Ma’at vs Isfet

It was weird but informative when my brain gave me that dream looking back at different stuff in the 2010s, and I’m glad I didn’t actually remember a full list (brainweasels would’ve had a field day). However, it does provide some context for why I seem to follow such a random assortment of bloggers on tumblr when I’m not in their community. For a small amount of time in 2016, I dipped my toe in Kemeticism, but I’ve actually been following some Kemetics longer than that.

Trying to figure out current religious labeling and community is better left to another post, but I haven’t had the clearance to interact with that pantheon since 2016. Functionally, I pretty much haven’t been part of that community for the past four years because I don’t really have the “saying the words to call on or invoke Someone without actually getting Their attention” option for rites, festivals, heka, or basically anything that’s served as a community building device in recent years on tumblr. I’m supposed to be playing in a different polytheistic sandbox, so even poking around at the Duat or worldview level topics gets a bit dicey.

So, naturally, I sat on and poked at Ma’at as a System (covers each system and explains how ma’at is regenerative), Isfet as a System (explains disorder within a system and how isfet is degenerative), and A Proposed Model for Determining Ma’at vs. Isfet (expanding on the prior two posts on how to determine if something counts as ma’at or isfet in personal and larger systems in our lives taking into account the frequency, context, scope, and scale of an (in)action). Admittedly, I haven’t really kept a close eye on discussions of ma’at, isfet, and how to live out those decisions over the years because some of it comes across as an intracommunity matter. I’m not really aware of a parallel in the sandbox I’m supposed to be in, but I’m also a solitary who’s used to setting aside the technical details of ethical differences in order to work with people on a shared goal.

Does it matter if Set or Loki bring the type of change and stress that’s supposed to help a system grow? Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to make the change any less uncomfortable or painful. Does it matter if ma’at or something else leads someone to the same practically oriented community assistance? I don’t think so. From the third post (emphasis mine):

“There is a phrase, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” and that’s truly visible when using this model. When it comes to most larger systems, such as supply chains, economies, and governments — nothing is currently sustainable, and as such, is degenerative in nature […] The context of every action is important, because I think it’s vital that we remember that so much of our day to day lives are built on practices that are not sustainable (aka degenerative), and often hurt marginalized countries and peoples the hardest. While a singular act on a small scale is relatively harmless, when considering the full scope of the process of that act even being available to you — the true harm often comes into focus.

This, of course, muddies the water because it can be ethically confusing to determine how on earth to do anything without putting energy into an inherently isfetian system, but that’s also why engaging in activism, being politically active, and holding those in positions of power accountable is all the more important. I would argue that not doing so leans you towards isfet, because it means you’re choosing to ignore the degenerative systems that are eating away at the regenerative system that is you.”

For those who didn’t read each linked piece in its entirety, from the isfet post and specifically the section about scale and context:

“One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure to clarify is that in many situations, isfet is not a singular action, but a series of actions or a trend that occurs over a period of time. Disorder is often like a crescendo: it starts off small and quiet. A few things here, a few things there. But then it slowly builds until it becomes a pattern, a habit, a trend. Something that happens consistently time and time again, which slowly takes a toll on the resilience of the system it is antagonizing.”

TTR used examples relating to climate change across the posts. Some bloggers I follow would probably use the rise of surveillance and data sharing of tech companies, legislators and courts chipping away at a variety of rights, or some other facet of late stage capitalism. I’m not sure anyone’s brainweasels could handle the full blow-by-blow of what all could demonstrate disorder developing into a pattern of a degenerative system because it would just get too overwhelming. As surprising as it may seem (considering some of my brainweasels are devoted to anxiety), the ending portion of the isfet post really keeps catching my attention (emphasis mine):

“I mentioned in the first post that in this modern era we have built up this sort of facade that we are somehow separate and untouchable from the natural systems we were born into, but it’s simply not true. The more degenerative the system we live in becomes, the more necessary and, frankly, involuntary it’ll be for people to participate in fixing the problems at hand.

Maintaining ma’at is the responsibility of all of us. Even if you’re avoiding it now, eventually you may not have that luxury.”

Yes, the final post has example questions for personal and large scale systems that show how someone can translate these posts into practical questions. But. Personally, as someone who’s in a nebulous area in terms of community and has to cobble a path together, it’s the living a regenerative effect and affecting the here-and-now that stands out. I can’t hinge anything on what might happen to me after I die, and it may be a long, miserable life if I do nothing, so I might as well embrace the opportunity to ease into working on removing disorder from a few systems while we still have a choice.


tl;dr I like the framework of ma’at and isfet as systems even though I’m honestly not the intended audience for a proposal of how to talk about Kemetic ethics. Despite the inherent Kemeticism of the proposal, I appreciate and am interested in this system because it doesn’t require deity interaction, whether that’s the NTWR or trying to figure out one of my People.

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