Skip to content

On The Illuminati

I’m not interested in determining the existence or evaluating the evidence for The Illuminati. Considering anything as evidence for the existence of The Illuminati undermines the very concept of ‘The Illuminati’ (I will argue). To clarify, I’m talking about a particular sense of the term ‘The Illuminati’: The Illuminati of the conspiratorially minded and the drug culture at large. Academic philosophers have yet to address this topic, but this is not surprising1 as this concept/meme has yet to assume its rightful throne in the minds of the masses.

The Back Story of The Illuminati

As far as I know (and as far as I care to research), the current concept of ‘The Illuminati’ is due to Robert Anton Wilson’s The Illuminatus Trilogy which popularized the Bavarian Illuminati of the 18th century, and by extension all Hermetic brotherhoods prior. More recently, The Illuminati has been the subject of the popular thrillers: Lara Croft, Angels and Demons, and National Treasure.

The Concept of ‘The Illuminati’

Here I won’t be concerned with the metaphysical status of some “Illuminati” but I will rather consider the concept of ‘The Illuminati’ in light of empirical/epistemological constraints. Here I am not ascribing to the following belief, but am rather explicating the popular conception of it. First off: The Illuminati is clandestine; in fact, those at the top probably claim to belong to an order originating with the mythological inventor of covert-ops. The Illuminati is so clandestine that nothing counts as evidence for the existence of The Illuminati. Nothing could count as evidence for The Illuminati: Illuminati investigators could never know (from the outside) whether they were actually discovering members of The Illuminati and they could never know the extent of The Illuminati’s plans. It is for these reasons (which I will detail below) that I am claiming that the possible referent of ‘The Illuminati’ must lie in the realm of the empyrean.

The first thing to understand about The Illuminati is that they are clandestine. Being “clandestine” is consistent with a number of possible worlds. One: The classic Illuminati comprising an organized group entirely removed from the apparent work-a-day world of the people, nations and “news”.  Another possibility is that The Illuminati is to some extent loosely organized. “Loosely organized” itself could refer to any number of possibilities2 that I will leave the reader to sort through. Actually, I am not interested in any of the above possibilities. There is only one possibility that makes any sense out of ‘The Illuminati’ to me: If something like “The Illuminati” exists then it is either essentially beyond our pedestrian paradigm3, or else the term refers to people-in-the-world (organized or not) who probably don’t even think of themselves in terms of The Illuminati as is popularly conceived.

Furthermore, I’d like to argue that nothing counts as evidence for any such Illuminati (popularly conceived). If the Illuminati is so rich and powerful, and has an endgame beyond the ken of the “ordinary” world, and if The Illuminati are the masters of disinformation and subterfuge as they are supposed to be, then literally anything and everything could be evidence of The Illuminati. What follows from this is that: Nothing is necessarily any more evidential of The Illuminati than anything else.4

The last point I’d like to make with regards to the concept of ‘The Illuminati’ is something I see to be a more recent development of this concept in the publick imagination. I used the world ‘empyrean’ above, but what I mean by this is that ‘The Illuminati’ has achieved a seat among The Great Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, Past and Present. Considering the epistemological constraints on such a body, it becomes apparent that The Illuminati shares the same epistemological/philosophical problems that Philosophers of Religion have been concerned with for ages. Thus, I will make a final leap to conclude that The Illuminati is a naturalistic embodiment of The Demiurge.

  1. and as I will argue, philosophy professors are often among The Illuminati []
  2. We must talk about “possibilities” exclusively since The Illuminati is essentially covert. []
  3. …and, therefore, of no actual relevance to the lives of men and “history” []
  4. I will leave it up to the reader to determine if that actually “follows”. []