Social Question

partyrock's avatar

What does "Do what thou wilt" mean ?

Asked by partyrock (3865 points ) December 22nd, 2011

What does “Do what thou wilt” mean ? Is it occult? I know Aleister said it, and it means do whatever you want right?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

43 Answers

partyrock's avatar

What does “Do What Thou Wilt be the whole of the Law“ really mean ?

zenvelo's avatar

Redacted, I though this question was more general than being a quote from an obscure cult from one hundred years ago.

partyrock's avatar

Does it basically mean do whatever you want that you think is right? Follow no one else but your own views and opinions ?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t think there is any suggestion of right or wrong… just… do whatever you want. Basically.

Jeruba's avatar

In the English of our day, it would be said as “Do what you will”—that is, what you wish or choose to do.

To say more than that is a matter of interpretation. In the context of the quote you cited, there’s a lot of interpretation to be done. All I’m restating is the literal meaning of the words themselves.

Symbeline's avatar

From what I know of Crowley’s views, which is relatively little, it means that whatever doctrine and beliefs he was wanting to establish would be all that would matter once fulfilled. A lot of stuff about destiny and ’‘true will’’, which, in this quote, means that if you apply it, you’ll find fulfillment. Fulfillment being said law, but law used merely to derive importance from his teachings and where they take you, rather than to be seen as the definition of the word law. Although I guess it’s sort of the same, but I ain’t no expert with this guy, or ye Olde Englysh. If anyone here knows anything about Aleister Crowley (I’m more of an Anton LaVey fan lawlz) feel free to correct me.
Without thinking about these creepy buggers, I guess it means, do what you want. Or, for the whole thing, what you do will shape what matters. (whatever you do, but I believe Crowley had his specifics) Or..maybe not. I can’t help to think that I’d have to know what Crowley was all about to understand this lol. Worse is, I own the Book of the Law, but I never read it. :/

Earthgirl's avatar

I’m not sure of the reference you are giving but the phrase reminded me of a book title. I read this book years ago. It is called Do With Me What You Will and it is by Joyce Carol Oates one of my favorite authors. I looked up the phrase by referring to Oates and I found this interesting synopsis on Amazon reviews. Apparently it is the English translation of Nolo Contendre, basically no contest. It is taken from English common law. Read the description here as it refers to the book. I found it interesting.
“the heroine of Joyce Carol Oates’ sixth novel recognizes the truth that “Necessity Makes Law.” Assuming moral self-responsibility in the final chapter, Elena Howe enters an unspoken plea of nolo contendre, the vulgate of which is the title of the novel, Do With Me What You Will ( 1973 ). The plea, in English common law and in most states, requires the court to proceed on an assumption of the defendant’s innocence—even though he refuses to defend himself. Here the reader is the court and Elena Howe is both Everyman and many women. The dilemma she has been chosen to exemplify, the struggle to create and retain a tenable sense of self, is a universal one in which every individual who achieves emotional and moral maturity participates. For Elena a belated and violent sexual awakening sounds a warning signal, forcing upon her the realization that she must synthesize her personality or accede to her own disintegration. Elena’s resistance and the Jungian stages of her individuation provide the narrative structure of Oates’ most subtle and complex novel yet.”
(http://www.amazon.com/Do-Me-What-You-Will/dp/0814907512)
And here is further explanation of the phrase Nolo Contendre.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolo_contendere

SmashTheState's avatar

The basis of “Do what thou wilt,” is existential. The “slave mentality” as Nietzsche referred to it, is the acceptance of external authority as the basis of moral law. The Ubermensch does not accept external authority, the Ubermensch creates morality through exercise of his Will to Power, forcing the Universe to conform to his desire, and thus creating the laws which lesser men follow.

“Do what thou wilt,” then, is the axiom of any who choose the left-hand path of internal authority rather than the right-hand path of external authority.

YARNLADY's avatar

As @SmashTheState says, it’s been interpreted to mean the opposite of Do God’s Will, but rather your own will.

