One Trick Ponies

The common thesis…
the everyday self is shallow and wants to be that way. It does not want to know ‘what is really going on’ or ‘what it really wants or is doing’
It is hiding, fighting, avoiding…

The libido (Id) - Freud
Groundlessness - Heidegger, similar voids in other existentialists.
The will to power - Nietszche (Adler to a degree also)
Class struggle/consciousness - Marx
Oneness, Love, Compassion (Empathy, perhaps) - New Agers, but then also Hinduism, Buddhism, Mystical Christianity and more, and even a kind of naive common sense follower may imply this.

Their followers see in their fellow humans the real, authentic self, underneath the ego, false consciousness, small talk, conformism, passivity, distraction, mental clutter…and so on.

Each cult tends to see only the pony it believes in. Instead of having found part of what is avoided, unconsciously or consciously suppressed, feared in the self…no, what they focus on is what everything really boils down to. (Freud having potentially the broadest notion of what is avoided is perhaps the least one trick pony, but his followers have tended to focus on sex in one trick pony ways - those who did not follow one of the main branches from Freud.)

If you meet someone in one of these groups you may find everything reduced to a single underlying hidden thing. And find all of your actions and thoughts and thoughts in single box.

It seems to me they have each hit upon real portions of the elephant, but just that, portions.

I think it shows our tendencies to abstract, to reduce, to dig, to find the absolute foundation of everything and to make up a theory of everything (or try to do so), shared by many (if not most) of us.

While many just follow the analysis and the theory made by others, some may try to do by themselves.
Either way, I think it shows one of the basic desires of our mind that we want/need to satisfy.
Without the analysis and the theory of everything, no matter how stupid/illogical/insane it might be, I don’t think we can be mentally very comfortable. It may even provoke clinical sort of insanity and other problems, I guess.
And importance (just for the peace of mind) is the (emotional) certainty one can feel in the analysis and the theory. In other words, it’s a question of belief.
However, (potentially) logical/reasoning part of our mind has to have the logical integrity, as well.
So, the analysis and the theory must be convincing to both emotional part and reasoning part of our mind if we want to relax and feel good without the urge/need to think and search and make up theories.

The perspective of surface self and underlying (and probably larger/bigger) self is common mostly because we become aware of different facets of our self as we grow and investigate.
And it’s not just about “self”. I guess ever deeper/finer theories of different branches of science or any other studies or researches often indicate there are a lot more to them, as we continue to learn.

Also, it’s pretty normal/natural for any analysis/theory to be partial (just “portion”), as any perspective or even massive gathering of perspective would always remain “partial” because they are based on limited numbers of (arbitrary) references.

Finally, I think your OP follows the pattern of “one trick pony”, and I guess all we think would always be one, most probably. So, we are the one trick pony, and anything aware and that can think, aliens, angels/devils, gods, and so on, would be one trick pony, as well.
And I just demonstrated I’m another one trick pony. :smiley:

An interesting field of discussion being referred to here. I use the term “one trick pony” a little differently concerning one talent rather than one understanding, but whatever. I think this issue is one of ego and passion blinding the mind.

How would any one person know if another person has actually seen all of the connections concerning something but he just can’t see them himself? If Max proposed that he has a theory that explains all 10 categories that Bob believes need to be explained, but Bob doesn’t see how the theory explains any more than one of them, is that a failing of Bob or of Max? How would they know?

Let me give a specific example.

In my discussions with Eugene, he is trying to ardently support a theory called TEW whereas I am explaining RM. He very, very seriously doesn’t want RM to be correct and he very seriously wants TEW to appear better. So he keeps looking very hard for the slightest excuse to deny that RM has explained something. To him, it is a political salesmanship discourse. He is selling a theory as if he was standing on a porch selling a vacuum cleaner. He doesn’t really care if it is really the best cleaner or even better than the one you already have. He wants you to buy his product, so he tries very hard to sell the audience (that he imagines is watching the discussion) on how poor any other competing product is compared to TEW. Even if he knew RM was correct, he would still say that it wasn’t because that would be a defeat.

