«The heart has reason of which reason knows not.»

—Blaise Pascal

This simple statement rings very true to me.  It is my conviction that, on some level, human beings are entirely, 100% rational; although they may not fully understand their own line of reasoning.  Thus, the common view of man as a being struggling between a rational self and an emotional (and, by popular implication, irrational) self, is deeply inaccurate.

Emotions are automatic responses to phenomena based upon those phenomenas’ relationships to the subject’s true value system.  For example, a man who believes that a person’s body-ownership is sacrosanct will be deeply upset if he witnesses a rape.  A man who believes that killing someone is never right, regardless of the circumstances, will experience feelings of horror in the face of wars and executions, while someone who believes that under certain circumstances killing is necessary, may or may not experience the same emotions while witnessing the same events.  Therefore, emotions, contrary to popular understanding, can, in fact, be thought of as rational responses to phenomena.

Furthermore, without realizing it, we frequently act upon unidentified and unscrutinized emotional responses.  People who do this regularly (act without being able to identify the reasons for acting in such a way, post-facto) are typically thought of as «impulsive,» yet, I maintain, the reasons are there; they may be obscure, and they probably are not well thought out, yet they are there.

«Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.»

—Aliester Crowley

This statement is entirely correct, although, perhaps not in the sense that the author meant.  Mr. Crowley (of Black Sabbath fame) was a prominent Satanist and Hedonist.  Although the man was frequently cryptic of speech, one might imagine that what he meant by the statement was that one should not be held back by what he considered to be frivolous moral principles.

However, there is another possible meaning to this statement, which I think is perhaps more thoroughly accurate: that our actual value system, in conjunction with a man’s strength of character operates as law which, consciously or unconsciously, guides that man’s behavior by means of constituting his will.

So if you do a thing which is not consistent with your system of values as you understand them, what you must ask yourself is, «Is my understanding of my own value system incorrect, or is some short term sense of gratification able to override what I believe to be right?»