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View Full Version : What is Leary going on about?


seeker
02-26-2003, 06:04 AM
Think for yourself
Question authority

Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening,
terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in
this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the
religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by
giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their
view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and
learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness;
chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself.

Think for yourself.
Question authority.

This has got to be the most used Tool cliche, on and off of these forums. I have witnessed many people using it out of context, without reflecting on the rest of what Leary said. I'll attempt to identify specific variants of the phrase's misuse.

*Many people use it as an excuse to be unruly, regurgitating the words "question authority" as if it were the express permission of an all-powerful being to disregard the rules.

*Other people spout "think for yourself" every time another person expresses dissenting views on an interpretation.

*There are those who defecate the words "think for yourself" to put themselves on a mental pedestal overlooking all who confess to being religious.

*Finally, there exist some folks who belch forth "think for yourself, question authority" in attempt to put forth the bandmembers' views to show that "Tool is on MY side!"

I think a good deal of the people frequenting the boards have the intellectual capacity to see for themselves how far off these misuses are, so I'm not going to extrapolate on them individually. I will attempt to offer an interpretation of Timothy Leary's intentions, however.

His words between the cliche serve to flesh out the idea. By describing the system of social standards as it has evolved throughout our history, he is showing that, as social creatures, we human beings have come to be very dependant on those whom we have elected or appointed as our leaders. Leary is encouraging us to disembark from dependence upon their ideals when he says "think for yourself, question authority", and he is not urging us to become anarchists. Neither is he saying to abandon religion or quit school. All he is saying is that we should not accept information based on the fact that those with authority are providing it. Students should research on their own if they care enough to do so. Religious people should find truth within themselves and question the preacher's words before applying anything he says. Ironically, those who misuse the term and vomit it forth every time they get the chance are merely making examples of what it is to be sheep-minded.

I doubt this'll have any impact on the misuse of Leary's words, but I am interested to know if anyone agrees with me. Let's get a debate going here

jpmanson
02-26-2003, 11:19 PM
i definately agree with you, i have noticed a lot of peopel using this phrase against religion, and then just spouting off information that was fed to them in school, i always found that to be amusing..

anyway, great post..

seeker
02-27-2003, 04:25 AM
thanks, i thought this post was going to fade into oblivion since it's not about bodily functions.

4th Eye
02-27-2003, 04:56 AM
Originally posted by seeker
All he is saying is that we should not accept information based on the fact that those with authority are providing it.

Agreed.
But it's kinda hard to think for yourself and not to accept authority's information when you've been influenced by authorities all your life.

"...it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality."

What if the authorities wouldn't been comforting us? What if no one wouldn't been telling us any kind of information or thoughts about who we are or where we are going? How would we think then? I'm not questioning everything that authorities have told me nor i'm believing everything.

"To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself."

How am I going to do that? Sometimes when I try to think deeply and for myself I just end up noticing "hmm, this isn't my thought". My head is full of thoughts which aren't mine. How am I going to put myself in a state of vulnerability and open-mindedness?

Blah, my head is blank again.....

futile
02-27-2003, 05:56 PM
i did have a really good reply, but my comp froze and i had to close the window. its too long to remember so ill just say: yes i agree

keep an open mind, dont judge others, and dont allow ur emotions to speak for you.

thats basically what i was going to say. only about 5 paragraphs longer.

Metalanarchist
03-04-2003, 01:03 PM
I would say that Leary is not urging people to be anarchists, but then again he is not telling you NOT to be one either. That is for you to determine after you immeerse yourself in that place of confused vulnerability. The same goes for religion and school _Leary is neither supporting nor tearing down these institutions, merely throwing out a word of caution, that people tend to accept what they say at face value without questioning _something we are seeing a lot of in the current political situation.

If you are like me, who has undergone a years-long and continuing process of critical examination of political and religious beliefs and observed the sheer number of official lies or statements made that demand one's faith rather than presenting a factual basis, you might very well become an anarchist, or someone who questions authority to the point where you think there is no justification for some people to have power over others and control what they think or do.

The most important thing is to learn exactly what an authority is saying, and first try to understand it on your own terms. Then one should seek out opposing views and hold the two (or more) together and see which view withstands the most scrutiny. Then you can refine your own PROVISIONAL opinion, and continue along your search for truth, because none of us will ever arrive there, but we can always keep pushing and learning more and more.

George Bush Sr.
03-04-2003, 03:51 PM
What kind of debate do you plan on having?

seeker
03-05-2003, 04:43 AM
Originally posted by George Bush Sr.
What kind of debate do you plan on having?

