Absolutism is a fine road to stagnation and I do not think Spencer meant to be so entirely absolute about his Knowable and Unknowable. SURVIVE! is the demarcation point between those things which can be experienced by the senses (our old friends Hume and Locke) and those things which cannot necessarily be known through the senses, but which possibly may be known, but which one does not necessarily need to solve the problem.
Among those things which one did not necessarily need to know (the Dianetic version of the Unknowable) were the realms of mysticism and metaphysics. Many things, in the evolution of Dianetics, were bypassed solely because they had not yielded solution to anyone else. Therefore mysticism got short shrift despite the fact that the author studied it, not in the little understood, second-hand sources commonly used as authority by some Western mental cults, but in Asia where a mystic who can’t make his “astral self” get out and run errands for him is strictly a second-rate character indeed. Well aware that there were pieces in this jigsaw puzzle which were orange with yellow spots and purple with carmine stripes, one found it necessary to pick up only those pieces which were germane. Someday a large number of pieces-about structure with the rest-will come in and there will be answers to telepathy, prescience and so on and on. Understand that there are a lot of pieces in the construction of a philosophic universe. But none of the mystic pieces were found necessary to the creation of a uniformly applicable and aberration-resolving science of mind. No opinion will be delivered at this stage of Dianetics about ghosts or the Indian rope trick beyond the fact they are seen to be multicolored pieces and the only ones we want are white. We have most of the white pieces and it makes a good, solid whiteness where there was blackness before.
Imagine, then, the consternation one must have felt when “demons” were discovered. Socrates had a demon, you’ll remember. It told him not what to do, but whether or not he had made the right decision. Here we had been pursuing a course in the finite universe which would have pleased Hume himself for its tenacity to those things which could be sensed. And up popped “demons.”
A thorough examination of a number of subjects (14) revealed that everyone apparently had a “demon” of some sort. They were randomly selected subjects in various conditions in society. Therefore, the “demon” aspect was most alarming. However, unlike some of the cults (or schools as they call themselves), the temptation to sail off into romantic inexplicable and confounding labels was resisted. A bridge had to be built across a canyon and demons are darned bad girders.
Out in the Pacific Islands-Borneo, the Philippines-I had seen quite a bit of demonology at work. Demonology is fascinating stuff. A demon gets into a person and makes him sick. Or it gets in and talks in lieu of him. Or he goes crazy because he has a demon in him and runs around with the demon shouting. This is demonology in a narrow sense. The shaman, the medicine man, these people deal pretty heavily in demonology (it pays well). But, while not skeptical particularly; it had always seemed to me that demons could he explained a little more easily than in terms of ectoplasm or some such unsensible material.
To find “demons” living in one’s civilized fellow countrymen was disturbing. But there they were. At least there were the manifestations which the shaman and medicine man had said were caused by demons. It was found that these “demons” could be cataloged. There were “commanding demons,” “critical demons,” ordinary “tell-you-what-to-say demons” and “demons” which stood around and yelled or “demons” which simply occluded things and kept them out of sight. These are not all the classes, but they cover the general field of”demonology.”
A few experiments with drugged subjects showed that it was possible to set these “demons” up at will. It was even possible to set up the whole analytical mind as a “demon.” So there was something wrong with demonology. Without proper ritual, simply by word of mouth, one could make new demons appear in people. So there are no real demons in Dianetics. (That’s underscored in case some mystic runs around telling people that a new science of mind believes in demons.)
A Dianetic demon is a parasitic circuit. It has an action in the mind which approximates another entity than self. And it is derived entirely from words contained in engrams.1
- Hubbard, L. R. (1950). Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (2007 ed.). Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, Inc. ↩