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For some time I have been asking myself how best I can further the topic of the study of Agrippa, and the conclusion that I came to was to clarify the relationship between Agrippa's Occult Philosophy and the Philosophy of Aristotle. It is simply not possible to get a good understanding of Agrippa without an appreciation of Aristotle, in particular his doctrine of the “Four Causes”. Other aspects of Aristotelian thinking are important also, but it starts with these “Four Causes”.

 

In the modern world the basic tendency is a viewpoint created in the Seventeenth Century in which the basic categories are mind and matter and objective and subjective. If you watch the discussions here on the Tao Bums and elsewhere you will see these terms bandied about with little attempt to understand them, but with a great deal argued from them. I will deal with them and their effects on the Modern Mentality in a series on Agrippa and the Scientific Revolution, but for now the most important thing is to understand what those Revolutionaries found so revolting about the worldview Circa 1500 and what about it may have been worth preserving or reviving as part of our understanding of Traditional Magic and its application to modern magic.

 

This is the beginning of the Wikipedia article on the Four Causes:

 

 

"Four causes" refers to an influential principle in Aristotelian thought whereby causes of change or movement are categorized into four fundamental types of answer to the question "why?". Aristotle wrote that "we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause." While there are cases where identifying a cause is difficult, or in which causes might merge, Aristotle was convinced that his four causes provided an analytical scheme of general applicability.

Aristotle held that there were four kinds of causes:

  • A change or movement's material cause is the aspect of the change or movement which is determined by the material which the moving or changing things are made of. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.

  • A change or movement's formal cause is a change or movement caused by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in general, is the cause of the octave.

  • A change or movement's efficient or moving cause consists of things apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be an agency of the change or movement. For example, the efficient cause of a table is a carpenter, or a person working as one, and according to Aristotle the efficient cause of a boy is a father.

  • An event's final cause is the end toward which it directs. That for the sake of which a thing is what it is. For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom.

 

The further discussion in the article is also worthwhile.

 

This is a fair first step, but in order to understand its application to Agrippa and to other aspects of the Occult Philosophy of his age we will have to dig deeper. That is the intent of this thread and I will examine all of these in more detail and their relationship to other aspects of Aristotle's thinking and then their applicablity to understanding how and why Agrippa thought magic and by extension alchemy and other “esoteric” arts should be practiced.

 

As I develop this thread I will expand on the above, examine them for their applicability to understanding Agrippa, how to understand modern magic in these terms, why they are relevant to an understanding of modern science and how they can reconcile science and magic, and extend magical theory and practice.

 

Questions and comments are welcome and I will answer them according to relevance and as time permits, in some cases putting an answer off until more groundwork has been laid, even to the extent of answering it in another thread, such as the one I am thinking about the Scientific Revolution.

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The final cause reads rather like a result.

 

But I am sitting expectantly awaiting your next post.

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The final cause reads rather like a result.

 

Actually, there are some subtilities. Aristotle makes a distinction between internal and external final causes.

The external one, is exterior to the thing: for example, the decoration of the temple is the final cause of a statue.

The interior one, is the thing itself: for eg, playing or dancing can be done only for themselves.

Thus the idea of a result is more appropriate for the external final cause, less for the internal one.

 

I was just stopping by, sorry for any inconvenience.

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The final cause reads rather like a result.

 

But I am sitting expectantly awaiting your next post.

 

The final cause can be seen as a cause that acts backwards in time from the future. A concept from Chaos Theory called "Great Attractor" comes to mind.

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Thank you all for your interest and responses.

The final cause reads rather like a result.

But I am sitting expectantly awaiting your next post.


If by result you mean the result aimed for or hoped for then yes, it is a result, as bubbles has aptly pointed out here:

Actually, there are some subtilities. Aristotle makes a distinction between internal and external final causes.
The external one, is exterior to the thing: for example, the decoration of the temple is the final cause of a statue.
The interior one, is the thing itself: for eg, playing or dancing can be done only for themselves.
Thus the idea of a result is more appropriate for the external final cause, less for the internal one.

I was just stopping by, sorry for any inconvenience.


The final cause of a statue may be as a decoration in a temple. Its formal cause may be that of a conventional "form" of a deity, which is of course the "formal cause". The sculptor, no matter how inefficient he is, is the efficient cause, because he is the "maker", the root is from the Latin facere, to make.

The final cause can be seen as a cause that acts backwards in time from the future. A concept from Chaos Theory called "Great Attractor" comes to mind.


Good observation there, this is where these ideas start to become useful to magic. Long before there was Chaos Theory, there was Order Theory and in Order Theory, the "attractor", great, strange or whatever was called the Telos, the which is an Anglicization of the Greek word rendered as "Final".

