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.