Allan Kurzberg And The Paradox Of Organized Religion, Part 1.

“…the Chinese had a good idea of their origins, related in a creation myth concerning one Pangu, the first(almost human) being, who spent 18,000 years chiseling out the universe from chaos.  When he died, the vermin on his body became the human race.”–Richard Gunde




Before we try to examine Allan Kurzberg’s approach to organized religion, we would do well to review his entire system and think about each part carefully.


New Definition of human being:  A Human being is an irrational being that is mostly capable of rational thought.

Postulate 1.  The ability of humans to think rationally developed late in human history.

Postulate 2.  No perceivable living creature on Earth lies, prevaricates, or pretends more than a human being.

Postulate 3.  All human beings are “Other” creating biological entities.

Postulate 4.  All human interactive behavior is the result of the dynamics between inclusive and exclusive relationships.

The Corollary of Human Existence or The Five Motivational Forces:  The five motivational forces that govern all human behavior are:  E+, E-, OE+, OE-, and r.

The Corollary of Instability:  The five motivational forces are unstable and at any point in time one force may change into any of the other forces.


It is important to note that although Allan believed the above definition, corollaries and postulates were necessary and sufficient to analyze all forms of human interactive behavior, he admitted that additional postulates and corollaries might be discovered in the future.  He also believed that the language he used in the above parts might be altered or refined to make the concepts even clearer.

We shall now look at one of the areas of human interactive behavior that Allan had a particular interest in:  organized religion.  To take all emotions away that might hamper an objective analysis of organized religion, Kurzberg reverted to symbols OR-1, OR-2,,,  OR-n, where n is finite since the number of human beings is finite. Allan thought that the naming of individual ORs was the main reason studies of ORs have not been objective, since they conjure up emotions that necessarily interfere with rational thought.  An OR is required to have at least two or more members (by definition of “organized”.  Each OR contains elements  that are common to every other OR.  Fundamentally, all ORs contain a finite set of beliefs whose purpose is to link each member of an OR’s life with the universe and to endow it with meaning..  Let us now state the paradox of ORs that Allan examined and pondered over.


The Paradox of Organized Religion:  Although every organized religion purports to make people more moral, no organized religion can ensure the moral behavior of any of it’s members at any point in time.


By the Corollary of Human Existence, we know that OE- must be present in each member(they are all humans), and by the Corollary of Instability, we know that any of the five motivational forces can change into any of the other motivational forces at any point in time.  OE- by definition is the state where rational thought is overwhelmed by destructive emotions.  Therefore, we have proved The Paradox of Organized Religion.

Kurzberg’s query was how do we try to undo the paradox?  What must each member of an OR do to ensure moral behavior?  It’s clear that the task of every OR would be to find ways to limit OE-, especially that described by P 3.  To avoid “Otherness”, each OR would have to find ways not to judge or create inclusive and exclusive relationships by P 4.  A difficult if not impossible task to be sure.  But without a conscientious effort on the part of an OR to do the above, the paradox displays a contradiction as to what each OR purports to do and what it actually can do.


Allan Kurzberg And The Four Postulates, Part 4.

“It remains to be seen whether the human race is a mere intruder on the planet Earth, or a more permanent resident.”–Guy Murchie




In the last section we examined some consequences of the third postulate.  This post will conclude Allan Kurzberg’s systematic approach to interactive human behavior.   The last postulate is a universal that enables us to understand all aspects of interactive human behavior:  Postulate 4:  All human interactive behavior is the result of the dynamics between inclusive and exclusive relationships.  By exclusive, Allan means relationships that exclude other human beings(such as what happens through the “Other” function of OE-), and create divisions.  Inclusive, the opposite of exclusive , refers to relationships that seek to include other human beings.  An inclusive relationship is any organization that contains two or more members, such as a club, organized religion,  a political entity, or a marital union.  The “Other” is, of course, an obvious and prominent example of an exclusive relationship, since by its very nature it attempts to exclude and create distance between the individual defining the “Other” and the individual so defined.