Read about it here on Wikipedia

In Traditional Magic it is the Formal and Final causes that are most important, in what I call neo-magic, the are completely ignored and the magician is viewed as the efficient cause through his/her will power and imagination. These differences in theory strongly affect how Magicians practice magic, so they are not trivial, but very important and in my experience have a strong practical effect. It should also be noted that Traditional Magic does not ignore the magician as an efficient cause, but develops that and even extends the possibilities by developing the formal causes in the magician, the most famous example of which is in the famous Macrocosm/Microcosm doctrine.

Since formal and final causes where important not merely to what are now "esoteric" disciplines, like magic and alchemy, but were the whole basis of Hellenistic and Medieval Natural Philosophy and thus of ancient physics, it is not correct to limit Traditional Magic to the purely phsychological interpretations that are given in neo-magic. This is part the reason why I have characterized Traditional Magic as Platonic physics and Agrippa's Three Books on Occult Philosophy as a textbook of Platonic engineering and part of the reason form my "inversion" of the usual perspective here:

 

Actually, strange as it may seem, magic is the proof of science.

I say this because in the well-formed definition of magic given by Agrippa in his Three Books on Occult Philosophy all of the positive content of modern science and engineering can be viewed as manifestations of Natural and Mathematical Magic. By positive I mean all those conclusions and doctrines of Science that have been the result of Scientific Method and not those derived from or derivable from the false world-view with which the Scientific Revolution started, the mechanistic/atomistic framework based on the Seventeenth Century revival of Epicurianism, and substantially refuted by both Special Relativity and Quantum Physics, viewed as a reductio ad absurdam proof of such mechanistic principles taken as starting points and a return to explanation in terms of Formal causes as Thomas Kuhn explores in 'Concepts of Cause in the Development of Physics', which can be found in a collection of his essays The Essential Tension, on p. 21.

From part of Kuhn's conclusion:

'What is to be concluded from this brief sketch? As a minimal summary I suggest the following. Though the narrow concept of cause was a vital part of the physics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, its importance declined in the nineteenth and has almost vanished in the twentieth. ... the structure of physical explanation closely resembles that which Aristotle developed in analyzing formal causes. Effects are deduced from a few specified innate properties of the entities with which the explanation is concerned. The logical status of those properties and of the explanations deduced from them is the same as that of Aristotle's forms. Cause in physics has again become cause in the broader sense, that is, explanation.' (Emphasis is mine) (Kuhn, Thomas; The Essential Tension, p. 28)

Since Magic in Agippa's sense is fundamentally tied to a world-view based on Aristotle's forms, the interpretation of physics in terms of Aristotle's forms, puts them on the same level as Aprippa's explanation of magic, thus magic is the proof of science. QED.

The above discussion is somewhat tongue in cheek, but the fundamental thinking is correct. It was my realization that modern science could be reframed in a Platonic world-view circa 1980, that helped me to adopt Platonism as a fundamental perspective, my 'working model' of reality you might say.


Which points to what I mean by the reconciliation of magic and science. The reason why I adopted the framework of Traditional Magic was exactly because I was not a traditionalist, but a pragmatist, I saw it then as I still see it now, as being the best theoretical framework for the practice of magic.

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Thanks for the causes of my greater understanding :)

 

You're most welcome.

 

Now to continue the discussion. One of the most important applications of these Four Causes is in looking at the content of the world around us, including ourselves, this brings us to the idea of hylomorphism which I have mentioned in many posts.

 

Hyplomorphism concentrates on the relationship between two of our causes, the Formal and the Material. The word is derived from the Greek hyle, “matter” and morphe, form. To quote from the Wikipedia article on hylomorhism:

 

Matter and form

 

Aristotle defines X's matter as "that out of which" X is made.[1] For example, letters are the matter of syllables. Thus, "matter" is a relative term: an object counts as matter relative to something else. For example, clay is matter relative to a brick because a brick is made of clay, whereas bricks are matter relative to a brick house.

 

Change is analyzed as a material transformation: matter is what undergoes a change of form. For example, consider a lump of bronze that's shaped into a statue. Bronze is the matter, and this matter loses one form (that of a lump) and gains a new form (that of a statue).

According to Aristotle's theory of perception, we perceive an object by receiving its form with our sense organs. Thus, forms include complex qualia such as colors, textures, and flavors, not just shapes.

 

Substantial form, accidental form, and prime matter

See also: Substantial form

 

Medieval philosophers who used Aristotelian concepts frequently distinguished between substantial forms and accidental forms. A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form. It may also possess a variety of accidental forms. For Aristotle, a "substance" (ousia) is an individual thing—for example, an individual man or an individual horse. The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is. In contrast, S's accidental forms are S's non-essential properties, properties that S can lose or gain without changing into a different kind of substance.

