I have been engaged in the investigation of the fundamentals of life, the material universe and human behavior,” wrote L. Ron Hubbard of his larger philosophic journey towards Dianetics and Scientology, and proceeded to reference a search “down many highways, through many byroads, into many back alleys of uncertainty.” In a further explanation of that search is the introduction and first chapter to a retrospective, “The Rediscovery of the Human Soul.”
Begun in 1956, but never completed, the manuscript effectively tells of all that preceded what appears in this publication. As a word of general background, let us add a few salient points: Although events recounted here mark the commencement of Ron’s philosophic search, he had previously spent several years, as he elsewhere put it, “poking an inquisitive mind” into related fields. Of special note, were his early psychoanalytic studies with United States Naval Commander Joseph Cheeseman Thompson, who, incidentally, had been the first United States military officer to study under Freud in Vienna, and among the first to enter Freudian theory into the field of ethnology. Also bearing mention was Ron’s very early friendship with the deeply spiritual Blackfeet tribesmen in and around his home in Montana, and what amounted to folkloric studies with a locally famous medicine man. The point, in both cases: well before his arrival at George Washington University, Ron had pondered much. Finally, and as referenced here, Ron had also spent nearly two years in a prerevolutionary China and, in fact, had been among the first Westerners after Marco Polo to gain entrance into forbidden Tibetan lamaseries scattered through the southern hills of Manchuria.
Regarding “The Rediscovery of the Human Soul,” let us add that in referencing the “formidable and slightly mad” chief of George Washington University’s Psychology Department, he is actually speaking of Dr. Fred August Moss, infamous among students for trick questions and the running of rats through gruesome electrical mazes. Meanwhile the “very famous psychiatrist” who reviews Ron’s calculations on human memory capacity was none other than William Alanson White, then superintendent of Washington, DC’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and still celebrated for his outspoken opposition to psychosurgery. Most importantly, however, let us simply understand this: In recalling his work through these years, and particularly his efforts to isolate the repository of human memory, he was factually raising a crucial philosophic question. That is, when we attempt to explain all human memory in terms of purely physical phenomena, we will ultimately find ourselves staring at the singular flaw in the whole of the Western scientific creed. Namely, no diagram of the human brain can account for all we are capable of remembering (much less imagining). It was not for nothing, then, that William Alanson White remarked, in response to Ron’s memory calculations, “You have just laid to waste the entire foundation of psychiatric and neurological theory.”
Today, of course, psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists et al., continue to turn themselves inside out in an effort to propose theories broad enough to explain human memory in purely physical terms. (One of the latest involves a model of nonlocalized, or scattered memory traces along synaptic contacts so that memories are superimposed upon one another, while another holds that memory is recreated through dynamic neural interplay.) But in either case, questions Ron posed in 1932 are still not answerable within a wholly material context. Hence the increasingly frequent admissions from the scientific community that perhaps, after all, as Ron puts it, “man, as a learned whole, knew damned little about the subject.”1
- CSI. (n.d.) On the Rediscovery of the Human Soul. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20130603223102/http://www.ronthephilosopher.org/phlspher/page26.htm ↩