Let us examine the concept of dynamics within the fourth postulate to make it clearer.  Google offers a bipartite definition of dynamics:  1) the branch of mechanics concerned with the motion of bodies under the action of forces; 2) the forces or properties which stimulate growth, development or change within a system or process.  Clearly, both aspects of the definition apply to the fourth postulate, because humans are bodies under the influence of the five motivational forces, and such forces can stimulate growth and development (although these forces can also do the opposite), causing continual change.

Note:  Scientist A, d’Abro has stated that the world of physics is governed by partial differential equations.  Differential equations involve quantities that are undergoing instantaneous change, a major aspect of differential calculus.  The word “partial” here refers to more than one quantity undergoing instantaneous change.  As a part of physical phenomena, human beings are also undergoing change initiated by stimuli applied to the five motivational forces.  So, theoretically, the dynamic behavior of the five motivational forces can be described by partial differential equations if we could specify what stimuli produce changes in our forces and when.

The beauty of our theory is that it provides us with a means of understanding all human interactions, be they in the arts, news, internet, politics, organized religion, or our everyday behaviors, while giving us a language for interpreting and describing such interactions.  In future posts we will see how Allan Kurzberg’s system can apply to education, evolution, war, organized religion, health, and the world of robots.

Allan Kurzberg And The Four Postulates, Part 3.

“If we can find ways to awaken the full power of awareness, we could enter a new phase of human evolution and revitalize ourselves and our world.”–Tarthang Tulku 


The “Other” is often deemed inferior, or, in the extreme, less than human.  In that case the “Other ” is denied basic human rights and often thought a hindrance to what is supposed as human.  The “Other” may look different from a beholder, speak another language, be of a different gender, belong to a different organized religion, have a different color, belong to a different political party, etc.  The making of “Others” is therefore the crucible of all prejudice and hate. Indeed, it only takes one counterexample to disprove an accepted prejudice.  Alas, throughout history and today the tendency towards separatism and judgmentalism have blinded people to this simple truth.  How many millions of lives would have been saved if this truth had been applied!  Of course, the fact that a counterexample was not put forth and accepted as proof by the vast majority of human beings, provides additional evidence that unreason holds sway in the human mind.  Thus, the range in producing the “Other” might be only a mild disapproval of someone with whom one does not agree, to a lethal degradation that “justifies” the slaughter of millions of human beings.  And as humans have developed ever greater means to destroy themselves, understanding the creation of “Others” is truly critical to the survival of humanity.

With all the research done in neurophysiology and psychology nobody really knows why we create “Others”, and yet the fact that we do may determine our eventual fate on this planet. Physicist, Erwin Schrodinger, in his book, My View of the World, has suggested a primal impulse, “euphoria”, a hitting out as a means of protection, might be a cause.  However, the “Other” may also be seen in a positive way, such as a human so superior that people wish to learn from or emulate the person.  Humans that are masters of their craft are examples of such mentors that are mentors, models, leaders, etc.  And the “Other” right refer to a country for whom one has special reverence.  So that for a true understanding of the “Other” both the positive and negative aspects need to be analyzed.

In the next post, the fourth postulate will be stated and examined.  There will also be a review of Allan Kurzberg’s system.

Allan Kurzberg And The Four Postulates, Part 2.

“The mind of man is beneficent and noble only when it obeys truth.  As soon as it betrays truth, as soon as it ceases to revere truth, as soon as it sells out, it becomes intensely diabolical.  Then it becomes far worse than instinctual bestiality, which always retains something of the innocence of nature.”–Hermann Hesse


When Allan examined his previous corollary, he decide to redefine the concepts of self-awareness and self-knowledge.  What is self-awareness?  It is to know that at any moment our rational thought may be overcome by the forces of OE+ and/or OE-.  What is self-knowledge?  It is to know that one’s actions are governed by E+, E-, OE+, OE-, and r.

It is interesting to reflect that almost all forms of therapy, meditation, psychological treatments and problem solving are attempts to help and strengthen r and to discover the “hidden” forces acting on it.    But even when such attempts succeed, there is always the possibility that r will again be overwhelmed by emotional forces.  Thus, all of the above methods employ specific exercises to bring the human minding balance to avoid cataclysmic shifts in emotional states.  Discipline and repetition are essential to such exercises, because without them the mind could revert into unhealthy, unbalanced patterns.  This fact leads to Allan Kurzberg’s Corollary of Instability:  The five fundamental forces are unstable and at any point in time one force may change into any of the other forces.  Hence the importance of self-awareness.

Kurzberg recognized the great difficulty in listing all forms of destructive behavior(OE-), but he realized that one form towers above the rest and so became his third postulate:  Postulate 3.  All human beings are “Other” creating biological entities.  For Allan, the concept of the “Other”cannot be overestimated because it is the primary engine that drives human behavior.  By creating “Others”, humans demonstrate the tendency to shape inclusive and exclusive relationships, the basis for the fourth postulate.  Also,  inclusive and exclusive relationships can be treated more precisely through elementary set theory.  “Otherness” runs the gamut to humans perceived to be a little different to “Others” perceived as less than human.  It is instructive to take another look at literary texts, especially, from the point of view of “otherness”.  You will find it everywhere.  In this continuing analysis of Allan Kurzberg’s philosophy, we will examine the concept of the “Other” in more detail.



Allan Kurzberg And The Four Postulates, Part 1.


“The depths and the mysteries of the universe lie not where the clouds and blackness are; the depths are to be found in the spaces of clarity and serenity.”–Hermann Hesse


Allan Kurzberg is known primarily for his philosophical works and essays.  His four postulates serve as the best introduction to his thinking.   Therefore, I will begin this exposition with a listing of the postulates with some comments about their origins and applications:

Postulate 1.  The ability of humans to think rationally developed late in human history.


The latest research has shown that the development of the neocortex (the seat of rational thinking) occurred quite recently.  This would imply that for the majority of man’s existence, a lack of rational thought, or ‘primal emotion”  has dominated.  So in lieu of the above, Allan provided a new definition of human being, grounded in the area of thought: A human being is an irrational being that is mostly capable of rational thought.  He explained that “mostly capable” was necessary, because some humans are born with defective brains that deprive them of all rational functions, and some people suffer strokes or forms of Alzheimers that prevent any kind of reasoning power.  However, the most important conclusion to be drawn is the overwhelming dominance of unreason as compared to reason.  Kurzberg affirmed that the proof of this statement is demonstrated throughout human history, including the present.  Indeed, Allan thought that what unites all human beings is not reason, but unreason.


Postulate 2.  No perceivable creature on earth lies, prevaricates, or pretends more than a human being. (the clause “perceivable” is necessary, because there may exist beings on earth in dimensions unknown to us that lie, prevaricate, and pretend more than humans.)  Kurzberg believed that this postulate cannot be overestimated.  It is precisely because of P 2 that rational thought and precise definition are so essential in understanding human discourse.  He applied the postulate approach of mathematics and the use of precise definition to study human interactive behavior, because mathematics represents the pinnacle of pure reasoning.  His postulates, corollaries and definitions provide the impetus that occurs when he analyzes their implications for human behavior.


As a consequence of P 1, Allan concluded that there are five primary motivational forces in every human being.  Using the abstract approach to generality from mathematics, he proposed the Corollary of Human Existence or The Five Motivational Forces:  The five motivational forces are:  E+, E-, OE+, OE-, and r.  E+ and E- represent emotions that are positive and negative, respectively, but are not strong enough to overcome rational thought. OE+ and OE- also represent positive and negative emotions, respectively, but they are strong enough to overpower rational thought.  r, rational thought, is not capitalized to show its relative weakness in relation to the forces of unreason, another consequence of P 1.

Note:  One could literally write volumes about the fundamental instability of r and its struggles with the forces that seek to undermine it.  r’s instability is the source of plays, films, poetry, novels, law, economics, philosophy, organized religion, and many other human endeavors.  The truly fragile r has been given a daunting task:  to try to make intelligible a mental environment permeated with irrationality.


In the next post I will explore new ways of defining self-awareness and self-knowledge according to Kurzberg, and study briefly the enormous implications of his next postulate.


The Philosophy Of Allan Kurzberg: A Brief Summary, Part 2.

Allan Kurzberg was suspicious of philosophies that seemed to utilize ad hoc neologisms and undue complexity.  “To be sure, mathematics may become highly abstract and complex.  However, such complexity has a specific purpose:  to try to gain as precise an understanding  of a particular concept.  In philosophy, complexity often masks a lack of understanding of fundamental concepts”.  He would shake his head when he thought of the writing of F.S.C. Northrop, “This writer seems to list a string of adjectives that make his ideas well-nigh incomprehensible!  I defy anyone to tell me what the following statement means:  “The economic-political socio-historical physical-analytical process of Italy evolved in artistic and scientific conceptualizing, while maintaining its unique global outlook.”  Allan would remind me of Stuart Chase’s book, The Tyranny of Words.  “Robert!  If you ever get the chance, read Stuart’s book and think about some of his criticism!  Words are fine in their own way.  As a character in a Samuel Beckett novel stated, “Words are no shoddier than what they peddle.”  “However, in philosophy we should attempt to elucidate and explain rather than bewilder and confuse.  I might add Piet Hein’s Grook:  “To make a name in learning when other paths are barred, take something very simple and make it very hard!”

Allan liked to ponder on free will and determinism.  He would tell me that to prove there is no free will all one had to do was to take an event, say t7, and show that one had no choice but to act as one did.  If you could do that, then for all events after t7 and preceding it the same conclusion must be true, because you can’t say that you did not have free will for t7, but you did for t11, or t4.  Kurzberg himself did not believe in free will.  He thought that once you were placed in an environment, a host of influences arising from that environment would begin to serve as forces that you would sway you in a particular direction when making any decision.  He would say, ” The philosophical belief that at birth the mind is”tabula rasa” is not tenable, because we know by definition that humans come into the world with motivational forces that I call: E+, E-, OE+, OE-, and r.  That is, humans are irrational beings that are mostly capable of rational thought.  The belief of Rousseau in “the noble savage” is equally false.  And the overemphasis on the role of rational thought from The Age of Enlightenment is also not supportable.  It has taken two world wars and a host of smaller ones to show what motivational forces influence the human mind…”

In the next segment I will show what event what brought Allan and I together and how we shared some important experiences.

The Philosophy of Allan Kurzberg: A Brief Summary, Part 1.

Before summarizing some of Allan Kurzberg’s fundamental philosophical ideas it is well to note what Allan’s concept of philosophy was.  Kurzberg  used to take issue with philosophies, which he called those that “stopped the car”.  He meant philosophies that never got beyond a defined point A to a defined point B.  The problem with such philosophies, he asserted, was that they are based on undefinable terms.  Consequently, advocates of these philosophies have unlimited opportunities of interpreting these terms freely, since no precise definition impedes the pathways of their thoughts.  Certainly, to think about what constitutes the beautiful, for instance, does add to our perception and appreciation of the aesthetic.  However, aesthetics as a philosophy can never state that as a consequence of a conceived definition of beauty, the following must occur, because “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.  In other words, aesthetics is a philosophy that “stops the car”.  Kurzberg was not opposed to the study of aesthetics or other “immovable” philosophies, but he maintained that the study of philosophy should include philosophies that provide movement from one defined point to another.  And that is what Allan tried to do through his four postulates and two corollaries in The Theory of Us.  He tried to reassert the universal power of mathematical reasoning into a theory of human interactions.

Personal Note:  When I was a student at USC, I was quite interested in the ideas of historian and literary scholar, Erich Kahler.(I still have a stack of typed notes from his work, Man the Measure, which covers man’s early history to 1943.  He didn’t know how WWII would turn out!).  Kahler had written an intriguing essay based on an Ohio State lecture, “The True, the Good, and the Beautiful”.  His ideas focused on some of the more important points of Greek philosophy.  Impressed with his concepts, I decided to give this pamphlet to a Taiwanese girl that I knew from the comparative literature program.  After a few days she returned it, and I asked her what she thought of it, expecting effusive praise.  However, she looked at me critically and said,”Robert!  This is not the only way of defining these concepts!  In China, we have entirely different ways of understanding these ideas, and, in my opinion, they are just as valid!  So I learned that my reliance on Greek thought had blinded me to philosophical schools in other parts of the world!