Johan Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Order of Illuminati (the group innumerable cranks believe “rules the world,” OTO being its public face) was born this day in 1748.
Tau Apiryon posted this brief sketch of Weishaupt:
“German educator, freemason and founder of the Order of Illuminati. Crowley considered him to be a Master of the Temple. Weishaupt was educated by the Jesuits, but later became their bitter enemy. He was given the position of professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt, Bavaria in 1775, and was the first non-ecclesiastic to hold that position.
“Weishaupt’s humanistic system of Illuminism, and his Order of the Illuminati, emerged from a small group of anti-royalist, anti-clerical students Weishaupt had established at Ingolstadt. After he became a Freemason in 1777, he began to work towards incorporating his system of Illuminism into that of Masonry, with the aim of extending his social ideals throughout the world. For a time, the Illuminati exercised a considerable amount of influence, but ultimately ended in failure; largely due to vehement ecclesiastical persecution coupled with the incompetence of many of Weishaupt’s disciples.
“He was banished from Bavaria in 1784, and spent the remainder of his life as a guest of the Duke of Gotha, where he wrote A Picture of the Illuminati (1786), A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria (1786), An Apology for the Illuminati (1786) and An Improved System of the Illuminati (1787). Most of Weishaupt’s biographers, including Barruel and Robison, have been ecclesiastical or royalist partisans, and have therefore vilified and slandered him.”
Wikipedia provides these details:
“On 1 May 1776 Johann Adam Weishaupt founded the “Illuminati” in the Electorate of Bavaria. He adopted the name of “Brother Spartacus” within the order. Even Encyclopedia references vary on the goal of the order, such as New Advent saying the Order was not egalitarian or democratic internally, and sought to promote the doctrines of equality and freedom throughout society; while others like Collier’s have said the aim was to combat religion and foster rationalism in its place.
“The actual character of the society was an elaborate network of spies and counter-spies. Each isolated cell of initiates reported to a superior, whom they did not know: a party structure that was effectively adopted by some later groups.
“Weishaupt was initiated into the Masonic Lodge “Theodor zum guten Rath”, at Munich in 1777. His project of “illumination, enlightening the understanding by the sun of reason, which will dispel the clouds of superstition and of prejudice” was an unwelcome reform.He used Freemasonry to recruit for his own quasi-masonic society, with the goal of “perfecting human nature” through re-education to achieve a communal state with nature, freed of government and organized religion. Presenting their own system as pure masonry, Weishaupt and Adolph Freiherr Knigge, who organised his ritual structure, greatly expanded the secret organisation.
“Contrary to Immanuel Kant’s famous dictum that Enlightenment (and Weishaupt’s Order was in some respects an expression of the Enlightenment Movement) was the passage by man out of his ‘self-imposed immaturity’ through daring to ‘make use of his own reason, without the guidance of another,’ Weishaupt’s Order of Illuminati prescribed in great detail everything which the members had obediently to read and think, so that Dr. Wolfgang Riedel has commented that this approach to illumination or enlightenment constituted a degradation and twisting of the Kantian principle of Enlightenment. Riedel writes: ‘The independence of thought and judgement required by Kant … was specifically prevented by the Order of the Illuminati’s rules and regulations. Enlightenment takes place here, if it takes place at all, precisely under the direction of another, namely under that of the “Superiors” [of the Order].
“Weishaupt’s radical rationalism and vocabulary were not likely to succeed. Writings that were intercepted in 1784 were interpreted as seditious, and the Society was banned by the government of Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria, in 1784. Weishaupt lost his position at the University of Ingolstadt and fled Bavaria.“