Nothing is true, everything is permitted  

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"Nothing is true and all is allowed, was the groundwork of the secret doctrine; which, however, being imparted but to few, and concealed under the veil of the most austere religionism and piety, restrained the mind under the yoke of blind obedience, by the already adopted rein of the positive commands of Islamism, the more strictly, the more temporal submission and devotion were sanctioned, by eternal rewards and glory." --The History of the Assassins (1818) by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall

Vestiges of the Alamut Castle (photo Payampak)
Vestiges of the Alamut Castle (photo Payampak)

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"Nothing is true, everything is permitted" are supposedly the final words of the Islamic missionary Hassan-i Sabbah, attributed to him by historian Ata-Malik Juvayni.

Sabbah's dictum was first quoted in the west by Friedrich Nietzsche in his 1880s work Thus Spoke Zarathustra (original German Nichts ist wahr, Alles ist erlaubt).

"Nothing is true, all is permitted": so said I to myself. Into the coldest water did I plunge with head and heart. Ah, how oft did I stand there naked on that account, like a red crab!"

Like Aleister Crowley's "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law", this phrase is often interpreted in its most literal sense to mean that objective reality does not exist (see relativism) and therefore that free will is unlimited. However, "Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted" is more widely interpreted to mean "there is no such thing as an objective truth outside of our perception; therefore, all things are true and possible". It is a basic tenet in chaos magic and a core concept in discordianism and pirate utopias.

The phrase is also mentioned in the 1938 novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol and in William Burroughs's novel Cities of the Red Night.

It is used as a credo on Axiom, Bill Laswell record label and alluded to in the title of Isis's album In the Absence of Truth. Brion Gysin's biography is titled Nothing Is True - Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin. In film, Turner mumbles those words to Chas in Performance.

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