In some cases, a substance's matter will itself be a substance. If substance A is made out of substance B, then substance B is the matter of substance A. However, what is the matter of a substance that is not made out of any other substance? According to Aristotelians, such a substance has only "prime matter" as its matter. Prime matter is matter with no substantial form of its own. Thus, it can change into various kinds of substances without remaining any kind of substance all the time. (Hylomorphism, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

a material transformation: matter is what undergoes a change of form: This notion of trans-form-ation is very important because in modern literature on alchemy one constantly sees referecnces to "alchemical transformation" as if alchemy was about transformations and not some other type of change. For example an acorn becomes a mature oak tree producing acorns in its turn. Is this really a transformation, or is it something else? From this confusion arises the tendency to consider any transformation as "alchemical", or any transforming art as alchemy, but this is mistake and a hindrance to understanding alchemy. We will examine this type of change in the next post, with a little teaser at the end of this one.

 

forms include complex qualia such as colors, textures, and flavors, not just shapes: it is important to realize the scope of forms, because of the modern tendency to think of a form as merely a shape. In this meaning a Form is the cause of every manifest attribute, including qualities and shapes

 

substantial forms . . . A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form . . . The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is: A substantial form is one that is essential to something, a human body has a substantial form, it is different from the substantial form of a horse, but has some things in common, since they are both manifestations of a larger set of forms, the mammals.

 

accidental forms . . . S's accidental forms are S's non-essential properties, properties that S can lose or gain without changing into a different kind of substance: Accidental forms are those that are not an essential part of the manifestation, human beings have hair on the top of their heads, its color and texture are considered "accidents" not parts of the form of humanity. The same with eyes and skin color, they may differ among people, but they are merely "accidents", not as essential parts of the Form of Humanity.

 

what is the matter of a substance that is not made out of any other substance? According to Aristotelians, such a substance has only "prime matter" as its matter. Prime matter is matter with no substantial form of its own. Thus, it can change into various kinds of substances without remaining any kind of substance all the time: Prime Matter is matter without a form, since we can only perceive a substance with a form, Prime Matter is both invisible and intangible. Its sole property is its "power" to receive and manifest a form and to be "potentially" any-thing.

 

The links to Substantial Forms in the above is worth pursuing:

 

A theory of substantial forms asserts that forms (or ideas) organize matter and make it intelligible. Substantial forms are the source of properties, order, unity, identity, and information about objects.

The idea of substantial forms dominates ancient Greek philosophy and medieval philosophy, but has fallen out of favour in modern philosophy. The idea of substantial forms has been abandoned for a mechanical, or “bottom-up” theory of organization. However, such mechanistic treatments have been criticized for the same reasons atomism has received criticism, viz., for merely denying the existence of certain kinds of substantial forms in favor of others (here, that of atoms, which are then thought to be arranged into things possessing accidental forms) and not denying substantial forms as such, an impossible move.

 

Descartes, referring to substantial forms, says:

 

"(...) They were introduced by philosophers solely to account for the proper action of natural things, of which they were supposed to be the principles and bases . . . But no natural action at all can be explained by these substantial forms, since their defenders admit that they are occult, and that they do not understand them themselves. If they say that some action proceeds from a substantial form, it is as if they said it proceeds from something they do not understand; which explains nothing. (...)" (Substantial Forms, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

The idea of substantial forms has been abandoned for a mechanical, or “bottom-up” theory of organization: This mechanical and bottom-up theory was created from the of atomism from Epicureanism and the example of automata which started to be created in the Hellenistic period and continued to be refined during the middle ages and Renaissance.

 

However, such mechanistic treatments have been criticized for the same reasons atomism has received criticism, viz., for merely denying the existence of certain kinds of substantial forms in favor of others (here, that of atoms, which are then thought to be arranged into things possessing accidental forms) and not denying substantial forms as such, an impossible move: This points out a coherence problem with any form of atomism, there are others.

 

organize matter and make it intelligible . . . the source of properties, order, unity, identity, and information about objects: Substantial forms were introduced to help understand what was happening in "change", it is exactly this type of understanding, so easy with substantial forms which becomes extremely difficult in atomististic/mechanistic worldviews. Phenomena, such as knowledge or consciousness, that turn out to be very difficult to produce mechanically are simply assumed to be fundamentally mechanical, even though rigorous proof is completely lacking.

 

their defenders admit that they are occult: Gosh, I wonder what this is leading to . . ., could it be Occult Philosophy?

 

Finally to return to the question of Prime Matter and Potentia:

 

Modern physics

The idea of hylomorphism can be said to have been reintroduced to the world when Werner Heisenberg invented his duplex world of quantum mechanics.

 

"In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts ... The probability wave ... mean tendency for something. It's a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle's philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality." (Hylomorphism, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real: At the level of atoms and elementary particles both the ideas of "atomism" and "mechanism" applied in any strict sense fail. The world viewed as an aggregate of particles has disappeared in a sea of quantum foam.

