Articles of interest
21st March 2023
Book in Focus
Freemasonic Enlightenment in the Context of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry
By Nicolas Laos
Within the covers of my book, entitled Freemasonic Enlightenment in the Context of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry (originally published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2023, ISBN (10): 1-5275-9207-3 and ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-9207-0), you will find:
- a comprehensive system of philosophical education (covering ontology, epistemology, ethics, and history of philosophy);
- all the necessary knowledge of psychology, political theory, political economy, mathematics (including algebra, geometry, mathematical analysis, and mathematical logic), physics, and biology;
- every significant aspect of the history, the rituals, and the teachings of Freemasonry (including the 3 degrees of Symbolic Masonry, the 33 degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and the 97 degrees of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim), Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Alchemy, and Chivalry; as well as
- the complete publishable ritual of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry (whose composer is I).
This is an intellectually demanding book and a Masonic Rite in itself, which requires a methodical and careful step-by-step reading, from beginning to end. It is self-contained (assuming only a minimum level of knowledge in certain subject areas), written in a pedagogically effective way, and its language and style should be intelligible to every person desiring an appreciation and understanding of the basic structures of philosophy and science. This book will enable you to study and understand what we call reality and the possibilities of human consciousness to conceive and restructure reality.
My way of thinking is characterized by a peculiar grand synthesis of rationalism (Descartes, Kant, Bachelard, etc.), structuralism (Durkheim, Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, etc.), the “school” of hermeneutics (Gadamer), Marxism–Leninism (as an offshoot of Western modernity and as a theoretical system unmingled with particular degraded socialist regimes), Alexander Bogdanov’s universal science of organization (“Tektology”), Anatoly Lunacharsky’s theory of “God-Building,” mathematical modelling, Norbert Wiener’s and Aksel Berg’s cybernetics, and the psychoanalytical “schools” of S. Freud, J. Lacan, and E. Fromm. Having been rigorously educated and internationally published in mathematics, philosophy, political economy, and social psychology, I pursue grand intellectual syntheses within the context of modernity.
In the era of advanced modernity, modern philosophical thought was shaped, on the one hand, by the legacy of scholasticism through phenomenology and its offshoots (namely, existentialism, structuralism, hermeneutics, and deconstructionism) and, on the other hand, by the legacy of Leibniz’s rationalist thought and infinitesimal calculus, which were further developed by Boole’s propositional calculus and Wittgenstein’s neo-positivism (which, despite Wittgenstein’s genuinely metaphysical disposition, proved to be the most characteristic intellectual hub for the transition to analytic philosophy). Contemplating and analyzing the contemporary, complex and multi-faceted state of philosophy, I have pursued two goals: firstly, to articulate a synthesis between the two aforementioned dominant philosophical currents, and, secondly, to articulate a rigorous general approach to reality as such, overcoming the antithesis between idealism and philosophical realism. My attempt is based on my conception of the “dialectic of rational dynamicity,” which I delineate in this book.
My educational vision is guided by and founded on the three major classical Athenian gymnasia (i.e., Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lyceum, and Kynosarges), the idea of the polymath (Latin: “homo universalis”) expressed in the Italian Renaissance by Leon Battista Alberti in the statement “a man can do all things if he but wills them,” and the Prussian scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt’s argument that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create in a free and rational way.
My way of presenting and communicating my intellectual work is modelled on Plato’s dialogues and on Freemasonic rituality. Indeed, Western esotericism in general and Freemasonry in particular have played an important role in the way that I approach education and the organization and management of socio-cultural groups and movements.
I was initiated into Freemasonry and became a Master Mason in England (“Honor per Onus” Lodge, No. 6586, under the auspices of the United Grand Lodge of England), and I was trained in esotericism and human engineering
- in the “Misir” Lodge of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim in the Zenith of Vršac, Serbia,
- in the “Lodge of the Sons and Daughters of Aaron” of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim in the Zenith of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.,
- in the Italian Sovereign Sanctuary of the Egyptian Rite of Misraim in the Zenith of Rome, Italy (affiliated with the Ordine Massonico Tradizionale Italiano), and
- in the Supreme Council of the Traditional Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Italy in the Zenith of Rome, Italy (affiliated with the Ordine Massonico Tradizionale Italiano);
and, in the context of the aforementioned institutions, I was proclaimed a Grand Hierophant (97th Degree) of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim and a Sovereign Grand Inspector General (33rd Degree) of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. I want to highlight the following teachings of my Brother Tau Qadosh, 33ο, 95ο, 97ο, Grand Hierophant of the aforementioned “Misir” Lodge: “Masonry has hidden, secret knowledge that is often inaccessible to the initiates themselves. The very essence of Masonry often remains hidden, because, in modern lineages, we often spend more time examining and considering Masonic rules, constitutions, and regulations,” but, as one progresses in Masonic esotericism, he/she realizes that the many degrees of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim and of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite can be seen “as specific positions on the circumference of a Circle, and all these positions are equidistant from the Center,” the point on which one stands before pure Being. Moreover, my understanding of Freemasonry has been significantly enriched by communicating with the prominent philosopher and Freemason Professor Giuliano Di Bernardo, who served as the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy and as the founding Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy, and, in 2002, he founded the Order of the Illuminati (Ordine degli Illuminati), not as a passive and atavistic imitation of Adam Weishaupt’s Bavarian Illuminati, but as an updated and philosophically informed initiatory society of “the Invisibles who plan the material and moral development of humanity.” Grand Master Professor Giuliano Di Bernardo, in his capacity as the head of the Academy of the Illuminati (Accademia degli Illuminati) based in Rome at Piazza di Spagna, has officially conferred upon me the power and the principles of the Illuminati.
