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Re: Money, argument, logic

May 27, 1997 04:05 PM
by Bart Lidofsky

K. Paul Johnson wrote:
> According to
> As the subject has advanced from the morality of fees to the
> method of argument, I'll continue one more round here.  Hope
> this clarifies some things.
> >
> >       I am being told that the behavior of my Lodge is wrong.
> Actually, it was Seattle that was first mentioned as an example
> of fees for public lectures.  Everyone piled on then, before or
> simultaneous to your revelation that NYC did the same.  Mostly
> in support of Long Beach's policy of *not* charging.

	I mentioned it first, then Tom. There was some discussion about some of
his beliefs about what it means to have money, but one thing that was
made abundantly clear was that many thought that once a Lodge started
charging fees for anything, it is no longer a Theosophical Lodge and
should shut itself down as a failure. I was naturally upset by what I
saw as an attempt to impose a dogma. Certainly some were more guilty
than others, but when one is being called everything from avaricious to
a black magician, one tends not to be as careful about degrees.

> There is no way to logically prove a moral principle.

	Yes and no. That is actually an excellent subject for discussion, and,
when I recover from this, I may start it up. Briefly, though, all moral
principles break down to axioms, and logical theorems based on those
axioms. This is the basis of any logical system. Therefore, moral
principles beyond the axioms CAN be logically proven, provided that the
same set of axioms are accepted by those applying the logic. And I'm
certain that there are SOME moral axioms on which we can all agree, here
(the unity of the human family, for one).

> I don't
> like being called (by implication) a fraudulent trickster,
> having had this done publicly by a high TS official.

	There is a difference between using the tactics of a reprehensible
group, and being a member of that group (note that said tactics are not
part of what makes the group reprehensible, then the accusation is in
itself reprehensible). When I accuse someone of using the tactics, I am
warning the person that s/he is getting close to the line. If I feel
they have stepped over the line, then I state it outright. When I state
that you (or anybody else) are using the tactics of a fraud, then I am
also stating, by implication, that I do NOT believe that you (or the one
whom I am accusing) ARE a fraud. If I believed that, I would state it
outright. By pointing out the invalid tactics, I am hoping that the
person whom I am accusing will see what they are doing, and drop those
tactics, or explain to me why the tactics are valid.

> Precisely.  One can use persuasion, by appealing to people's
> basic assumptions, to get them to adopt one's moral position.
> One can never prove it logically.  I could not *prove* to you
> that human sacrifice at lodge meetings is wrong.

	Remind me to use that one as an example when I start the topic on
morality and logic.

> WHOA.  I certainly was not attacking you.  If you recall, I
> said that the ARE (for which I generally have much higher
> regard than the TS, especially the Adyar/Wheaton TS) really
> falls down in my estimation in the commercialism department.  I
> am quite willing to criticize orgs that I identify with when
> they behave in ways that violate their own principles.  I also
> headed a post "New York Special Case?" and suggested that
> lodges with high overhead might *have* to charge fees.  (Which
> still doesn't make it desirable IMO.)  Seems
> like you identify so closely with the NYC lodge or the
> Wheaton/Adyar TS that you feel personally attacked when people
> disagree with something it does.  That only brings unnecessary
> pain and strife.

	Not in all cases, but in parts in which I am intimately involved, yes.

> What I meant was (and this comes from observing the ARE) that
> people start with the idea that it's OK to charge in order to
> cover costs, and then they start deciding what programs to
> offer, books to publish, etc. based on what brings in the most cash.  > Money corrupts the process by which an organization defines itself.

	Unless the programs that charge money are specifically put in place to
finance the programs that don't. Or at least, less so.

> Serious discussion need not be solely logical.  Serious
> discussion of moral issues can *use* logic, and should not use
> *illogic* but can never be purely logical.


> Yes.  I did expect less.  I never got explanations or defenses
> of where people were coming from.  With my handful of
> "adversaries" (of whom only one was active on theos-l for long)
> I allowed myself to be put in the position of 100% defensive,
> and allowed my antagonist to be 100% the prosecutor, judge and
> jury.  If I ever did ask "Why are you doing this?  Where are
> you coming from?  What do *you* conclude about the Masters'
> identities?  What's your evidence?" the immediate response was
> "the issue isn't me, it's you and your book."  Another former friend of this
> person later wrote me "He asks a hundred questions and never
> answers one."

	Well, that is what I felt was happening to me, here. I am deeply
grateful to Eldon Tucker, who managed to, as a neutral party, cut
through all the bull to get to the real issues.


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