Not a political one. I meant to get one started about Leary's little speech... There are so many people who, in my opinion, misuse it (and dogmatically misuse it) that I wanted to bring that to light. If anyone disagrees with my points of misuse, or if anyone wants to add to it, etc. that would be welcome. Ideally, we could debate the topic and end some of the broad misuse of it, at least get people to apply it rather than regurgitate it.... I dunno, I'm probably being too optimistic.

Vile1011
03-17-2003, 09:33 AM
So many people seem to think that "Questioning authority" means totally abandoning it.

Tool never told us why we should think for ourselves or question authority. I found my own reasons, simply put questioning authority brings to light its flaws, thus allowing authority to improve itself. In an ideal world at least...

"Thinking for yourself" is almost meaningless. All of us have no choice but to accept most of what others have learned and discovered as fact. If all of us had to reinvent the wheel ourselves the human race would go nowhere. Sometimes people who rant about "thinking for themselves" seem to think that everyone should lock themselves into their own world and not absorb anything from anyone. (but then they say we should be open-minded). We can't perfectly distinguish fact from fiction, so there really is no option but to believe most of what your told and then go on from there. As you learn more you'll be better able to weed out false information, but you'll never be able to achieve truth on your own.

frankzeppelin
03-21-2003, 12:52 PM
Originally posted by Vile1011
So many people seem to think that "Questioning authority" means totally abandoning it.

Tool never told us why we should think for ourselves or question authority. I found my own reasons, simply put questioning authority brings to light its flaws, thus allowing authority to improve itself. In an ideal world at least...

"Thinking for yourself" is almost meaningless. All of us have no choice but to accept most of what others have learned and discovered as fact. If all of us had to reinvent the wheel ourselves the human race would go nowhere. Sometimes people who rant about "thinking for themselves" seem to think that everyone should lock themselves into their own world and not absorb anything from anyone. (but then they say we should be open-minded). We can't perfectly distinguish fact from fiction, so there really is no option but to believe most of what your told and then go on from there. As you learn more you'll be better able to weed out false information, but you'll never be able to achieve truth on your own.

Andy DV
03-23-2003, 01:43 PM
First off, I think this is a great post and you, seeker, had some very interesting points. I feel what you are saying could be correct, but I wouldn't put it past Leary to have meant a more radical concept. I personally definately agree with your statements, though.

As to frankzeppelin's comments, I totally agree that to literally "Think for one's self" is impossible, since the sheer act of thought includes gathering past experiences and making a chain of logical conclusions (In my opinion at least, I'm no psychologist).

I feel the entire song, especially the signature lines "prying open my third eye" is when one is finally capable of "Thinking for yourself" and reaching a new level of consciousness and open-mindedness, not just following the "authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules,regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality." Dr. Leary said it best.

As for the former Bill Hicks version, I feel it was very appropriate for the theme of the Aenima album. But for 'Third Eye' as an independent diety, Nothing does it more justice that Leary's words. Thanks for reading.

Typx
03-23-2003, 03:11 PM
I don't have anything to add to this but I would just like to thank Seeker for creating an intelligent thread, they are far too rare on this messageboard lately.

themazi
04-06-2003, 07:57 AM
I loathe people who dislike or overly criticize information just because it is given (note, not spoonfed you cockmongers) to them by official/authoritary sources. The point is that you should have some kind of filter in ALL income plugs.

Nice post man.

LearnedStudent
04-22-2003, 01:51 PM
Most Tool fans seem to be "thinking for themself" only because the band told them to. Listening to a rock band does not equal intelligence or independent thought.

Apocalypse2moro
05-06-2003, 06:55 PM
i was wandering around for more info on this sort of thing (the leary speech) and found this:

http://www.brocku.ca/english/jlye/ideology.html

very interesting, thought yall might wanna c it.

dawn
05-06-2003, 07:04 PM
I could have swore that I made a post in here when the thread was new...anyway...this statement embodies a trend of nonconformity...Sprite is telling me to obey my thirst...nike says just do it......Dr. Pepper is telling me to just be me and do what I do...all the freaks are common place...I remember a day when a pierced nosed was soooo different...it was unheard of for a guy to wear dresses and make up...but today....everybody is different...just like every body else...I move to create a conformist movement to counter act all that pop culture has destroyed...

...All in favor?...

seeker
05-07-2003, 05:35 AM
change who? nah, i don't much care to worry about anyone but myself and the immediate present... until i rely on all these outsiders to make my money, i won't even think about it... then again, a receptive audience can never hurt a new author.