Just as, during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, Orders of Symbolic Masonry of that period sought to cleanse and elucidate religious life and to bring out of it a rational and universal morality, so, too, in the twenty-first century, the new Freemasonic Rite (namely, the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry) that I compiled, after years of work, seeks to cleanse and elucidate the intellectual realm and, more broadly, the overall cultural and political life of societies, expanding and updating the very fundamental identity and mission of Freemasonry. However, the present state of Freemasonry, with the multiplicity of Masonic Rites and Masonic organizations and the anchoring in some privileged (mythical or historical) moment of the past, is reminiscent of the world of Hellenistic culture: intellectual confusion, conceptual and theoretical timidity, and serious difficulties regarding the creative integration of the subject into historicity. Plotinus, with the breadth of his perception, restructured and revitalized Hellenistic thought. Similarly, contemporary Freemasonry needs restructuring and reorientation, with a view to the future.
In view of the foregoing, I have created a new Freemasonry―namely, the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry. At the beginning of my book Freemasonic Enlightenment in the Context of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry, I explain how my scholarly and Freemasonic qualifications gave me courage and the substantive and formal legitimacy to undertake the bold intellectual project that is the subject of this book. This book intends to take Freemasonry from where it is to where it has never been. By composing the rituals, the lectures, and the catechisms of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry, I have reformed Symbolic Masonry in order to achieve the following goals:
- to truly dereligionize Symbolic Masonry, bringing about a structural transition from old ritualism, mythology, and daydreaming to philosophy, psychoanalysis, and positive science;
- to institute a truly universal system of Symbolic Masonry for men and women;
- to preserve the traditional underpinnings of Symbolic Masonry that derive from ancient and medieval Operative Masonry while simultaneously integrating important elements (mainly teachings) of other Freemasonic (ultra-Craft) Orders into Symbolic Masonry in a consistent way;
- to endow Symbolic Masonry with a clear and consistent philosophical character in accordance with my conception of Freemasonry as an esoteric system of dramatized philosophy and philosophical dramaturgy; and
- to render Symbolic Masonry capable of providing an inspiring and creative context for the conduct of thorough philosophical, theological, scientific, and political discussions, the development of interpersonal communication, and the forging of authentic fraternal relations on the basis of shared values, principles, meanings, and goals.
From my perspective, Masonic esotericism is a narrow path that can lead one to a wonderful location. But this path must be completely separated from the general human tendency towards superstition, tales, and the miraculous. Furthermore, Masonic esotericism must not degenerate into a means by which bourgeois and semi-educated people try to resist the monotony of rational thought or the harsh trials of reality through irrationality and entertaining spectacles. A worthy and valiant Freemason works conceptually, and concepts are organizational principles that enable us to transform sensory representations into concrete knowledge. I maintain that Freemasonry is meaningful and has intrinsic value if and only if:
- its beauty flows from and refers to harmonious thought and sound judgment,
- its strength flows from and refers to scientifically rigorous reasoning, a cultured and developed emotional world, and a clearly oriented will, and
- its wisdom flows from and refers to the imposition of the intentionality of human consciousness on reality in a logical, critical, and morally responsible manner. Thus, in order to be significant, an esoteric society must be rigorously and systematically concerned with ideas, technology, and institutions (including politics).
According to the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry, following Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical terminology, we enter the Lodge as Egos moving between and mastering the left-hand Pillar, which we call the “Id,” and the right-hand Pillar, which we call the “Superego”; and we hold the sacred torches of reason and modern revolutionary political thought (the Id is the primitive and instinctive part of the mind, and contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories; the Superego operates as the human being’s moral consciousness, which is the consciousness of existence when the consciousness of existence operates as a judge and evaluates the objects of consciousness; and the Ego is the realistic part of the mind that mediates between the desires of the Id and the Superego).
René Descartes (aka Cartesius) taught us the synthesis of geometry with algebra, and the analysis of structures within a Cartesian coordinate system, where pure thought (analytical work) suffices to make scientific claims without recourse to experience. Hence, the famous Cartesian dictum “I think therefore I am,” implying that the thinking subject is sufficient in itself. But Copernicus, Darwin, Marx, and Freud (each in his own way) highlighted and analyzed the complex structure of the existential center of the Cartesian subject. In the light of their work, the human subject is no longer a unitary being, but fragmented, it contains contradictions, and it is contained in contradictions. Therefore, a new, dialectical way of thinking is imperative.