 

It's a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia: By quantitative Heisenberg essentially means mathematical, and the old "forms" consisting of qualities such as Hot and Cold are replaced by Mathematical Forms, the distant descendents of Plato's atoms constructed from four of the Platonic solids.

 

potentia: it is to Potentia and its becoming actual to which we will turn next.

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I think I will break all this exposition up with a little look at areas of applicability. Earlier I said that:

 

Long before there was Chaos Theory, there was Order Theory and in Order Theory, the "attractor", great, strange or whatever was called the Telos, the which is an Anglicization of the Greek word rendered as "Final".

 

I will take one powerful application of these ideas and apply them to modeling Daoism, since many people here have an interest both in Daoism and Western Esoteric traditions, but first I want to point out that while these Aristotelian principles are used as explanatory principles in Agrippa, in Agrippa they have been thoroughly assimilated to a fundamentally Platonist worldview, a task first undertaken by those thinkers usually categorized as Middle Platonists, whose ideas were admirably synthesized and expounded by Plotinus and his successors.

What I am going to examine here is Aristotle's doctrine of the "unmoved mover" and I will apply them to the Daoist notion of De or "virtue" and Wuwei, or nonaction, but first the unmoved mover:

The unmoved mover (Ancient Greek: ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ,[1] ho ou kinoúmenon kineî, "that which moves without being moved") or prime mover (Latin: primum movens) is a monotheistic concept advanced by Aristotle, a polytheist, as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" moves other things, but is not itself moved by any prior action. In Book 12 (Greek "Λ") of his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: itself contemplating. (Wikipedia Unmoved Mover, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

What better description of the all acomplishing non-action Dao or the Daoist Sage then as, "that which moves without being moved"?

 

and contemplating: Contemplation is the only "activity" of the unmoved mover, it does not "act", but its very "activity" of contemplation and its own self-nature are the Formal and Final causes of all change in the world.

 

The Wikipedia article continues:

 

Aristotle argues, in Book 8 of the Physics and Book 12 of the Metaphysics, "that there must be an immortal, unchanging being, ultimately responsible for all wholeness and orderliness in the sensible world".[5] In the Physics (VIII 4–6) Aristotle finds "surprising difficulties" explaining even commonplace change, and in support of his approach of explanation by four causes, he required "a fair bit of technical machinery".[6] This "machinery" includes potentiality and actuality, hylomorphism, the theory of categories, and "an audacious and intriguing argument, that the bare existence of change requires the postulation of a first cause, an unmoved mover whose necessary existence underpins the ceaseless activity of the world of motion".[7] Aristotle's "first philosophy", or Metaphysics ("after the Physics"), develops his peculiar stellar theology of the prime mover, as πρῶτον κινοῦν ἀκίνητον: an independent divine eternal unchanging immaterial substance.[8] (Wikipedia Unmoved Mover, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

that there must be an immortal, unchanging being, ultimately responsible for all wholeness and orderliness in the sensible world: These ideas are used in Plotinus as the basis of his notion of Mind or Nous, the emanation of the Divine One and became the basis of a coherent metaphysics of the One.

 

explanation by four causes . . . (and, ZYD) hylomorphism: We have already examined these concepts "the Catagories" mentioned are part of Aristotle's logic and so aside from not being germane are too complex for the present discussion, but we will examine "potentiality and actuality" shortly.

 

immortal, unchangine being . . . an audacious and intriguing argument, that the bare existence of change requires the postulation of a first cause, an unmoved mover whose necessary existence underpins the ceaseless activity of the world of motion: This should not necessarily be taken as a describing an Abrahamic "Creator", though it was used by Jewish and Christian apologists for just that purpose, but that a "conscious" and "intelligent" being was intended is certain as its other name of Nous/Mind, implies, but its only activity is "contemplation", and it is its perpetual "activity" of perfect contemplation which is the Formal and Final cause of all change and motion in the world. How pagan thinkers used these ideas is to complex for this discussion, but John Deck's Nature, Contemplation and the One is the best discussion of how Plotinus used these ideas.

 

Aristotle was to use this idea to explain all the motion and change in our world:

 

Aristotle adopted the geometrical model of Eudoxus of Cnidus, to provide a general explanation of the apparent wandering of the classical planets arising from uniform circular motions of celestial spheres. While the number of spheres in the model itself was subject to change, (47 or 55), Aristotle's account of aether, and of potentiality and actuality, required an individual unmoved mover for each sphere.

 

Despite their apparent function in the celestial model, the unmoved movers were a final cause, not an efficient cause for the movement of the spheres; they were solely a constant inspiration, . . . (Wikipedia Unmoved Mover, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

required an individual unmoved mover for each sphere: So while Aristotle's discussion of a first unmoved mover was used by montheists, his system would have allowed for multiple other "Gods" who would have be subordinate to the One, but still a polytheism.

