Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chapter 3: The Goal of Man

The goal of man is to survive. This is the goal of both the individual and the species. Man derives pleasure from his survival and in pursuing his survival, avoids pain. In this chapter, Hubbard expounds these ideas as well as graphs man's potential as a function of time.

Hubbard begins by discussing what the answer to the question What is the goal of man? (Hubbard also calls this man's dynamic principle.) must explain. In his words, man's dynamic principle of existence

would explain all phenomena of behavior; it would lead toward a solution of man's major problems; and, most of all, it should be workable.
Hubbard confuses me from the start (not a good sign) with this requirement. First of all, why should we believe that man or mankind has an ultimate goal? Also, if man does have a goal, why does it have to be singular. Can he not have several goals? And why should we assume it would explain "all phenomena of behavior"? Can man not behave in ways that either ignore or work against these goals? I do agree that that if man did have a goal and we knew what it was, it would aid us in solving some of mankind's problems or at least aid in explaining some of them. As to the goal of man being workable, I'm not sure I know what that means. Perhaps he means, like a solution to an equation in physics, it needs to have some basis in reality. I agree if that is the case.

In order to motivate his solution to this problem, Hubbard tells us a little about the universe. In doing so, he makes some rather odd assertions. The first,
All things in the finite universe, whether known or as yet unknown, can be sensed, experienced or measured.
is quite a claim. First Hubbard asserts that the universe in finite (to be fair, he could just be restricting his claims to the known/material universe) which is still a matter of scientific debate. This is nothing compared to the insistence that all things in the universe "can be sensed, experienced or measured". There is no way to prove this claim either true or false. If something is not able to be experienced, we'd never know about it. Pretty obvious. However, there may be things (such as dark matter) which we are able to infer but not experience directly.

Hubbard then turns to defining the elements of the universe.
The finite universe contains time, space, energy and life [emphasis Hubbard]. No other factors were found necessary in the equation.
First of all, what equation? I don't see any equations in this chapter, and Hubbard sure doesn't describe any. I'll agree that the universe does seem to contain what Hubbard insists. However, I cannot say that is all the universe contains, and I'm not sure why Hubbard can.

Continuing with his trend to assert his "truths", Hubbard insists the four element mentioned above all "obey a single order", to survive. That is,
The Dynamic Principle of Existence is Survival [formatting Hubbard].

Now that we have defined the purpose of all that exists in the universe, we can turn to the purpose of lowly man. His purpose is (as you might suspect) to survive. In fact, "the goal of life can be considered to be infinite survival", and what is remarkable is that man's only motivation is to survive.

In order to accomplish this survival thing, man (or any organism, or even life itself) must be able to adapt to new environments. Hubbard does not use the word, but he is, in essence, talking about evolution. Organisms need to evolve in order to survive. Why he chooses to avoid the term, I do not know. Supporting my claim, Hubbard states
The naturalist and biologist are continually resolving the characteristics of this or that life form by discovering that need rather than whim governs such developments.
It seems that this time Hubbard brings out the scientists as poof of his point. I'm sure he will put them away again until his thoughts happen to sync up with real research again.

Now that survival has been established as the mechanism for explaining all of man's actions, Hubbard breaks down survival into is composite parts, pain and pleasure. To Hubbard, pain and pleasure are forces with pain being a repelling force and pleasure being an attracting force. Pain comes from times when man is reduced in his potential. Now, this potential is not purely abstract. Hubbard has provided us with a representative graph of man's potential over time. Let's take a look.

As you can see, this graph plots survival potential as a function of time. This plot is representative of a species which is having moderate success at either increasing survival rate or life span. The graph works for many different scenarios. It's a trend for individuals, species, and life in general. It also applies to both the mental and physical potentials with the mental curve predicting the physics curve.

The time axis is just that, time. The potential axis, however, is a measurement of the mortality of the subject of the graph. It is shown on a "geometric progression" because it is infinitely difficult to obtain immortality (I suppose by the same reasoning, it should be infinitely easy to obtain death or extinction, but death being a repulsive force might negate some of that?). I suppose that Hubbard just does not realize that the choice of scaling says nothing about the data contained within, and as there are no units on the potential axis, the choice of scaling is just confusing.

The "zones" on the plot arbitrarily point out places along the continuum of potential. Hubbard admits they are "very unprecise, but nevertheless descriptive" [I know, it's imprecise].
Zone 3 is one of general happiness and well-being. Zone 2 is a level of bearable existence. Zone 1 is one of anger. Zone 0 is the zone of apathy. These zones can be can be used as a tone scale.
The zones also can be represented with decimals. A person can be in zone 3.8, some sort of euphoric state. I think when Hubbard says the zones are a "tone scale" that he means they increase in some sort of regular fashion, but I'm not positive that's what he means. Also, how does one quantify happiness or apathy? Where do these numbers come from?

Dianetically (If Hubbard can use the word, I can too.), we can measure our day-to-day metal state by these tones/zones and "in the course of a single day an aberree may run from 0.5 to 3.5, up and down, as a mental being". I believe Hubbard is simply stating that people's emotions changed during the course of a day and sometimes, like during either a tragic or euphoric event, that change can be very large. The difference between what he said and what I think he means is that he made up some numbers to go with the sentiment.

The mental state is not the only characteristic which gets quantified. Zones apply to
the mental state on an acute basis and the mental state on a general, average basis, and the physical being on an acute basis and the physical being on a general basis.
Dianetics, however, focuses on the mental tone scale and ignores the physics. Why? Hubbard doesn't say.

Now that we have learned how Hubbard measures people, you might be wonder what the difference between a clear and an aberree are in this tone scale. Well there is quite an enlightening quote to answer that question:
A clear is usually found varying around tone 4, plus or minus, in an average day. He is a general tone 4, which is one of the inherent conditions of being clear. A norm in current society, at a wild guess [emphasis mine], is probably around a general tone 2.8.

WHAT? At a WILD GUESS? I thought Hubbard had been RESEARCHING this Dianetics thing. If he does not know what the average person is, the CONTROL, he does not know ANYTHING about his precious tone scale. Honestly, I think I would be justified in throwing the book away at this point. You, reader, would also be justified in stopping here if all you wanted was a good reason to ignore Dianetics. If however, you want to see just how much Hubbard abuses both science and the English language stay with me. It gets better (or worse).

Ok, after a few deep breaths, it's time to continue. After illustrating that his levels are both meaningless and arbitrary, Hubbard proceeds to tell us more about the survival dynamic. In another example, he writes
The survival dynamic [emphasis Hubbard] actually resides within the organism as inherited from the species. The organism is part of the species as a railroad tie might be said to be part of a railroad as seen by an observed on a train, the observer being always in now--although this analogy is not perhaps the best.

Then why include it? If the analogy is inadequate, choose a new one. Don't confuse the reader by creating crappy examples.

Hubbard now turns the discussion to the driving forces behind survival: pleasure (shredding this book) and pain (reading this book). To avoid turning this post into a novella, I will just briefly summarize this portion of the chapter. Pleasure is good. Pain is bad. Most of mankind's suffering has come from a suppression of pleasurable things. In fact, is was responsible for the Dark Ages.

Apparently, the above graph also provided evidence for the theory of survival suppressors. These are things which, you guessed it, suppress survival. This includes other organisms, time, the sun, and whatever else might try to kill you or your species. Hubbard notes that there are times when an organism's own actions will either indirectly or directly lead to its own demise. This may not be suicide but the result of depleting resources or some similar action. Hubbard states,
Such things are not intended by the suicide to be suicide; the life form has run up against an equation which has an unknown variable, and the unknown variable unfortunately contained enough value to overload the suppressor. That is the "didn't know the gun was loaded" equation.

As I have asked before, WHAT? There is a didn't-know-the-gun-was-loaded equation? Why not show us? And apparently there are unknown variables inside said equation that "overload the suppressor". I cannot tell if Hubbard is suggesting a mathematical relationship between survival and knowledge of the environment (which would be sensible but most likely impossible to define well) or if he is just trying to sound scientific (my money is on the latter).

After a short reminder of the importance of symbiosis, Hubbard launches into a nonsensical definition of necessity ending in
Driven [emphasis Hubbard]: that is the key to the error [I do not know to what this error refers.]. Driven, things are driven. Necessity drives. Pain drives. Necessity and pain, pain and necessity.
I don't know what to say to that so I will let you interpret that as you see fit (We're getting close to the end of the chapter. I promise).

Hubbard then proceeds to make a scientific claim.
It chances to be a scientific fact that man is a self-determined organism to the outermost limit that any form of life can be, for he still depends upon other forms of life and his general environment.
Well scientific facts require scientific proof. Let's what what's there. Well it looks like Hubbard puts this proof off until later (yet again) but he assures
This is only a scientific fact because it can easily be proven.
Again, nonsense. The difficulty of a proof has nothing to do with its veracity. Look at the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. It's quite difficult but still a mathematic (or scientific) fact.

The close of this chapter again considers pleasure and pain, noting that an abberrated man can "be made to perform like a marionette" which Hubbard equates with being more animal-like.

I would like to end this chapter with Hubbard's words, again asking for proof of their veracity.
If some of these basics of Dianetics were only poetry about the idyllic state of man, they might be justified in that, but it happens that out in the laboratory of the world, they work.

Words Defined: metaphysics, mysticism, militate, procreate, dynamic (here Hubbard admits to making up words, stating, "In order to establish nomenclature in Dianetics which would not be too complex for the purpose, words normally considered as adjectives or verbs have occasionally been pressed into service as nouns."), zygote, tone scale (a scale which shows the emotional tones of a person), debauchery, odor (as in repute; esteem), stigma, pagan, bacillus, Pasturella pestis, symbiotic, specious, affinity, Leucippus, stoic, Bund (a street in Shanghai), idyllic

Next: Chapter 4: The Four Dynamics

Note: All quotes are from
Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, Inc, 1986. The above figure is located on p. 32 of this edition.


Flavin said...

Back when I used to go to a chiropractor, he would use a scale similar to this "tone" business. Except it was for pain.

I did, and still do, get a lot of headaches. The chiropractor would ask me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, at which time I would make up a number. Do I know what a ten feels like? Hell, do I know what a one feels like? Admittedly, a real doctor may do the same thing; however, I hope he or she would couple those subjective evaluations with some sort of objective measurement. My chiropractor did no such thing. He wrote down my made-up number, cracked my back, put me on a massage table (which is always the best part, of course) then sent me out the door.

To me, this is exactly the same as the "tone" scale. You subjectively rate your "mental state" on a meaningless number scale. There is no measurement to be done, no real calibration (hence no units or proper scale on the "graph"), and no context.

Not only is it silly on its face, it is blatantly unfalsifiable.

Ben said...

T applaud you for reading the entirety of this long post.

Prazzie said...

Dear Ben.

Driven: I have been driven. Driven, things are driven. Necessity drives. Pain drives. I have necessarily been driven, due to the pain of trying to make sense of Dianetics, to drink.

Referring to Wiles' proof as "quite difficult" made me smile. It was a great surprise to find a link to such a thing of beauty (which I don't understand but can recognise as such) amidst all the Elron babble.

Ben said...

I was surprised I could find it freely available online and not hidden in a math journal. The interesting thing about that proof is that the mathematics that was used was not developed until the later half of the twentieth century. It makes me thing Fermat didn't have a simple elegant proof in the first place.

Prazzie said...

Yes, I've read Simon Singh's book "Fermat's Last Theorem".

I don't know, maybe Fermat saw what he thought was a solution in a flash of brilliance and then lost it, but wrote of it smugly, feeling certain that he was correct? Who knows. Great tale, nonetheless.

Ben said...

I know the story from watched a Nova special. The man broke into tears talking about his proof. It was both strange and moving simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

Yours are very weak skeptical arguments against Dianetics. You complain about the silliest things and joke (uncleaverly at that) with no real humor. For one thing, the "Tone scale" is a valid "scientific" method of understanding human beings. The simplifying use of terms to better express their meaning is also 'fair' and 'scientific', and the 'labratory of the world' is also a totally valid construct for Dianetics is ABOUT human beings! This is not abstract mathmatical whimsy, but Dianetics and its applications are based upon observations of humanity and our true condition - so that anyone can use our living abilities to great benifit and advantage. One is first challenged to UNDERSTAND It. Bathing in ignorance does not make one clean nor clear.

Anonymous said...

Its called a 'grief charge' too bad the interviewer didn't run it out! He left someincident unrun. I mean, think about it, some man is going to brought to tears over a mathmatical formula? Im sure he worked very hard on it, but if you believe in evolution, humanbeings are pretty tough animals right? So what seems possible is that there is something much more intense painful underlying that grief. Oh, but I am straying into Dianetic theory that is too 'unscientific' thus you can't look there nor are you allowed to even attempt to use it, I consider yourselves lucky to have it availaible to YOU in any form even for ridicule! Nothing wrong with ridicule btw have at it, I'm just trying to do you a personal favor. Don't be so quick to believe we are nothing but a bunch of schlubs.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't seem to move on, here is your request for proof, "I would like to end this chapter with Hubbard's words, again asking for proof of their veracity. "
'If some of these basics of Dianetics were only poetry about the idyllic state of man, they might be justified in that, but it happens that out in the laboratory of the world, they work.'
I think you provide it yourself in the post from "Ben" about seeing the guy tear up on thinking about that formula... you honestly believe he is crying over that? and that touched you? Sympathy was real easy yes? I can tell you that a "grief charge" is one of the most common aspects of case "erased" its caused by a 'secondary' but that is in a later chapter. Advice to you and the reader: You have to LOOK at the world and people around you you will find plenty of veractiy for Dianetics, don't just figure about it, LOOK!