The Magical Method

Martin Rezny
Words of Tomorrow
Published in
8 min readSep 22, 2017


How to understand and shape the world as a mage


I understand that the definition of magic I provided may sound vague and that it may not be obvious how it translates into a specific approach to life or the world. However, it does immediately result in the asking of specific questions and other specific behaviors aimed at achieving specific goals.

When you choose to see the world primarily as a product of imagination turned into action, or something that exists for reasons that are connected to the essence of what imagination or action are, you’re going to dramatically diverge from many of the standard procedures of modern scientific practice.

It’s a radically different premise — science in its current form is concerned with meaningless objects and considers human imagination or agency to be illusions. If you think as a scientist today, you view organisms as mechanisms, fully determined by forces and laws external to our identity, ideas, or wishes.

In order to do science, you have to assume that humans are essentially things, cogs in a machine. It can be a fancy organic or probabilistic machine, complex and unpredictable thing, but still, a thing existing in a universe fundamentally uncaring about the quality of our experience where choice isn’t real.

Magical Questions

When you assume that existence is a creation by or for us, you don’t start by asking scientific “how” questions. While you don’t ignore them, other questions come before them:

  1. Question of identity: Who am I?
  2. Question of intent: What do I want?
  3. Question of purpose: Why am I here?

Material science doesn’t consider you to be a “who”, it considers you to be a “what”, and an objective “what” at that. It doesn’t care about “what” you want in a subjective sense either, instead it asks “how do you behave” in case of behaviorism, or “what do you think”, again in an objective sense, in cognitive science. As for “why” questions, the dominant scientific view of those is that they’re either a “how” question in disguise, or a non-question — a material universe doesn’t have any purpose, and a subjective sense of one is an illusion.

The thoughts, behaviors, and mechanisms can be quantified, and that’s why they’re studied by material science. But your identity, intent, and purpose that allow for any agency belong to a group of phenomena called qualia that material science cannot explain. Some scientists could add “at present”, but there’s really no obvious connection between consciousness itself and particle physics at all which would suggest that material science is getting there.

There are sciences in some sense of the word that do focus on qualitative understanding of phenomena like personality or experience, like psychoanalysis for example, but these are often criticized and mocked by material scientists precisely because they delve into the unquantifiable. And they have a point. Why bother interpreting the meaning of dreams or stuff like that when multiple interpreters are likely to disagree? What are you learning?

Magical Experiments

The aspect of science that does make sense to follow in any scenario is the falsification principle — unless you can make a test than can theoretically prove your hypothesis to be false, it’s a useless hypothesis. While it is harder to construct tests to figure out anything about qualia, it’s not as impossible as most material scientists tend to believe. The problem is it takes a kind of mental and personal discipline that‘s never taught in science classes.

At its core, the scientific method requires no personal ethics or maturity, certainly not kindness or empathy, from the one wielding it. Only a certain kind of mental agility is needed. In magic, while trying to figure out questions of identity, intent, and purpose, a talent for introspective observation is required, along with a lack of ego and abundance of personal integrity. Overly strong ego stands in the way of accurate subjective observation, while lack of integrity leads to the observer being too easily swayed by external influences.

Once you get an observer with the appropriate attitude and aptitude, further divergences from dominant scientific assumptions have to be allowed:

  1. Agents are not interchangeable — don’t assume there’s one thought or one behavioral system or one genetic mechanism for all humans. In fact, assume that each agent is unique. You don’t observe them to uncover a law of the universe, you observe them to uncover a law of them. There may be a deeper universal system in which all possible entities fit, but consider each of the agents a logically internally consistent emergent universe unto itself lodged in a multiverse of interactions between personal universes.
  2. Relations between agents always matter — if you don’t understand how you relate to whom or what you’re observing, you learn nothing of value. Meaningful universe presupposes there being a meaningful point to what you get to observe when and in what order. Specific mechanisms can be in play, causing you to assume or feel things toward the observed person. Who you are is part of the equation and it needs to be subtracted from it.
  3. Moment of observation is part of a continuum — meaningful time cannot be dissected into atoms, it’s always going from somewhere to somewhere. If there is natural meaning to actions, circumstances should tend to conspire to result in a point being made in some sort of upcoming resolution, exerting pressures against or forming hard limits to agency in any present moment, up until the resolution which is a new beginning of another process of making a point. There’s no fact without context.