 

Despite their apparent function in the celestial model, the unmoved movers were a final cause, not an efficient cause for the movement of the spheres; they were solely a constant inspiration: This should clarify that the unmoved movers were not there pushing the planets and stars around, but rather were sources which while being totally themselves influenced the stars, planets and our world in "ceaseless motion"

 

There is more to all of this, but I don't want to get bogged down in details now, I only wish to point these ideas out and make a preliminary examination of their applicability to Daoism.

 

Now to look at some aspects of Daoism that are relevant to the above.

The references below are to John Lagerway's Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History (Macmillan, 1987) and a work of mine in progress, "The 金光神咒: Golden Light Invocation or Thunder Magic Incantation?"

 

 

Lagerway also notes that '”Of all beings in the universe," say the Chinese religious texts, "man is the most potent" (ling)'. About this last concept 'ling' Lagerway notes in a footnote:

'The word ling refers in general to that which is of celestial origin (Kaltenmark 1960), whence "spirits, gods," or "spirit, soul." The Chinese conceive of such entities as numinous, efficacious, penetrating, powerful, The aim of the present discussion is to show that the ascription of these attributes to ling is grounded in cosmological theory-whence the translation "potent." ' (Lagerway, p.6, Emphasis mine, ZYD)


The text in question is from the Shujing, the Classic of History, and is the beginning of the first of the Great Declarations of Zhou: 惟天地萬物父母,惟人萬物之靈。, which could be rendered as “Only Heaven and Earth is the Mother and Father of all living beings. Only Man of all living beings possesses magic power”. I have chosen 'magic' to bring out another meaning of ling, that which is to a certain extent brought out in other uses such as Ling Bao, and combines all of the meanings above. Legge in his translation renders it as 'only man is most endowed' (with what he declines to indicate!). (My work, ZYD)

 

 

 

'"Man is potent," and the simplest way to define Taoism is as the "religion which teaches how to nurture and perfect potency." The Real Man (chen-jen) is the man of pure potency: he "accomplishes without having to act" (Lao-tzu 47). His very presence in an area will produce perfect weather-rain and shine in their seasons-and, hence, abundant harvests. A Real Man, a man of sheer potency, will increase the fertility of the fields, or rather, elicit from the fields what is best in them, as opposed to what is worst or simply mediocre, and he will do so by harmonizing the energies in his body and so causing the rain to fall and the sun to shine in due time and in proper amounts in the body of Nature. Fertility and harmony are the natural responses to human perfection.' (Lagerway, p.6 Emphasis mine, ZYD)


. . . Here 'man' is given a unique position in the cosmos, with a potential that can be realized or not . . . The worldly 'he-man' is but the palest imitation of the Daoist 'real man' who has fully realized the potential that came to birth with Heaven and Earth. The power of the strongest of the hunky hominids of professional sports is miniscule in comparison to the fully 'realized man', the 'real man' who can:

'...direct his thoughts at will, wander on the clouds to eternity and back, and, above all, summon the gods to do his bidding.
That is why the man of perfected potency is like a local treasure, capable of making the rain fall and the sun shine. He has realized man's potential to be, of all beings, the most potent and so naturally all the less potent beings of the body of the universe-the Count of the Wind, the Master of the Rain (plate l9)-are at his beck and call. Whenever he solicits, Nature responds.' (Lagerway, p.7, Emphasis Mine, ZYD)

(My Work, ZYD)

 

Lagerway's descriptions are beautiful and profound so I will not comment more on them now, but leave those who have been following this discussion to contemplate how much light the above shines on the Way and its Virtue.

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Hello Zhongyongdaoist, I very much like your posts in this thread; they seem to line up (partly) to ideas presented in the mystical qabalah -- 'four worlds of creation' as the four causes, the Ain as the unmoved mover, the Twenty-Two Letters as substantial forms, and etc.

 

For example:

 

substantial forms . . . A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form . . . The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is

 

Could be viewed from the perspective of: "a Letter necessarily possesses at least one substantial form. The substantial form of the letter S consists of S's essential properties [sound, shape, and with gematria, quantity; Franz Bardon includes colours as an essential property of Letters as well], the properties the S needs in order to be the kind of Letter that S is."

 

Of course, the letter S has many forms. Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Russian, English...

 

Very interesting stuff you've presented. :)

Edited by kio

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Hello Zhongyongdaoist, I very much like your posts in this thread; they seem to line up (partly) to ideas presented in the mystical qabalah -- 'four worlds of creation' as the four causes, the Ain as the unmoved mover, the Twenty-Two Letters as substantial forms, and etc.

 

For example:

 

substantial forms . . . A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form . . . The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is

 

 

Could be viewed from the perspective of: "a Letter necessarily possesses at least one substantial form. The substantial form of the letter S consists of S's essential properties [sound, shape, and with gematria, quantity; Franz Bardon includes colours as an essential property of Letters as well], the properties the S needs in order to be the kind of Letter that S is."