SmashTheState's avatar

@YARNLADY and I are in complete agreement. Satan was the original anarchist, the first freedom fighter against tyranny; his sin, the sin which caused the Fall, was to say ”I Will” five times in his heart, rather than “God’s Will.” Of course, I suspect that @YARNLADY and I, while agreeing completely on the division, are on opposite sides of the divide.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SmashTheState You would be mistaken

AstroChuck's avatar

This is the first part of the Wiccan Rede.

Symbeline's avatar

@AstroChuck Yeah, while looking this up, it mentioned a pagan proverb that it may have inspired this thing from.

Earthgirl's avatar

AstroChuck”:http:// I looked up the Wiccan Rede and interestingly if you know the first part of it, it makes a big difference to the message:
An it harm none do what ye will.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_Rede

jerv's avatar

@Earthgirl Correct. My personal interpretation of A. Crowley’s statement had strong elements of, “Your right to hit me ends where my nose begins” but other interpretations may or may not have that connotation/implication.
In other words, there are some that take Mr. Crowley’s words to mean that subjective morality does not exist and that you can do whatever the fuck you want while others (myself included) interpret it in a manner more similar to the Wiccan Rede; you can do whatever the fuck you want so long as nobody gets hurt. Which interpretation is correct? Mu.

Ayesha's avatar

Do as you please.

Earthgirl's avatar

jerv Which is correct? I know your question is rhetorical. I have no idea of course. But you can bet that, as usual, people will interrpret it in accordance to what they wish it to mean and probably don’t even care how it was actually meant. And what does it matter how it was meant in the end? We need to live according to our own conscience and not look for someone else to tell us what is ok or not ok.

submariner's avatar

OP: “An you harm none, do what thou wilt” just means “As long as you harm no one, do whatever you want.” The wording is archaic (“an” is an old word for “if” in this context), but the message seems clear enough. I would have thought that the first part of the statement is important, and I’m surprised it took so long to appear in this thread. I take it to mean what jerv says it means, but I’m neither a Wiccan nor a Satanist, so I don’t know what it has come to mean in practice.

GracieT's avatar

It’s all about Karma. It is the Wiccan Rede. I think the point is to look after others, doing what we want is ok, along as it it doesn’t impact anyone else in a negative way. During college I called myself a Wiccan, but looking back now I don’t think that I really was.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Stemming from Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic organization the O.T.O. and later adopted by Gerald Gardner as part of the Wiccan Rede, it is essentially a code that promotes following one’s desires. There is a line that Crowley added afterwards that was basically a longer version of the “An it harm none”, something about love being the root of the law.

SmashTheState's avatar

“What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.”Friedrich Nietzsche

CaptainHarley's avatar

@SmashTheState

Nietzsche was a fool. What other sort would say “that which does not kill me, omly makde me stronger?” So the strongest person is a blind, quadraplegic former soldier with brain dysfunction from an IED? Riiiiiight!

Symbeline's avatar

@CaptainHarley I don’t think that saying means that, literally. I believe it’s more about hardships, trials and life experiences and shit like that.

ucme's avatar

Wash thy penis in a bucket of ice water?
Hence the wilt :¬(

submariner's avatar

I think what N. actually said was, “what doesn’t destroy me etc.”

CaptainHarley's avatar

“His key ideas include the death of God, perspectivism, the Übermensch, amor fati, the eternal recurrence, and the will to power.”

Not someone I want to follow, either politically or intellectually. Who’s YOUR “Ubermensch?”

Oh yeah… his ideas formed a sizeable proportion of the Third Riech’s philosophy.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley I thought they also formed the basis for the GOP over the last couple of years; they merely declined to attribute the ideas to Nietzsche for fear of worse PR than they already have.

AstroChuck's avatar

@CaptainHarley- To be fair, the Nazis were very selective in regards to Nietzsche’s philosophies. You can take pretty much anyone’s writings and make simple-minded interpretations that fit your designs.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

Very funny. Ha ha! It is to laugh. Verily, my body is wracked with hystical laughter! : P

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley What do you care if the Republicans are totally bat-shit; I thought you were a Libertarian…

blueberry_kid's avatar

Do as you think you should. (I think…)

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

Bro, I don’t even call my worst enemies names! : D

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley I call everybody names. The difference between friends and enemies is whether I am smiling when I give you the finger.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
— Robert A. Heinlein

This, in essence, is just a restatement of “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” As noted by @SmashTheState, it is an assertion that externally delivered rules cannot ever have the authority that rules we take on for ourselves can have. Such an idea unites as diverse a group of people as Kant, Crowley, Nietzsche, and Heinlein. Whatever one thinks of it in the final analysis, then, it is an idea worth taking seriously.