What happens when someone willingly accepts an untruth as truth is that their mind very quickly loses the ability to actually discern truth from untruth. So even though Eugene wouldn’t admit to RM being correct and explaining everything it claims, he has lost the ability to even know whether it is or isn’t. Not only does his mind shut down before, “okay that guy is right” can form in his mind, but it also rushes to change the subject toward a more comfortable area of the topic. Thus the subconscious not only blinds by disallowing the thought, but also shifts focus away from more explanation that would have been available.

But his claim is that I am making assumptions concerning premises. My claim is that he is the one making assumptions that he uses to judge my premises. I know that he can’t actually know one way or another. But then can I? What if we are both making that same mistake?

The end result is that it would appear to both of us that the other is the “one trick pony”. But who isn’t in that category?

But also realize that what makes a “cult” is the gathering of those who only see it as correct out of all of those who looked at it. So of course, everyone in each cult is going to see theirs as correct, else they wouldn’t be there. They would be in some other cult/gathering who could only see that one as correct.

An argument against parsimony? I am very much on board with that. There’s a ton of mistakes made in philosophy, I think, for no reason other than the desire to build a system that’s as simple as possible. It’s a noble instinct, but bad to take as a prime sign of good philosophy. It’s especially bad when you use it to talk about human behavior. Makes me think of a related issue I’ve turned over in my head- how much philosophy has been shaped by writers always feeling the need to have three examples of things.

I agree, though the irony is most of the people on that list encourage people to stay with their discomfort, instead of avoiding it, because this opens them up to deep truths about themselves and/or the world.

Yes, I mean, there must be little nagging emotional tingles that something does not quite fit in the TOE box.

I agree, though this cuts both ways. Another way of asking the question is how do we manage to feel comfortable with views that must trigger discomfort even as they comfort in their totality.


OK, but then, why don’t these incredibly smart people realize this and allow for it?

I don’t think everyone is a one trick pony, I don’t have that theory. Is that the one trick pony you mean I have?

Good point. I think I misused it this way since it was a pattern I noticed first in the various psychotherapeutic approaches, that in turn stemmed from theories like those on the list. IOW the therapists, because of the foundations of their work, become one trick ponies in their work with their clients. To some degree we can use this as an analogy even for the non-psychologists in my list, since they each present something like a therapy to address the evasion and root cause they see.

Sure, we’ve all been likely on all sides of this. The one who is really struggling to avoid noticing what they are doing and realizes later what they were doing. The one who is on the receiving end of a kind of communicative fascism. And even the third party observer watching the pattern take place on both sides of a conversation.

Which is sad not only because it may be the case that both hypotheses are correct, and certainly that RM might just hold that last little key that would make TEW perfect, but the knee jerk pushing away is not allowing this process to take place. And then perhaps the most common this being missed, which I think is the case in the list, is that their hypothesis has a significant truth in it. and that is great. And it’s OK if it is not the only significant truth in that area. This last has ego issues, but it also has a cognitive anxiety issue as cause. There is something disturbing about not having a TOE.

Sure, both can be wrong for reasons neither is pointing out.

I think there are qualititative differences between people as far as their one trick poniness, but sure on some issue or other it is a human trait/pitfall.

Though some manage, it seems, to no longer think that any cult has allt he answers, and that each has flaws. Also that the flaws of one do not necessarily at all mean that the other cult - often there are two in opposition - is correct. In fact, often, it seems to me, we are specifically offered two cults as if they were the range of options and as if they were distinct, really, at root.

LOL, what is it about the number 3. It seems to have an implicit (etc.) in it, a completeness. Parsimony (and Occam’s R, for that matter) need to be regularly challenged. There are so many confusions about these, most allowing a metaphysical (ontological specifically) stance to pose as simple (shrug) logic.

I think Sartre didn’t believe in any sort of Unconscious, or inaccessible part of the mind…

What is your thesis about the ‘common thesis’? It doesn’t seem like you’re challenging it head on—i.e., challenging the idea that the everyday-self is like the film on deep water, and that something not quite like the surface lurks through the murky depths. Are you only saying that none of these particular theories has captured the full truth? It must be more than just that.