 

Of course, the letter S has many forms. Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Russian, English...

 

Very interesting stuff you've presented. :)

 

Thank you for your contribution to this thread. You tripped over a detail but stumbled into some good insights. In the Wikipedia quote which you mention the author uses “S” like a variable in algebra and it is then a stand in for any particular substance and not a reference specifically to the letter “S”. When I was writing that post I had real misgivings about that passage because I did not think it as clear as I would wish and really this type of “algebraization” has no place in an introductory article. That said you took it too interesting places and if other people are getting as much out of these posts as you are then they are worth my time.

 

Your insights just need some refinements to an excellent start. I thought about dealing with them in a single post and as I saw each approach spiral off into multiple posts ranging from Psalm 119 to Plato's Cratylus with jumps off at acoustics, wave theory, linquistics and well, you get the idea, I decided that I would deal with some of these things as part of my exposition over a series of posts.

 

As two starting posts I will mention that Agrippa deals with individual letters Here:

 

In Agrippa the letters are dealt with in Chapter 74 the last Chapter of Book One

 

This deals with the form of the sound of the letters as natural “substances” which can receive the imprint of "Celestial Virtues".

 

And as far as your idea about the "ain soph" as unmoved mover, sure, but how about extending it from “unmanifest” existence to “manifest” existence and see it as Kether and think about Kether as “the One”, as I do here:

 

It might be helpful for you, and anyone else who is familiar with modern Western Occultism, to think of Plotinus One, Mind (nous, intellect), Soul and Matter as the middle pillar of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, with Kether as the One, Tiphereth as Mind, Yesod as Soul and Malkuth as Matter. In this case Matter must not be confused with the modern concept of matter, but is hyle, primary substance devoid of all characteristics, the receiver of the forms. Yesod has on one side a realm of images, Hod which provide an environment in space and time, Netzach is the realm of forms in the Aristotelian sense, Tiphereth is the 'Cosmic Mind' which controls and directs form and image to maintain the image of the living cosmos and uses the dividing power of Geburah and the Unifying power of Chesed, to organize the further manifestation of being as the 'Changing image of Eternity'. In this Tiphereth is guided by the Wisdom of Chochmah and the Understanding of Binah. Above is the The One, the Root and Crown of all existence.

 

Shortly I will show how to put the ideas of Aristotle's which I have expounded in previous posts to work in the explanation of his notions of Potential and Actual. Taken together these ideas offer powerful tools for understanding more than Agrippa, but they are an essential background for understanding Agrippa's system as a rational system as applicable to the phenomena of magic now as it was when Agrippa wrote it.

 

As a start to this I will clarify that for Aristotle all of this is about "change", but that this is obscured by the modern tendency to treat motion and change as different things. For Aristotle motion is a species of change, basically a change in position, called local motion, so that when thinking about uses like "unmoved mover" it is important to realize that this is a distortion and that for a complete understanding you need to think of an "unchanged changer" and that this includes all forms of change, birth, death, growth, decay, trans-form-ation and trans-substantiation.

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Thank you for your contribution to this thread. You tripped over a detail but stumbled into some good insights. In the Wikipedia quote which you mention [. . .]

No problem, but I never quoted from a Wikipedia page. Which page are you talking about?

 

 

Your insights just need some refinements to an excellent start. I thought about dealing with them in a single post and as I saw each approach spiral off into multiple posts ranging from Psalm 119 to Plato's Cratylus with jumps off at acoustics, wave theory, linquistics and well, you get the idea, I decided that I would deal with some of these things as part of my exposition over a series of posts.

 

I am looking forward to reading your perspective on these topics :)

 

 

And as far as your idea about the "ain soph" as unmoved mover, sure, but how about extending it from “unmanifest” existence to “manifest” existence and see it as Kether and think about Kether as “the One”

 

Because I disagree with the idea that Kether should be considered 'the One'.

My studies have led me to believe that Kether doesn't exist individually in Atziluth, it needs the tension through Binah and Chokmah in order to maintain itself. One reason Kether is considered so incomprehensible by Qabalists is because it is a gateway between the force of Ohr Ain Soph, and the form it's molded into by the Unmoved Mover called Ain Soph. There really isn't anything there besides the vortex of the tzimtzum before 'Kether' splits apart to further manifestation. All manifestation is the result of a Trinity. Otherwise Ain Soph's dream of Kether dissolves back into what I would more rightly consider 'the One' of Ohr Ain Soph (Limitless Light), and then back into the 'sleeping dreamer' Ain Soph (Unmoved Mover/Limitlessness/the One/Small Face/YHVH/etc.), and finally back to Ain (the NOT/Vast Face/).

 

tumblr_mqtoqoaGut1s1fgejo1_500.jpg

This idea explains the hermetic Axiom of Maria: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."

