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The Nature of Theory


Definition of 'theory' 1

On Theory and Interests. 2


Definition of 'theory'

>After all the word "theory," implies something that needs testing or proof, ... So to postulate this theory [the entheogen theory of the origin of religion], one is really attempting to convince others in an academic mode.

That's not as true as you say.


A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture. [Late Latin theria, from Greek theri, from theros, spectator  : probably the, a viewing + -oros, seeing (from horn, to see).][F. th['e]orie, L. theoria, Gr. ? a beholding, spectacle, contemplation, speculation, fr. ? a spectator, ? to see, view. See Theater.]

1. A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice; hypothesis; speculation.

Note: ``This word is employed by English writers in a very loose and improper sense. It is with them usually convertible into hypothesis, and hypothesis is commonly used as another term for conjecture. The terms theory and theoretical are properly used in opposition to the terms practice and practical. In this sense, they were exclusively employed by the ancients; and in this sense, they are almost exclusively employed by the Continental philosophers.'' --Sir W. Hamilton.

2. An exposition of the general or abstract principles of any science; as, the theory of music.

3. The science, as distinguished from the art; as, the theory and practice of medicine.

4. The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral; as, Lavoisier's theory of combustion; Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments.

Atomic theory, Binary theory, etc. See under Atomic, Binary, etc.

Syn: Hypothesis, speculation.

Usage: Theory, Hypothesis. A theory is a scheme of the relations subsisting between the parts of a systematic whole; an hypothesis is a tentative conjecture respecting a cause of phenomena.

n 1: an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "true in fact and theory" 2: a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena; "he proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices" [syn: hypothesis, possibility] 3: a belief that can guide behavior; "the architect has a theory that more is less"; "they killed him on the theory that dead men tell no tales"

"Theory" has two meanings, as the definitions indicate: "hypothesis", and "systematic model".  I'm not so much a philosopher or theologian or mystic, as a theorist and a constructer of models.

These factors you list are mostly just transient artifacts of a temporary cultural situation.  The culture treated the materials as a toy but as a serious religious trigger as well.  Even though most individuals disparaged entheogens after using them in the 1960s, the fact remains that religion was an unsurpassed theme.  Also, *always ask* how today's prohibition is distorting your apparent data and evidence. 

How can anyone know whether "most people" who used entheogens now disparage them?  That's selective reporting bias.  This culture promotes negative public statements about entheogens, so you'll hear lots of those, and punishes positive statements about entheogens, so you'll not hear many of those.

A list of reasons for entheogen users later disparaging and belittling entheogens should begin with the most forceful reason: the chilling forces of prohibition.

dc/rialcnis wrote:

>We are always dealing with the general connotation of a word, when communciating to people. Non-experienmced people are by far a majority.  The word "theory," even among scinetists, generally means something being asserted, that is not yet accepted as fact, because it is not yet proven to them.  Of course the only way to REALLY prove this "theory," is for people to have the experience themselves.  Then they know it is no longer just a "theory."  Whatever technical definitions of a word, one may use, if the mind set of the person you are communicating with,  uses the word to mean a theory  that is proposed but not accepted yet, then they want to see proof.  In this case all the documentary or theoretical proofs are just considered speculative, unles they too can share the experience.  For instance, trying to explain gravity to people who always lived in weightlessness, would require many words, and formulas, but not until  someone falls under the sway of gravity how could they understand it?  Very few people are equipped to understand what they have not yet experienced, no matter how exceptional the explanations.  To ask people to accept what one says on blind faith, is what most religions have tried to do.

>For a person with a little bit of help and guiding, to totally change their view about entheogens, would require a large dose and a little bravery and seeking mind.  First find brave people, then find those with a seeking mind.  That is asking alot from the kind of  population that we fo=ind around us.

>Even in the 60's with many people experimenting, only a small percentage of those experimenters, 10 years later, would defend the use of entheogens.  I knew many people who had semi-heavy experiences, but ten years later they were party people doing budweiser and coke and 20 or 30 years later they repudiate Entheogens, as though their experiences meant nothing.  Some one had written (I don't remember who) that 2-4% percent of people who experiemented with Entheogens in the sixites, had the kind of life changing experience that they would say were religious experiences. Most of them, even those who became religious due to LSD experience, tend to deny that entheogens as just temporary--they buy into the guru chatter about "real" meditation, or later actually denouce it as "drug induced," fantasy.

>To me their were many reasons for this.  Dosage, polypharmacy-- washing down "acid" with budweisers. Rolling donuts across the floor at Winchells Donuts instead of focusing while using the entheogen, distractions, inability to let go of ego, setting, etc.  all those things.

On Theory and Interests

The most important measure for me, as the person who has to exert energy to think and research, has always been the progress of my own understanding.  Extreme solipsism: I assume no one else exists to read this.  Nothing stops anyone from eavesdropping.

I wrote about the doubtful significance of my poll about what people want to read.  If I am currently obsessed with schizophrenia and read and post about that subject, that will attract people interested in that subject, who find my views worth reading.  That self-selected audience would then vote "we'd like to see schizophrenia covered" at my poll.  So I have to take the poll results with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, due to the controversial nature of the 3 main topics I'm connecting, I can never know my audience.  Suppose Douglas Hofstadter sees my material and is excited because his true secret interests that motivated Godel Escher Bach are determinism, entheogens, and the Christ myth.  Do you think he would join this publically visible discussion group and post?  Highly unlikely.  I not only write to an android audience, but an android audience that is silent and invisible of practical necessity.  This writing is then a public soliloquy for an unseen and possibly absent audience.

When writing online, I have always (for ten years) ignored personal particulars, anyway, to avoid petty socializing (flame wars and conformist chit-chat).  I have always written in an impersonal, free-form article style, with a consistently mixed result of "amazing, the best posting I have ever read" and complaints that, in the end, amount to vague gripes about my throwing out the unwritten rulebook of conformity of style, posting frequency and regularity, length, and personal niceties.

With rare exceptions that just prove the rule, people don't care to read even the most perfect and profound writings about ego death.  Most people don't read anything at all ever, period.  A stoic apathy is required.  I'm prepared to be in complete disagreement with every last person, and additionally for everyone to have not the slightest interest.  I write to know, not to be read, though I intend to make clear writing available in case I forget and want to re-learn the ideas by buying my book. 

I have a deep respect for those who care not.  They are my most helpful audience.  Next comes those who are in complete disagreement -- they've helped me the most.  Those who agree are useless and contribute nothing.  What did Freke and Gandy do for me?  Nothing, they simply agreed with me.  What use is that?  It was a waste of time.


For the official record, however: they disagreed with all my ideas and insisted I just have to drop my interest in determinism and entheogens and study Literalist Christianity.  In fact, they've become born-again Baptists, confessing the Historical, Supernatural Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  "Don't forget, brother," they said as we parted, pressing some Jack Chick tracts into my hand, "Hell is hot, and eternity is a long time!"


But you lose some and win some; Jack Chick converted from Literalist Supernaturalist Protestantism to entheogenic Gnosticism, when he discovered that Amanita is the true flesh of Christ and learned to turn water into wine himself.  In these tracts, he explains how Christianity began as a 2-level system of transformation from Literalist to Mythic/Mystic Christianity, a transformation into true and complete salvation from sin by obediently eating, and then drinking, the sacrament of apolytrosis (redemption):





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