The moment anyone believes anything about fundamental things, would he be a “one-trick pony”? --Keep in mind, none of the things you’ve listed are really just one thing, though they all have one title. It seems to me that, in situ, one or more of these sets of goggles is going to capture either the full truth, close to it, or else be easily more truthful than some other, which would just be wrong. The views listed, and others, are not compatible—they’re not parts that would be found together on the same elephant.

Problems continue because of the false solutions we’ve invented. If the answers are not there, the questions cannot be there. They are interdependent; the problems and solutions go together. Because the use of certain answers is wanted to end the problems, they continue. The numerous solutions offered by all those gurus, the psychologists, the politicians, are not really solutions at all. That is obvious. If there were legitimate answers, there would be no problems. They can only exhort you to try harder, practice more meditations, cultivate humility, stand on your head, and more and more of the same. That is all they can do. The teacher or leader who offers solutions is also false along with his so-called answers. He is not doing any honest work, only selling a cheap, shoddy commodity in the marketplace. If you brushed aside your hope, fear, and naïveté‚ and treated these fellows like businessmen, you would see that they do not deliver the goods, and never will. But people go on and on buying these bogus wares offered up by the ‘experts.’

I wouldn’t know. :-"

I suppose my OP could be taken as saying there is no TOE, but that’s not what I meant. My point was not that these people failed because they presumed there was a TOE, but rather that they overestimated their success. They postulated the need for a nail to be hammered in, invented a hammer and then saw nails everywhere. Sometimes they hit the nail on the head. With humans, I think the TOE needs to account for a diversity of possible phenomena, a range that they did not account for, enough.

I disagree with you that offering solutions must be dishonest work, also. And, of course, errors of solution scope will come up, but if you pay attention, you may find the scope and not only stay within the bounds, but also be very effective. Most of the solutions above require the ‘client’ to do the bulk of the work. None of their solutions were particularly easy ones. They recquire(d) transformation, time, courage, intuition, rational investigation and facing tough feelings. (Except the New Agers who often radically underestimate how little their platitudes do) IOW they were not selling answers so much, to their specific ‘clients’ - as opposed to their professional peers - but processes.

So has there been a recent time when it seemed possible your TOE was incomplete? What process did you follow on that occasion? What feelings came up? Was courage necessary?

I’m not sure if I’m following you well.
I tend to think that it’s better to be honest with any negative sensation/feeling like including this type of discomfort because trying to avoid will repress/compress the energy (so to say) and we may get into the near constant state of running away from it.

But I also think that the mechanism turning away and running away is so natural to us that most of us can’t stop and face the discomfort in consistent manner.
So, it’s often useless to encourage others to face the negatives.

Well, if there are remaining discomfort, I don’t think it’s comforting in their totality.

Over valuing starts at the basic awareness level.

I mean, when we are aware (that we are aware or that we sense something, for example), we tend to presume that we are completely aware and we are consistently (and even permanently) aware.
And all our information processing seems to inherit these types of presumptions that cause over valuing and unwarranted certainty of all sorts.

So, smart or not, we tend to mistake something partial as if it’s wholesome.
And I think it comes from the stickiness of the focus of awareness.

When we focus on something, the focused area appears as if it’s everything, and thus bigger than it is (compared to other areas).
As long as the focus is held, it makes up the reality of the moment, and we may make secondary and subsequent focuses that create “virtual” reality within the parent (virtual) reality.

I do think that what we consider as “reality” is one of these virtual reality that is made by many many layers of parent realities and mixing up and confusion through “worm hole” type of renegade connection/exchange with different virtual realities. But I guess it’s a bit out of topic.

Well, I do think we all want to be one trick pony, aware or not.
Probably because we only have to have one theory and we don’t have to think again and again.

Even in your case, in the OP, you tried to fit everyone (you listed) in the single perspective, more or less, and it’s similar to one trick pony.

James is certainly one. He is RM pony, and I think he is comfortable with his trick.
I’m an awareness pony to some degree, and then emptiness pony, after all.

You know, that statement isn’t really very far from “I know that no one can knows nuthin.

Ayep… YeeHaaa - Ride’em Cowboy. :character-yoshi:

When you have the right trick pony, it only takes one. :sunglasses:

“Recent time”, no.
And when I was just thinking about it, even though I already had it right but didn’t know it for certain, I hardly thought about it much for perhaps 5 years. I only began concentrating on it when I decided to write a program to prove it one way or another. During that time while trying to get the computer to understand it (although much easier than getting people to), I had so much frustration with the computer, that I felt that discomfort and much like Max in the film Pi.

