... those who rely on "absolute truth" and "dogma" for truth are made unhappy as new truth is revealed... those who revel in ignorance are threatened by truth, those who reject doubt as the ultimate truth value: they are living dangerously.
A closed minded Satanist would be threatened if God came down to Earth and proved to all that it existed. But Satanists should not be closed minded. The true Satanists, always aware, would then realize that their internal Satan was actually the will of this God... and as such they would change their beliefs. They would still be a Satanist... but a Satanist, who searches for truth and power, is not hindered by truth! The danger in rejection of doubt is that you end up searching for happiness by searching only for truth that supports what you already believe. You are destined to live a life bordered by cliff-faces of unhappy revelations.
Those points of life, the things that make us happy, from hobbies to intellectual and physical pursuits are Satan's secret pacts with us. The simple, materialistic or internal mystical peak experiences which we enjoy, these are the points of life. Only through the ability to doubt all truth is this happiness through simplicity made possible. This is the power of the Devil, and it is far from a bane: It is a blessing that allows our search for truth to continue unhindered by ignorance. Stupidity is failure to doubt, to therefore be made unhappy by truth, and failure to enjoy life. The search for happiness, and the search for truth, are both facilitated by an internal muse called Satan, whose Infernal teachings cleanse our minds from attachment to false happiness-saviours.
Let us now answer the questions asked in the first paragraph...
When the truth is dangerous, is it more worthwhile to hide the truth? If ignorance is bliss, and those of Orwell's 1984 are truly happy, how is it that we think truth should be revealed even when they make people unhappy? Truth isn't inherent in happiness and vica versa: Who is better, they who promote truth over happiness, or happiness over truth? [...] The adoption of doubt as a central tenet causes the above questions to become mute.
Widespread acceptance of doubt makes truth not dangerous. Orwell's dystopia cannot occur if the populace continually doubt what they are told, and people cannot be happy if they know that what they believe appears to be dubious: ignorance cannot lead to bliss if doubt reigns. Neither is truth dangerous if >previous truths are continually questioned, such as in science. So who is better, they who promote truth, or happiness? Well those who promote doubt enlighten the path for both... so those who promote a particular truth, unless they also promote doubt, they are not doing good, because future truth then causes instability. Those who promote happiness, if they accidentally promote ignorance... they are also not doing good because truth then causes unhappiness. Only with an underlying theme of doubt can stable happiness be found.
Current edition: 2002 Dec 24
Last Modified: 2014 Sep 01
Parent page: The Description, Philosophies and Justification of Satanism
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
(2014) "Happiness and Religion: Does Belief Make You Happy Or Does Unhappiness Make You Believe?" (2014). Accessed 2017 Aug 01.
James, William. (1842-1910)
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Kant, Immanuel. (1724-1804) German philosopher.
(1785) Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. E-book. Amazon Kindle digital edition prepared by David J. Cole prepared by Matthew Stapleton. Translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (1829-1913).
LaVey, Anton. (1930-1997) Founder of the Church of Satan.
(1969) The Satanic Bible. Paperback book. Published by Avon Books Inc, New York, USA. Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966..
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Mill, John Stuart. (1806-1873)
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(1956) The Outsider. Paperback book. Reissued 2001. Published by Orion Books Ltd.