Adrenalin
05-08-2003, 02:30 AM
so...tool can also be called an authority?id say yes..if ppl tend to follow them blindly.ill try quoting maynard in hooker with a penis singing ''im the man and youre the man as well..'' and by that i mean that we're all authorities (or part of one)in some way.so one could say that the author is pushing as to reflect upon our own beliefs as well as those that those above as (named as authorities) might have provided us so far.religion is a difficult matter to discuss and so is politics..i say that we (or i) would better stick to ones opinion for him/myself than trying to change others opinions....
..as for the misuse,although i agree with you,i have to bring to light the fact that you too dont know in what way the user of the phrase ment it...instead of them misusing it you might have misjudged it.i meen not to offend you in any way..i just state the facts!!

question authority?why the hell no?
think for yourself?we all think we do,but do we?

seeker
05-08-2003, 02:54 AM
Originally posted by Adrenalin
..as for the misuse,although i agree with you,i have to bring to light the fact that you too dont know in what way the user of the phrase ment it...instead of them misusing it you might have misjudged it.i meen not to offend you in any way..i just state the facts!!

question authority?why the hell no?
think for yourself?we all think we do,but do we?

if i had specified an example of someone's misuse then your statements might make sense, but the nature of my speculation lends itself to simple conversation... and to tell you the truth, i wasn't specifically thinking of anyone when i came up with my "ways to misuse the quote". so there! (no offense taken)

Adrenalin
05-08-2003, 03:16 AM
ok then...

has anyone read the book?i was interested in finding it but thats not too easy where i live at....i think reading it might explain some facts..

Opium of the Masses
09-09-2003, 07:11 PM
"Neither is he saying to abandon religion or quit school."

Actually, Timothy Leary's catch phrase was
"Tune in, Turn on, Drop out"

He is absolutely saying quit school. He also suggested that people move away from cities and live with nature, as living in a large American city is "spiritual suicide".

Someone also made a comment that listening to Tool doesnt make you a free thinker - I agree. However, at least in New Zealand every (real) Tool fan I've met has been an intelligent and thoughtful individual, with ideas and opinions of their own. Remember that there's a reason you're a fan, and many others are fans - Tool challenges listeners to think about things in a different way, and this garauntees a select audience.

praga
09-10-2003, 10:09 AM
well, well, well

You have to remember you're talking about a man who took a LOT of acid. when you're on acid, there really is no authority...you brain hardly comprehends reality, much less someone else's take on it. I personally 'think for myself' everytime i have to take a shit, so unless he's talking about that kinda thinking, you pretty much take other people's word for a lot of things. Now, if you want to stretch the idea away from the social confines that humans have created, there are ways to look at things without preconcived notions. when someone genuinely begins a peice of art, they don't try and limit themselves to what's been created before, instead they allow for the unknown.

Ruling out the unknown can and will be the downfall of modern man

we have so many "rules" that are just merely the smartest guy in the room's opinion. or maybe we just voted him the smartest, or he just claimed on his resume that he was the smartest.

maybe what should be taken from this yappage from ol' Tim and the relationship to the song is that we must keep our eyes/ears/minds open to what is unknown without being affraid of it.

fuck it, my authority seems to be my bill collectors in my life :/

oh, please define a "real" Tool fan...is that one that paid for the album instead of downloading/stealing/sharing it for free?
or is it one that sings really loud when Manyard says....
"Why can't we all be sober?"

Opium of the Masses
09-10-2003, 04:33 PM
By a "real" Tool fan I mean someone who not only listens to the music, but also the lyrics, and tries to take in the messages and interpret them. Tool is all about expanding your mind and learning new ways of thinking so that you can experience reality in way you havent thought of, and the kind of people that actually seek to do that are "real" Tool fans.

Owning the albums probably helps, the artwork and track orders on Tool albums are alot more important than some other bands.

Torpid_Prey
12-03-2003, 02:12 PM
everyone has crontol of their actions, and its really up to us what we do with them. Hence why he is allowing us the opportunity to think for ourselves... not many people actually get that kind of chance, because few people allow it these days. "I want it done and i want it Now!"

*** ']['orpid Prey ***

AllforUnity
12-13-2003, 12:46 AM
l agree. Same with any band.

imtheism
12-18-2003, 03:36 AM
"Neither is he saying to abandon religion or quit school."

Actually, Timothy Leary's catch phrase was
"Tune in, Turn on, Drop out"

He is absolutely saying quit school. He also suggested that people move away from cities and live with nature, as living in a large American city is "spiritual suicide".

This I disagree with. To me that quote is saying if you spend all your time listening the the radio or tv, or generally spending a lot of time listening to everything others feed you - you're as finished as a high school (or worse) drop out. He's saying when you take others words without criticizing them, your intellectual expansion is ending. Maybe drop out as in joining the ranks of the mindless masses (which is caused by tuning in and turning on). Then again, I've not read much of his work.

