Martin Luther

Commenting on Scientology, Inside and Outside the Church

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

More On Armchair Philosophers

In my recent post about armchair philosophers, I characterized myself as an armchair philosopher. A commenter kindly took exception and characterized me as a “very practical philosopher”. While I appreciate the compliment, I would still characterize myself as “armchair”. But it led me to the idea of expanding on the whole concept a bit more.

I’m far more familiar with western philosophy than I am with eastern or oriental philosophy. So I’ll confine my remarks to western philosophy.

Frankly, most western philosophy is utter claptrap garbage. Some of it comes from fellows who sat around in their offices at the university and just pondered. Some of it comes from fellows who did a similar thing in their living rooms or home libraries. (Sorry, ladies, almost none of western philosophy was originated by women. But look at it this way: you’re not to blame for it either!) And some western philosophy was crafted by men who worked in concert with psychologists and others with very nefarious goals in sight for this civilization. Almost none of it stands up to severe scrutiny, and almost all of it is plainly useless at best, or intentionally harmful at worst. About the only point in studying it is that it does help explain why the world seems so chaotic today.

But I’m not really here to run down western philosophy per se. Careful (or sometimes only casual) study marks it as unworkable. What’s common to almost all of it is that it was originated by people who had no real care for or perspective on real, living people and the struggles they face on a day to day basis. They sat in their comfy chairs and thought about stuff and then wrote down what they thought. Thus they are what I call “armchair philosophers” no matter how famous they seem to be in philosophical circles.

Now contrast this with LRH. Here was a guy who was fortunate enough to travel the world and meet people from all walks of life. He got a chance to see what effects “philosophy” had on their lives and their societies, both east and west. His purpose and compassion drove him to develop, not a sterile philosophy dreamed up in an attic above some garage, but one from which he fashioned a technology capable of lifting people out of the muck and improving their survival and quality of life. That can’t be said of any other western philosopher. Ron was anything but an armchair philosopher. He was an active explorer of life and philosophy. Scientology was the result.

You could probably perform this experiment yourself: Pick any western philosopher, and study his work. Now try to come up with a workable spiritual technology which would be naturally consistent with the views of that philosopher and flow directly from his philosophy. I would argue that it can’t be done. I’ve already been through this myself, so I pretty much know you’re going to come up with a big fat zero. I discarded philosopher after philosopher before I discovered LRH. And I found little or no basic truth in any of their ideas. In fact, what I actually found was mostly rubbish for its lack of usefulness and truth.

So there you see the difference. I sit here in my home office in front of my computer and ponder the universe, and I haven’t lived one tenth the life that LRH did. One difference between me and the other armchair philosophers of western philosophy is that I have Ron’s philosophy to serve as a starting point for inquiry. (And I’m not famous like those guys, either.)

For example, I used to wonder why teenagers, for all the trouble they get into and family strife they cause, got almost no mention as their own unique subject in LRH’s work. How could that be? What caused teenagers to be so troublesome, and was there some technology to handle them which LRH had overlooked? After having my own teenager to study for a number of years, I realized that the reason there was no separate subject of “teenagers” within Scientology was that they weren’t as unique as I thought. Teenagers mostly suffer from the mechanism of O/W, breaking their parents’ rules and withholding the fact. Almost all the behavior of teenagers can be explained by this and similar lower-Bridge phenomena, well-covered and handled in Scientology.

I do try to be practical, though. After reading and listening to so much LRH, one thing has become clear to me. Much of what LRH forwarded as pure philosophy is blindingly obvious when you think about it. Not that you or I would have come up with it ourselves. But you’ve probably had many times when you’ve read something from LRH or listened to him on tape and said to yourself, “Well, duh, that’s completely obvious when you think about it”. So in my writings I try to make clear the chain of logic used to arrive at a given point. I don’t quote a lot of people (or LRH much, for that matter), to convince you I’m right. I figure most of the points I make ought to be obvious if you know a little Scientology and just think the thought through logically. So that’s how I approach it. I also try to put things in such a way that most reasonably educated people can understand them. I don’t want people sitting around in awe of me because I just said something that sounded really profound, but they can’t quite figure out how I got there. I’ve been awed before (long ago) and it ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s better to be understood than awed.

So there you have the difference between an armchair philosopher and a real, live philosopher without the armchair. Nothing wrong with being an armchair philosopher. I enjoy it. But I also know that a real live philosopher (no armchairs) is worth all the armchair guys you can name, and then some.

Blog Posts and Comments

In my last blog post, I made mention of a blog post elsewhere and the comments accompanying it. As of a little bit earlier today, people are still going at it there.

Years ago, I was the administrator for several email lists. For the uninitiated, email lists are kinda like blogs, except all the comments and responses are individual emails, and they all appear in your in box, not on a blog web site. If you work in a large company, you probably have something like this, except that there’s probably a lot less arguing involved.