 

:)

 

For Aristotle motion is a species of change, basically a change in position, called local motion, so that when thinking about uses like "unmoved mover" it is important to realize that this is a distortion and that for a complete understanding you need to think of an "unchanged changer" and that this includes all forms of change, birth, death, growth, decay, trans-form-ation and trans-substantiation.

I agree with this perspective, the motion of the Unmoved Mover/Unchanged Changer is always inwards.

Edited by kio

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No problem, but I never quoted from a Wikipedia page. Which page are you talking about?

This passage:

substantial forms . . . A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form . . . The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is

Is from the Wikipedia article from which I quote:

 

 

Substantial form, accidental form, and prime matter

See also: Substantial form

 

Medieval philosophers who used Aristotelian concepts frequently distinguished between substantial forms and accidental forms. A substance necessarily possesses at least one substantial form. It may also possess a variety of accidental forms. For Aristotle, a "substance" (ousia) is an individual thingfor example, an individual man or an individual horse. The substantial form of substance S consists of S's essential properties, the properties that S's matter needs in order to be the kind of substance that S is. In contrast, S's accidental forms are S's non-essential properties, properties that S can lose or gain without changing into a different kind of substance.

In some cases, a substance's matter will itself be a substance. If substance A is made out of substance B, then substance B is the matter of substance A. However, what is the matter of a substance that is not made out of any other substance? According to Aristotelians, such a substance has only "prime matter" as its matter. Prime matter is matter with no substantial form of its own. Thus, it can change into various kinds of substances without remaining any kind of substance all the time. (Hylomorphism, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

 

and then I take it out of the quote for further comment. Apparently you missed the fact that it was a quote from Wikipedia, which is understandable, it is a long and complex post. I use Wikipedia as a starting point for things like this to help structure the discussion and also so that the reader can pursue the matter on their own.

Because I disagree with the idea that Kether should be considered 'the One'.

My studies have led me to believe that Kether doesn't exist individually in Atziluth, it needs the tension through Binah and Chokmah in order to maintain itself. One reason Kether is considered so incomprehensible by Qabalists is because it is a gateway between the force of Ohr Ain Soph, and the form it's molded into by the Unmoved Mover called Ain Soph. There really isn't anything there besides the vortex of the tzimtzum before 'Kether' splits apart to further manifestation. All manifestation is the result of a Trinity. Otherwise Ain Soph's dream of Kether dissolves back into what I would more rightly consider 'the One' of Ohr Ain Soph (Limitless Light), and then back into the 'sleeping dreamer' Ain Soph (Unmoved Mover/Limitlessness/the One/Small Face/YHVH/etc.), and finally back to Ain (the NOT/Vast Face/).

That's fine, I see you have been doing some good study, though Agrippa's Qabala is pre-Lurianic and my own based on a religion independent model of the Tree of Life, I think we can agree to disagree here and leave further discussion of Qabala in general and Agrippa's in particular to other threads.

tumblr_mqtoqoaGut1s1fgejo1_500.jpg

This idea explains the hermetic Axiom of Maria: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."

So does the tetractys:

tetractys1.gif

 

Wikipedia on the Tetractys

 

which, whether Pythagorean or not, certainly predates the Tree of Life diagram and is perhaps more historically relevant, though on a level of expanding ones understanding the reference to the Tree of Life is a good one.

 

Thanks again for your contributions.

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I see where you're coming from now. Its good to know this perspective, cause I know little about aggripa.

 

Looking forward to your future posts.

 

:)

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In Traditional Magic it is the Formal and Final causes that are most important, in what I call neo-magic, the are completely ignored and the magician is viewed as the efficient cause through his/her will power and imagination. These differences in theory strongly affect how Magicians practice magic, so they are not trivial, but very important and in my experience have a strong practical effect. It should also be noted that Traditional Magic does not ignore the magician as an efficient cause, but develops that and even extends the possibilities by developing the formal causes in the magician, the most famous example of which is in the famous Macrocosm/Microcosm doctrine.

 

I am not sure if it is completely accurate to say that the Final cause is being ignored in "neo-magical" practice. As it is usually recommended to strongly visualize the desired outcome. Thus a Final cause is being created.

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I am not sure if it is completely accurate to say that the Final cause is being ignored in "neo-magical" practice. As it is usually recommended to strongly visualize the desired outcome. Thus a Final cause is being created.

 

Well, thanks for pointing out a problem in the presentation of the four causes so far:

 

The final cause of a statue may be as a decoration in a temple. Its formal cause may be that of a conventional "form" of a deity, which is of course the "formal cause". The sculptor, no matter how inefficient he is, is the efficient cause, because he is the "maker", the root is from the Latin facere, to make.