And since it is my professional duty, a few notes on Nietzsche:

(1) Nietzsche despised both anti-Semitism and nationalism. Both views come in for a great deal of criticism in his major works, and Nietzsche spent a good amount of effort trying to get his sister to renounce her nationalistic and anti-Semitic tendencies.

(2) The Nazis didn’t actually read Nietzsche. Hitler’s favorite philosopher was Schopenhauer, whose work he kept with him at all times while serving in World War I. The propagandists assigned to redact Nietzsche’s work to make it look like he supported the Nazi cause considered their job a hopeless task and wound up having to falsify entire passages to make the claim.

(3) The Nazis tried to appropriate every famous German to their cause, no matter how far in the past and how opposed to the tenets of Nazism that thinker might have been. That they tried to appropriate Nietzsche is no more indicative of what he was about than the fact that they tried to appropriate Goethe (and Jesus, by the way).

Indeed, the Nietzsche-Nazism myth has been debunked so many times, I can’t figure out why anyone still believes it at all.

As for his major ideas:

(A) The death of God is the idea that Europeans were facing a crisis due to the rise of science making it hard to take God seriously as an explanation for anything in the world, thus undermining the ordering principle of their culture. Specifically, his point was that ethical systems would have to be completely revised if belief in God is rejected.

(B) Perspectivism is the view that no human being has the complete truth, and that we can only approach what is actually the case by taking many different viewpoints into consideration. It does not say that there are no objective truths, it does not say that no viewpoints are better than others, and it does not say that truth is relative.

(C) The Übermensch is not actually a central idea to Nietzsche’s philosophy and is discussed very little in Nietzche’s completed works. The main characteristic of an Übermensch is that he has overcome nihilism: he lives a life that he finds meaningful rather than lamenting that the world does not impose meaning upon him.

(D) Amor fati, or the love of one’s fate, is about living a life without regrets. It is connected to the idea of the eternal recurrence, which is a thought experiment in which we are asked to imagine a world in which we live the same life over and over again. Nietzsche does not say that this is how the world actually is, but says only that a good life can be recognized by whether or not we would be able to affirm living it on endless repeat in this way.

(E) Finally, the will to power is most fundamentally about self-control as a virtue. We have competing drives, according to Nietzsche, each of which is competing to be the guiding force of our lives. To live well, he thinks, we must overcome our less worthy drives and place in the position of power that which we have decided is the one most authentic to who we want to be. This requires immense self-control, as our other drives are quite strong and insistent on getting their way.

These are all simplifications, of course, as each idea could be the subject of a book-length dissertation. Still, it is my frequent observation that the average discussant of Nietzsche has no idea what he actually said about anything.

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire ~Don’t confuse the issue by bringing up actual facts!

Oh, and Happy Chrismahannukwanzmas to all!

Inspired_2write's avatar

Giving us permission to do as we please..gee thanks.
It is a quote from the Bible.

Jeruba's avatar

The Bible? Hardly. Just the opposite.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Do what you wish.
Bible phrase.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Inspired_2write First of all, the question is about the phrase “do what thou wilt.” More specifically, it is about the phrase “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” which comes from Aleister Crowley. Second, “do what you wish” is an ordinary phrase in English. Perhaps it appears somewhere in the Bible (though I wonder if you have chapter and verse for it), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we got the phrase from the Bible. It could be that it was an idiom used for an English translation precisely because it already existed and got across what the original language intended to convey.

Inspired_2write's avatar

i was not referring to an actual quote, merely the meaning that I deduced it to be.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
flamebait's avatar

Hey! I didn’t say anything!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Inspired_2write First you said it was a Bible quote but refused to back up that claim in any way. Now you say you weren’t even trying to answer the question and just making things up. How very helpful of you.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther