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Hubbard Was Not A Scholar

L Ron Hubbard was a bright man with a talent for 'sounding' educated. In reality, Hubbard was not well read in the academic subjects he pretended to have mastered. Hubbard was a "cut and paste" scholar, who plagerized encyclopedias and abridged texts to pass himself off as a 'learned man'. According to Hubbard's first wife Sara,

"He was too erratic. He was too neurotic to sit down and study. He never went into anything in depth. He would pick up the jargon. He was a dilletante." Corydon, Bent, Messiah or Madman, p 290

To impress listeners and readers, Hubbard had a constant habit of making false references to philosophers and philosophy. Hubbard bragged that his ideas surpassed all the great thinkers, "name-dropping" individual philosophers to suggest he was deeply familiar with their work. Since most audiences would have little background in philosophy, it's possible Hubbard realized that few would call his claims into question.

It significant that Mr. Hubbard never makes references to original philosophic texts. Given Hubbard's flamboyant ego and penchant to impress audiences, it's hard to imagine him mastering original texts like Plato's "Phaedrus" and NOT referencing them directly.

Whatever knowledge Hubbard had of philosophy was gained by skimming popular books and encylopedias. In fact, Hubbard dedicates his 'magnum opus' "Dianetics" to the historian Will Durant. Durant's popular "Story of Philosophy" is probably the 'source' of much of Hubbard's plagerism of philosophy. Interestingly, LRH's references to philosophy only include 'thinkers' outlined in Durant's work and his indictments of philosophy rarely fall on anyone not included in Durant's book.

It also seems that Hubbard preferred to skim easier textbooks rather than read more in depth works. According to one biographer Hubbard:

"...complained that the contemporary Encyclopaedia Britannica was too difficult for him, it was written by experts for experts, so he used the pre-World War One edition... This parallels his self-confessed method of story research, described in a 1930s article called "Search for Research." He would read the Britannica entry, and then skim through any readily available books referred to in the entry's bibliography." John Atack, Blue Sky, Part 9 Chapter 1, 'The Founder'

Hubbard's limited knowledge of philosophy and his method of co-opting the subject for personal aggrandizement is made clear in these examples from his 1950 lecture, "Science of Knowledge" LRH says:

"Nobody ever bothered to point out to Kant that he too was human, so what he was writing about was obviously way beyond the bounds of his own experience—so of course he couldn’t know anything about it. This reductio ad absurdum of his own argumentation—if somebody had had brains or nerve enough to have done it 162 years ago—would not have left the whole subject of epistemology rotten for 162 years.

Actually the reason Dianetics has suddenly come into this society depends on that pivot point. It is the fact that 162 years ago Hume, Locke and Kant decided that they were going to delineate the basic laws of all philosophy and particularly epistemology. And when they got through, it was so resounding, and everybody was so frightened, that nobody thought for 162 years in this field."

These two paragraphs reveal Hubbard's typical 'm.o.' Setting up famous thinkers as a "straw men", Hubbard claims the superiority of his work, "Dianetics". Inevitably, Hubbard's factual references to Hume, Locke, and Kant are are incorrect and mis-leading.

Immanuel Kant never 'teamed up' with Hume and Locke attempting "to delineate the basic laws of philosophy". David Hume and John Locke were 'empiricists' distrustful of Kant's "metaphysical" approaches. This is an unlikely 'three horse parlay' and it's doubtful that any one was ever "frightened" by these philosophers.

Hubbard's "Science of Knowledge" continues:

"Therefore we have 162 years of accumulated data which has never been sorted out. You pick up 162 years of accumulated data, integrate it and give it a good solid testing, and you can’t help but come up with something that will practically shake the society, because you have 162 years of backlog of smart people. Yet not one of them had ever thrown away formalized epistemology. They were still in the state of mind of “the laws have all been drawn up on this so we’re not going to touch it anymore.”

Hubbard's unendingly indicts philosophy for failing to perfect society. Hubbard misrepresents philosophers, throughout history, as somehow holding the reigns of power. Using this conceit, Hubbard presents himself as the first 'philosopher' to solve the world's problems.

Ironically, in the period Hubbard cites in these paragraphs, Philosophy had a rather profound impact. In the 162 years comprising the 19th and early 20th century, radical changes in political structures, social organization, concepts of democracy, ideas about materialism, individual rights, jurisprudence, etc. -- were fostered by such thinkers as: Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, J. S. Mill, Arthur Schopenhaur, S. Kierkegard, Frederiech Nietzsche, Auguste Comte, William James, Ludwig Wittgenstein, E. Durkheim, F. H. Bradley, to name a few.

It's notable that Mr. Hubbard's guiding principle for Scientology, "The Greatest Good For The Greatest Number of Dynamics" is plagerized from Jeremy Bentham's 'battle cry' of "Utilitarianism" -- "Greatest Good For The Greatest Number". Bentham and J.S. Mill's 'normative ethics' had enormous influence on the laws and institutions of western society in the period Hubbard denigrates.

Additionally, Karl Marx and Charles Darwin lived during those "162 years". It rather hard to picture these men as the stuck-in-the-mud, backwards thinkers Hubbard describes as:

"still [stuck] in the state of mind of 'the laws have all been drawn up on this so we’re not going to touch it anymore"

Still, according to Hubbard, the failed notions of these "162 years" became "a pivot point" and the "...reason Dianetics has suddenly come into this society..." To further bolster his own superiority Hubbard goes on to bash every thinker from the period proclaiming:

"if somebody had had brains or nerve enough to have done it 162 years ago—[they] would not have left the whole subject of epistemology rotten for 162 years."

All those years, philosophic 'epistemology' had been waiting for Mr. Hubbard to push aside Karl Marx aside and (in Tom Cruises's words) "clean this place up"!

Mr. Hubbard's essay "Science of Knowledge" typifies the manner in which Mr. Hubbard manipulates the subject of philosophy to elevate himself and the false claims of Scientology. Hubbard 'name-drops' a 'famous thinker' and then fabricates a rhetoric to enlarge his own point.

Mr. Hubbard's references to philosophy are rarely accurate and always superificial. For a man pushing a reputation for profound intellect, there is startlingly little evidence to his reading habits. There are no footnotes in "Dianetics" or other books Hubbard wrote. There are only three serious texts mentioned in the many Hubbard biographies, Machiavelli's "The Prince", Alfred Korzybski's "General Semantics" and several essays by Sigmund Freud (and it's not certain he read these).

Hubbard's favorite reading material, which he devoured voraciously, were the pulp fiction novels in the genre he authored.

The only subject Hubbard studied lifelong and closely, appear to be 'magic' and the 'occult.' 'On the lam' in the 1980's, Hubbard spent many hours in the Library of Congress researching occult materials. Hubbard was also a devout follower of the Satanist, Aleister Crowley. Hubbard read and referenced Crowley's writings throughout his lifetime.

Aside from these works, the evidence suggests that Mr. Hubbard was a collater of encyclopedia articles and reference texts. Biographer, John Atack said of Hubbard:

"He would read the Britannica entry, and then skim through any readily available books referred to in the entry's bibliography. The story had to be written in a couple of days, so research had to be fast. Whole sections of Scientology also seem to have been fashioned in this way. The original Dianetic techniques can be derived almost entirely from three short Freud lectures" John Atack, Blue Sky, Part 9 Chapter 1, 'The Founder'

Former accolyte, Bent Corydon wrote of Hubbard,

"... the extent to which he borrowed from others-"cut and pasted"-takes much of the luster from his claims of originality." Messiah of Madman? Bent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. a.k.a. Ronald DeWolf p 270

In actuality, throughout most of his life, Hubbard had little time to read academic texts. He spent countless hours writing pulp fiction, as well as voluminous tracts and policy letters pertinent to Scientology. Hubbard was a driven entrepreneur, traveling, giving lectures, and promoting his money making ventures. He was also a 'hands on' manager of his enterprises and rarely delegated much authority to others. These activities, along with Hubbard's lifelong drug abuse, mitigate against the likelihood that he devoted much time to study.

Hubbard was a promoter. A man with abundant energy, a vivid imagination, and a relentless drive to succeed. These qualities are not generally characteristic of a devout scholar. Hubbard was not a scholar and not even especially well read. Caroline Lettke wrote that Hubbard 'cobbled up' whatever ideas he found and that's probably the best summation of the "intellectual"

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