The original phrase doesn't make sense with how you're trying to use it. You have to use the phrase in it's entirety, not just one section of it. Funny how in a thread about butchering this man's lyrics/words, someone managed to do it again with a different phrase of his.

That being said, I agree with the first post, and most the subsequent ones.

Skinshifter01
01-19-2004, 01:34 PM
"...simply put questioning authority brings to light its flaws, thus allowing authority to improve itself. In an ideal world at least...
We can't perfectly distinguish fact from fiction, so there really is no option but to believe most of what your told and then go on from there. As you learn more you'll be better able to weed out false information, but you'll never be able to achieve truth on your own."

I completely agree with that - throughout our history, these said authorities have been feeding us information so that we don't freak out, but they've been leaving stuff out. All the way back to the creation of the bible. The bible was written by King James (?) for the first time in our language (latin). When it was translated, though, some of the words were changed. For instance, a man by a name that escapes me at this moment was taken into heaven on chariots of fire - or so the King James version reads. But in the Hebrew version of the Torah, this said man just erupted into flame and was carried into heaven.

King James was trying to simplify what happened to this man so that common and privileged folk alike could understand what was going on. And that's not bad, but in order for people to understand what really happened to that man, they would have to question King James and his translation (question authority) in order to.

Basically what I'm saying here is that the authorities simplify stuff so that we don't freak out, and Timothy Leary is telling us to question these simplified stories - to question the authorities and maybe freak out once we get as far down as we plan to go.

Stalkz
02-18-2004, 04:32 AM
Agreed.
But it's kinda hard to think for yourself and not to accept authority's information when you've been influenced by authorities all your life.

"...it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality."

What if the authorities wouldn't been comforting us? What if no one wouldn't been telling us any kind of information or thoughts about who we are or where we are going? How would we think then? I'm not questioning everything that authorities have told me nor i'm believing everything.

"To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself."

How am I going to do that? Sometimes when I try to think deeply and for myself I just end up noticing "hmm, this isn't my thought". My head is full of thoughts which aren't mine. How am I going to put myself in a state of vulnerability and open-mindedness?

Blah, my head is blank again.....



That's where the differences come in. On one side you have "comfirting you by giving you order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality.", and on another side you have "Giving you information in an objective manner and letting you decide for yourself, using your natural instincts, not diminishing those instincts, and building your mind by giving you the opportunity to use your own thought process to make a decision".


Everyone's got an agenda. What you need to do is get your own before someone puts theirs into you.

AllforUnity
02-19-2004, 12:44 PM
Well yeah...life is easier when you don't have to think of everything by yourself...people are so lazy, it's just easier being told what to do. lt's getting quite bad, actually...l don't get it. lt's like...when someone is told to do something, they'll actually (or might actually) do it...but if it's up to them to do it, to wait for it...most people will procrastinate until the very last second before it should be done. Hmph.

iampete
03-07-2004, 05:18 AM
i guess i agree with most everything said, but i think there may well be a bit more to it than that which im struggling with. given though i know very little about timothy leary. but i guess (in my opinion), that maynard used the quote to say 'think before you swallow' and try to be original and form your own veiws on life, religion, art etc, and again there's always 'all indians, no chiefs.'

AllforUnity
03-08-2004, 12:47 PM
This Thread could go on forever.

AllforUnity
03-09-2004, 11:05 PM
That's interesting.

Demon Cleaner
03-16-2004, 01:01 PM
nice analysis...


btw have you head whole learys "how to operate your brain"?

Oeps
10-13-2004, 11:07 AM
Very interesting posts out here.
I guess this 'part' of the speech has much to do with the vision of both Marx as Hobbes. Their interpretation on reality and on the modern human species. Both combined and the view of larry added concludes in this speech.
Hobbes stated that before their were states all humans lived in a natural state, which was lead by nobody and had no authority. Because there was no authority every one was free but at the same time vulnerable for everything around them (killing wasn't wrong) People were a-moral and there was a constante state of war from everyone against every one. Humans had however some natural rights; including the right/will to live, therefore they decided to form a social contract with each other, stating the state. (from here I'll give my own interpretation) The state however mis-used their power by giving people so much rules and regulations that the freedom of the human species got imprissoned. This process took a long time, and changes came without people noticing them. This is false because the state and the other authorities only make rules to make them more powerful. (which is as a matter of fact an other natural will of people, greed for power; power is needed to instate the right to live).
By all of this I think he don't mean we should be anarchistic, I guess he means we should dismantle the authorities as they are today and start over again, let the authorities do what they are supposed to and not forming our minds to make them stronger.