 

The final cause is the desired or willed end, however you want to describe it, but as an end that is desired or willed, it already exists as a motivating factor or there would be no one to strongly visualize the desired outcome. In other words, the "final" cause is both the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of the causal chain.

 

So you were in a sense closer in your original observation:

 

The final cause can be seen as a cause that acts backwards in time from the future. A concept from Chaos Theory called "Great Attractor" comes to mind.

 

Thus the The final cause of a statue may be as a decoration in a temple, because it is desired or willed to "decorate" the temple to achieve an end, such as better manifesting a deity through a magically animated statue. One important point is that the final cause is always perceived as a potential "good" by the actor or actors, which is actualized, its potential fulfilled or realized, by the actions undertaken. This brings us to what I had said earlier about:

 

Shortly I will show how to put the ideas of Aristotle's which I have expounded in previous posts to work in the explanation of his notions of Potential and Actual. Taken together these ideas offer powerful tools for understanding more than Agrippa, but they are an essential background for understanding Agrippa's system as a rational system as applicable to the phenomena of magic now as it was when Agrippa wrote it.

 

Which I want to start exploring shortly, but they involve complex interactions of the four causes and I don't want people to get too bored with this whole process. I will describe these in shorter posts here such as my one on unmoved mover, but will also use this discussion in separate threads that discuss important aspects of Agrippa's Three Books.

 

Right now anyone who has followed the above discussion knows way more about Aristotle's Four Causes then I did in the period from 1972 to 74, when thinking about Agrippa and alchemy, internal and external, Eastern and Western, I started to revise my understanding of magic and the core of that revision focused around the concept of "Occult Virtues" and the notion of Occult Virtues as formal causes. Since this idea is so important as to be practically central to The First Book on Occult Philosophy, I will be starting a separate thread on the topic of occult virtues and how they relate to formal causes, in which I will reference this discussion.

 

Having a handy reference section was the "final cause" of my undertaking this thread in the first place, so that I, or anyone else for that matter, would have an easy source of reference for the discussion on occult virtues and other discussions in which Aristotle's doctrine of the Four Causes plays an important part.

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Well, thanks for pointing out a problem in the presentation of the four causes so far:

 

 

The final cause is the desired or willed end, however you want to describe it, but as an end that is desired or willed, it already exists as a motivating factor or there would be no one to strongly visualize the desired outcome. In other words, the "final" cause is both the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of the causal chain.

 

So you were in a sense closer in your original observation:

 

 

Thus the The final cause of a statue may be as a decoration in a temple, because it is desired or willed to "decorate" the temple to achieve an end, such as better manifesting a deity through a magically animated statue. One important point is that the final cause is always perceived as a potential "good" by the actor or actors, which is actualized, its potential fulfilled or realized, by the actions undertaken.

 

Okay, let me attempt to zero in on the difficulty I saw in your presentation:

 

The Final Cause is pre-existent according to the Aristotelian theory and is merely being actualized by the Magician. As opposed to the Magician creating it in the first place.Whereas in the former case, the Magician is more of an instrument for the Final Cause to manifest itself.

 

Of course, the Magician would play that role anyway. So the only real difference seems to be whether they are aware of it or not.

 

Of course, we could take this into a discussion about determinism verses freedom of will, the origin of inspiration/thought etc. - but for the time being, I will content myself with your confirmation that I have defined this difference between traditional and modern Magic adequately (if I have indeed done so). :)

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i don't understand all of this - but it is very interessting information. From studying Buddhist scriptures I learned one thing - read one book many many times, also different commentators if possible, get teachings on the same topic from different masters. I feel that the 20 something years old Agrippa wrote just such a book

 

I almost feel like Marty Mcfly "time" traveling into the basic structure of western thought

 

thank you everybody escpecially ZhongDongDaoist and please continue this!

 

..

 

 

pretty please :)

Edited by RigdzinTrinley
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i don't understand all of this - but it is very interessting information. From studying Buddhist scriptures I learned one thing - read one book many many times, also different commentators if possible, get teachings on the same topic from different masters. I feel that the 20 something years old Agrippa wrote just such a book

 

I almost feel like Marty Mcfly "time" traveling into the basic structure of western thought

 

thank you everybody escpecially ZhongDongDaoist and please continue this!

 

..

 

 

pretty please :)

 

 

....  put some sugar on it     :D

 

Thank you both for your interest and Michael Sternbach for seconding them, but when I say I am busy, as I have in "Plato and Platonism 101", I am busy.  I really hadn't intended to leave poor Trinley's post unanswered for so long, especially since he seems to be having way too much fun here, but like I said . . .

 

So, when I have time to return seriously to these posts, I will do so.

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no tension sir, no tension

 

"gut ding, braucht weile" old german proverb that roughly means "good things need time"

 

in the mean time I offer Carravaggios basket of fruit for a fruitful completion

 

post-113894-0-95331000-1445841742_thumb.jpg

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