Whether you know it or not, the anxieties and discomforts in your life come almost entirely from other people (especially medically). Other people’s issues and especially those cast upon me, was what inspired me to go ahead and see if my “TOE” was really right or not, although I didn’t even think of it as a TOE until after I had proven it and began applying it to other things, finding that there wasn’t and couldn’t be anything that it doesn’t apply to.

But as one of my Threads on here says, people become religious because of their need to simplify their lives and that need comes via other people trying to jack around with their lives. The best way to get rid of religion for those who strive for that is to get ALL other people to leave other people alone. As long as people are jacking with each other, there will always be the urge to envision a simple means for handling it or preventing it, “to get it ALL straight” and then stick with it “religiously”.

So groundlessness, openness, compassion, etc., which express the idea that the world is bigger, more complex, vaster than the shallow self tends to recognize… people who appreciate and utilize these concepts in their lives are one trick ponies? It can happen, sure. It’s a perversion of the meaning of the original concepts. But it seems quite cynical to equate these concepts with fixation and smallness. Hopefully I’ve misunderstood you on at least some level.

Which is a statement I dislike, so help me see this.
As far as I can tell I was presuming we can know things.
I was saying that they did in fact find knowledge, that their models had truth to them. But that they - not necessarily others, I will add now for clarity - overestimated the span of their models. And since I am saying this it’s implicit that I am claiming to know a lot of things - such as that there are truths in their models and that the span of these truths is less than they realized. I am not saying, as far as I can tell, that no one can know anything, since all parties, I think, knew things.

No, that’s not it. It is close in words, but the small difference is huge. I am asserting that saying ALL problems have at their root a denial of ANY SINGLE ONE of these things is not correct. I am saying that to assign as motivation for everything a denial of one of these on the list is to try to squeeze everything into to small a box to cover everything.

I think you have.

It’s the interpersonal dynamic of

your problem with X
is caused by ¤

¤ being whatever the speaker’s core ‘denied experience/urge’ is. They see all facets of other people’s minds/personalities, the problematic parts as outgrowths from this single root.

And any problem will be described by the speaker as being caused by ¤. It is always the case that the core problem is a denial/avoidance of ¤.

I could have been fairer or perhaps more nuanced is a better way to put it in relation to Buddhism/Hinduism. As I was writing about New Agers, I realized that Buddhism and Hinduism can lead to this interpersonal dynamic - around oneness or compassion - and what I consider an overestimation of scope of deep insights. With Buddhism the actual focus would likely not be on Compassions so much but rather the 3 poisons. And using Hinduism there would have been more precise if I had focused on the Bhakti traditions, since they are more likely to see love and empathy as what is hidden inside the self.

Of course Buddhism would pretty forbid such a conversation - and for good reasons - but the teachings at least can be taken this way and function this way in a ‘dialogue’ with a person.

You seem to be saying that you already know that they have necessarily overestimated their models, as though to say, “I know that they can never be right.

I agree that it is very common throughout the history of man to take a single thought and try to use it in the most extreme manner, such as “all things have an opposite, therefore…” But in a rare few cases, what they might say might actually truly be universal (not that them claiming it means anything either way). Despite appearances and how universal it seems, truly all salesmen are not wrong about their product.

No, really, I made this part specifically clear…

Unless what you mean here is I meant their models can never be right, but I also specifically said there were truths to be found there, just that they overestimated the coverage.

Of course. I used that list because these are some one trick - or in Buddhism perhaps 3 trick - ponies one either encounters in forums like this one, or who have had huge effects of discourse in one important area of several. I suppose hoping that even if someone is an adherent to one of the members on the list, they will at least get a clear message about what I mean, since they will nearly always disagree with at least one if not all of the others and, indeed, see one or more as one trick ponies with the wrong trick.

When you encounter adherents who want to reinterpret any example you bring up into an effect of their pet cause - pun intended - it can feel like one is being suddenly oversimplified or forced into a box.