On my email lists, as with blogs, there were sometimes arguments which would flair up and die. We had rules on the lists about what was acceptable content and how far you could take your arguments, etc. Since I was the administrator, I had to read every email response to every other email on the list, on every subject. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know who to discipline, if I ever needed to do that (and I did from time to time). What I noticed from the outset was that, in the case of arguments, there was usually a lot of beating dead horses. People would make the same point over and over, waiting for the other respondents to agree, which often never happened. Over the years, it worked out that list members would usually “discipline” the bad guys before I had a chance to warn them about their conduct on the lists.

Out of this, I developed a philosophy about my list emails. My idea was to make my point and then shut up. I would let my original words stand and not argue with others. In order to make that work, I had to be as clear and succinct as possible, and not worry about whether others agreed or not. I would leave it up to the recipients of the emails to make up their own minds, based on the logic I and others used, and their knowledge of the subject matter.

Email lists still exist today, outside the corporate context, and I’m a member of a few of them. I still use this philosophy and it has stood me in good stead all these years. And I also generally use it when it comes to blog posts and comments. I make my point as clearly as I can and then let it ride. That includes when people viciously attack me for what I’ve said. I don’t censor their comments on my blog. I let them make their points. The reader then gets to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. In general, the readers agree with me. The rude and intemperate repliers to my posts and comments mostly show themselves up as mean-spirited, small-minded, troubled individuals. Their posts and comments say far more about them than they do about me. I also make it a habit not to personally attack respondents. I deal, as much as I can, exclusively with the issue at hand. And then, if they attack me personally, they’re the ones who make themselves look bad and unsympathetic.

In other words, I speak my peace and give respondents plenty of rope to hang themselves. Which they often do.

I would encourage others to adopt this philosophy as well. If everyone did, there wouldn’t be a lot of these “threads” which go back and forth forever and include a lot of venom.

Armchair Philosophers

I recently read a blog post from an older gentleman who, I guess, envisions himself as an armchair philosopher. He was trying to draw a link between ethics and admin scales. The problem with his post (and frankly, all his posts) was that, while it sounded erudite, it was actually poorly thought out. Moreover, it contained significant disagreements with LRH tech and alterations.

For example, this person had added three items to the structure of the admin scale, based on the say-so of some Class VIII who had a lot of “experience” and who had read a lot in the OEC volumes. I registered a comment about this regarding the post. I cautioned against casual alterations of LRH tech, and urged suspicion of those who forward them.

He also argued that LRH was wrong– there are absolutes in this universe. I didn’t mention this in my comments, but it is an argument which we could have had.

I could probably have spent 50 pages criticizing this post. For example, the second admin scale starts with the goal of “Knowledge”. That’s just silly; it would never have gotten past AVC if it was included as part of
an eval (that is, it would never pass the severe scrutiny of the Authorization and Verification authority of the Church). How much “knowledge” is there in the 7-11 across the street from me? A near infinite amount, depending on how deeply you want to go. Then there’s the knowledge in every auto that parks in front of it all
day, similarly infinite. Then the knowledge contained in the lot it sits on, the city it’s in, each person in the city. “Knowledge” is so specious a goal as to be completely unworkable for any purpose, unless you’re looking for a job as God. And that invalidates the whole rest of the admin scale. The rest of the article is similarly obscure and poorly thought out, with admin scale items which don’t properly align in subject or magnitude to what they should be. It all sounds esoteric and wise, but is in fact drivel.

There were those in the comment section who went along with this garbage and thanked the poster, including one commenter who posted a similarly esoteric (and lengthy) reply.

Oddly enough, the original poster thanked me for my comment. I effectively whacked him on the head, and he thanked me. I suspect he misread my intent.

Don’t get me wrong here. I have nothing against armchair philosophers. I’m one myself. Though I must say, when I write something, I try not to make it sound as though I’m the smartest guy in the room. I try to write in such a way that the point I’m making should only require a modicum of obvious observation and simple logic. Hopefully, I succeed, as least most of the time. No, my beef is with people who choose to alter LRH tech and/or disagree with LRH without doing all the research he did. LRH went to great pains to carefully observe and research his discoveries, and generally reported them in a way which was accessible to anyone. He wasn’t interested in being thought of as the smartest guy in the room. He wasn’t interested in having people stand in awe of him. He just wanted to get the word out on what he’d found.

So let me restate what I said in my comment. If we want LRH tech to remain workable over the foreseeable future, we need to be alert to alterations to it, and suspicious of people who alter it. Just because someone sounds like they’re smarter or better read than you doesn’t mean they are. And even if they are, it doesn’t mean they’re right. Save your awe for the Grand Canyon or the amount of sea life which inhabits deep sea vents.

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