Following these axioms, a practical approach begins to form. You can compare people, but only those who actually share the same experiences, and you can compare them only to the extent to which they share those experiences. You can begin to ask practically what the purpose is of having met certain people and having formed certain relationships with them by focusing on how you react to them in contrast to how you react to other people in your life. Or look at what kinds of people are notably not present in your life of all that do exist. You’ll begin to gain predictive power about where things are headed in your life, assuming you identify the pattern of your identity clashing with evolving circumstance.

Preventing Individual or Collective Delusion

It may sound esoteric, but it isn’t any more esoteric than being aware of being in love or being in pain. Such are facts of experience. No matter how loudly one proclaims experience to be an illusion, they would still very much like to avoid being punched in the face. While cognitive or perception-based illusions or delusions do exist, they can be identified and differentiated from accurate awareness, or otherwise there would be no such things as sanity or shared consensus. While self-knowledge or insight are hard, they’re very doable.

Multiple independent and neutral observers may not agree as easily about, for example, someone choosing a wrong person to be in a relationship with, as they would agree on 2+2=4, that’s true. But those observers who have adequate aptitude (which should be testable itself) can and should be able to agree on such observations or conclusions on some level of detail with some general accuracy. It would be a fuzzier consensus than the one in material science, but not an irrelevant one, with right/wrong as well as true/false.

Unlike most relativistic postmodern approaches or absolute religious dogmas, magic has a concept of right and wrong that isn’t arbitrary. What’s right for an individual is that which is in accordance with their identity, intent, and purpose in the context of their own internal laws, which all are their natural properties that can be observed. Wrong is doing that which goes contrary to who they are, what they want, and/or what their purpose is in a given situation. Right and wrong therefore can only be for someone in particular, but in an existential way that could not be anything else than what it is.

That is of course not a moral judgment of what’s good or bad, but more of an existential equivalent of the medical distinction between the physiological and the pathological, also differentiating what’s possible or impossible for a given agent to do, and therefore what it does or doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable for. From this point of view, knowledge cannot be qualitatively speaking neutral, which is another departure from science. In science, if most people share a behavior, that makes it normal. In magic, each agent is expected to have a personal physiological normal unrelated to any statistics.

Magical Institutions

Modern science as an institution doesn’t trust the judgement of individuals and does very little to develop their integrity or self-understanding, unlike arts or philosophy. And no, being good at math is not a character trait. Most scientists would probably strongly dislike and resist some kind of inquisition into the quality of their character, especially if it was accurate. Only a fully anarchical concept of science can find a personal consideration important. Arguably, that is the best approach to science. To learn about it, you can read Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge by Feyerabend.

Unfortunately (from a scientific point of view), a mage, or in other words, someone who can figure out and master the qualitative realm, cannot be impersonal, unrelated to other people, and unimpactful on them. Learning to understand qualia changes the learner and their interactions with others, which in ripples changes also the others and their interactions with yet others. Without accurate self-knowledge or knowledge of others that require certain attributes of character to be attained, there’s no accurate awareness gained.

For this reason, in a magical academy, the relationships between mages have to be much more personal than between scientists in a scientific academy. Without knowing each other well, mages can’t even understand what it was that the other observed, let alone achieve any accurate interpersonal consensus. Without the authority being based on the quality of character, you would get the same problems plaguing qualitative sciences — politics deciding results of research, inability to focus on what matters, chaotic effects of what was “discovered” on the society, and generalizations of the ungeneralizable.

Is it difficult to realize? Of course. Magical academy cannot effectively have huge numbers of members and remain in any way functional. “Quality” of character also may not mean benevolent intent, since good observers don’t have to prioritize helping others. Of course, in science, you still have people with benevolent and malevolent motivations in equal measure, but also many more aimless, clueless people. Mages are very focused by default, and are a problem if their focus becomes destructive, which is why it’s not good when most benevolent people choose to do science and leave magic to evil people.

Fortunately, magic by any other name is still magic, and there always are benevolent people who happen to use this method, whether they realize it or not. The main modern development was the banishment of magic from science, which is unnecessary and unconstructive, but there still are many artists who are figuring out qualia in a personal way under an individualistic, anarchical paradigm. They create ideas that allow people to find meaning in life, defend themselves from manipulation, and achieve great things that make this world a better place, empowered by technology that happened to be developed blindly, which is why it empowers equally those who seek to cause harm.



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