Enriching Freudian psychoanalysis with concepts from anthropology, linguistics, and mathematics, Lacan argued that “Where Id was, there ought Ego to become” (Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection, London: Tavistock, 1977, p. 128). Thus, Lacan is systematically concerned with the analysis of the way in which the “Ego” (“I”) tries to “be.” According to Lacan, when we call (name) others, we constitute them as subjects through our discourse: “What I seek in speech is the response of the other. What constitutes me as subject is my question. In order to be recognized by the other, I utter what was only in view of what will be. In order to find him, I call him by a name that he must assume or refuse in order to reply to me” (ibid, p. 86).
Moreover, Lacan maintains that, “in order to know how to reply to the subject in analysis, the procedure is to recognize first of all the place where he is . . . in other words, to know through whom and for whom the subject poses his question” (ibid, p. 89). The “Other” refers to the following: firstly, the position of the analyst through whom the subject hears his own unconscious discourse; secondly, the position of the subject’s own unconscious, as other to his self; thirdly, the subject’s self-image; and, fourthly, the subject’s self-consciousness.
According to Lacan, a fool is somebody who believes in his immediate, unmediated identity with himself. In other words, the Lacanian definition of a fool is somebody who is incapable of taking a dialectical distance from himself, of seeing himself from a distance (as other to his self) and then returning to himself enriched by this understanding, by this dialectical journey. The fool lives in the world of direct, immediate experience and of direct, immediate identification with himself, and, therefore, he can live permanently immersed in daydreams and illusion. As Lévi-Strauss has pointed out, “to reach reality we must first repudiate experience,” ascending to the level of structural intellection (quoted in: Robert Young, “Psychoanalysis and Political Literary Theories,” in Psychoanalysis and Cultural Theory, edited by James Donald, London: Macmillan, 1991, p. 141).
The main purpose of Lacanian analysis is to bring human subjects to recognize and name their desires, specifically, to become fully aware of the relation of a being to a fundamental lack. Otherwise, the subject is being carried around (sometimes tragically and sometimes tragicomically) as a complex of unknowable and uncontrollable psychic deficits.
I have founded and manage the Autonomous Order of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry in order to operate as a global philosophical and scientific fraternity that, in addition to studying and defending modernity, seeks to develop modernity further and lead it to its logical conclusion and integration, in accordance with this Order’s research program. It is the result of my systematic, philosophical and scientific engagement with fundamental questions such as: what is being, and what is the reason of being? How can we study the whole as a whole? How does the cosmos unfold? What are the dynamics of thought, and what are the fundamental laws of thought? I belong to a scholarly tradition that gives primacy to fundamental questions over applications and technology (considering the latter as a significant consequence and a valuable offspring of the former), to understanding over merely describing, to philosophy over mere, immediate usefulness, to rigorous and methodical thinking over superficial visions and daydreaming, and to truth-seeking over public relations, prizes, and grants (the latter should serve and honor the former, instead of obstructing and distorting the search for truth).
Furthermore, my approach to esotericism is underpinned and determined by my education in mathematics and by my work as a consultant and trainer in mathematical modelling (a part of the research work and the dissertation that I completed at the University of La Verne under the supervision of the prominent mathematician Professor Themistocles M. Rassias was published in 1998 as the volume no. 24 of the scientifically advanced Series in Pure Mathematics of the World Scientific Publishing Company). My love for mathematics derives from the fact that mathematics is inextricably linked to inner life and, specifically, to deep and systematic thinking. The great mathematician Georg Cantor has argued that, “in mathematics, the art of asking questions [specifically, deep, consciousness-expanding ones] is more valuable than solving problems.” Knowledge advances by asking the right, significant questions and by pondering over elementary questions. Additionally, inherent in mathematics is a sense of mystery, in the sense that, in mathematics, we play with concepts and syllogisms and try to assemble them according to concrete rules of correctness in order to create models of reality. In fact, the beauty, the peculiar aesthetics of mathematics, which emanates from the art of proof and reasoning―that is, from essentially philosophical pursuits and principles―has led me to philosophy, which, in turn, has led me to the greatest heights of intellectual abstraction and to the greatest depths of the psychic apparatus.
To sum up, with my book entitled Freemasonic Enlightenment in the Context of the Modern and Perfecting Rite of Symbolic Masonry (which I would dare to characterize as the “opus magnum” of my auctorial activity), and using Freemasonry as a pedagogical and organizational instrument, I seek to offer the reader the foundations and all the necessary knowledge for a comprehensive philosophical and scientific education, to publish the conclusions of my personal, philosophical, and scientific research in a concise, lucid, and synthetic manner, and to defend and further develop the intellectual tradition of Western esotericism, the Italian Renaissance, and the European Enlightenment creatively and consistently. So, by embracing tried and tested concepts, I aspire to give them a sweeping new vitality.
Nicolas Laos is rigorously educated and internationally published in mathematics, philosophy, political economy, and social psychology. Moreover, he has an extensive international background in Freemasonry and Western esotericism.
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