OT 1948: Primary Axioms

Reference: DIANETICS: The Original Thesis

This paper presents Chapter 2 from the book DIANETICS: THE ORIGINAL THESIS by L. RON HUBBARD. The contents are from the original publication of this book by The Hubbard Dianetic Foundation, Inc. (1948).

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.  Feedback on these comments is appreciated.

The heading below is linked to the original materials.


Primary Axioms

Dianetics is an heuristic science built upon axioms. Workability rather than Idealism has been consulted. The only claim made for these axioms is that by their use certain definite and predictable results can be obtained.

The principal achievement of Dianetics lies in its organization. Almost any of its parts can be found somewhere in history, even when they were independently evolved by the writer. There are no principal sources, and where a practice or a principle is borrowed from some past school the connection is usually accidental and does not admit any further use or validity of that school. Dianetics will work, and can only be worked, when regarded and used as a unity. When diluted by broader applications of older practices, it will no longer produce results. To avoid confusion and prevent semantic difficulties, new and simplified terminology has been used and is used only as defined herein.

Dianetics is actually a family of sciences. It is here addressed in the form of a science of thought applicable to psychosomatic ills and individual aberrations.

Dianetics is a science of thought applicable to psychosomatic ills and individual aberrations. It has been organized from past and current observations made objectively.

The field of thought may be divided into two areas which have been classified as the “knowable” and the “unknowable”. We are here concerned only with the “knowable”. In the “unknowable” we place that data which we do not need to know in order to solve the problem of improving or resolving aberrations of the human mind. By thus splitting the broad field of thought, we need not now concern ourselves with such indefinites as spiritualism, deism, telepathy, clairvoyance, or, for instance, the human soul.

Conceiving this split as a line drawn through the area, we can assign a dynamic principle of existence to all that data remaining in the “knowable” field.

After exhaustive research one word was selected as embracing the finite universe as a dynamic principle of existence. This word can be used as a guide or a measuring stick and by it can be evaluated much information. It is therefore our first and our controlling axiom.

The first axiom is.


We observe radiation condensing into matter; matter acquiring animation; animation developing thought; and thought becoming rational. The dynamic principle of existence on an immediate basis is to SURVIVE, but on a longer basis it is to EVOLVE.

This can be seen to be the lowest common denominator of the finite universe. It embraces all forms of energy. It further delineates the purpose of that energy so far as it is now viewable by us in the “knowable” field. The activity of the finite universe can easily be seen to obey this axiom as though it were a command. All works and energies can be considered to be motivated by it. The various kingdoms have this as their lowest common denominator, for animals, vegetables and minerals are all striving for survival. We do not know to what end we are surviving, and in our field of the “knowable” and in our choice of only the workable axioms, we do not know and have no immediate reason to ask why.

All forms of energy are then surviving to some unknown end, for some unknown purpose. We need only to know that they are surviving and that, as units or species, they must survive.

Substance has the characteristics of structure and energy. As these characteristics evolve we get minerals, vegetables, animals and humans. The organism evolves through trial and error with survival.

By derivation from the first workable axiom, we come into possession of the second. In obedience to the command “survive”, life took on the form of a cell which, joining with other cells, formed a colony. The cell, by procreating, expanded the colony. The colony, by procreation, formed other colonies. Colonies of different types united and necessity, mutation and natural selection brought about specializing, which increased the complexity of the colonies until they became an aggregation. The problems of the colonial aggregation were those of food, protection and procreation. In various ways a colonial aggregation of cells became a standardized unity and any advanced colonial aggregation came into possession by necessity, mutation and natural selection of a central control system.

The purpose of the colonial aggregation was to survive. To do this it had to have food, means of defense, protection and means of procreation. The control center, which had developed, had as its primary command, Survive! Its prime purpose was the food, defense, protection and means of procreation.

Thus can be stated the second workable axiom:


The mind perceives the problems in the environment and solves them using trial and error. The mind too evolves along with rest of the organism.

The ultimate success of the organism, its species or life would be, at its unimaginable extreme, immortality. The final failure in obedience to the law survive would be death. Between eternal survival and death lie innumerable gradations. In the middle ground of such a scale would be mere existence without hope of much success and without fear of failure. Below this point would lie, step by step, innumerable small errors, accidents, losses, each one of which would tend to abbreviate the chances of reaching the ultimate goal. Above this point would lie the small successes, appreciations, and triumphs which would tend to secure the desirable goal.

Life and death occur normally in the course of evolution, as lesser forms of organisms gradually give way to better forms. Immortality lies in evolving.

As an axiom, the mind can then be said to act in obedience to a central basic command, survive, and to direct or manage the organism in its efforts to accomplish the ultimate goal for the individual or species or life, and to avoid for the individual or species or life any part of the final failure, which leads to the stated axiom:


The mind directs the activity of the organism to implement solutions for better survival. With the emergence of rational thought, these solutions have improved.

A study of the field of evolution will indicate that survival has been, will be, and is the sole test of an organism, whether the organism is treated in the form of daily activity or the life of the species. No action of the organism will be found to lie without the field of survival, for the organism is acting within its environment upon information received or recorded, and error or failure does not alter the fact that its basic impulse was motivated by survival.

Another axiom may then be formulated as follows:


The mind is not always successful because it operates on trial and error.

As there are many organisms in the same species, all attempting to accomplish the same end, and as there are many species, and as matter itself is attempting in one unit form or another to survive, there is necessarily conflict and contest amongst the individuals of the species, species, or units of matter. Species cannot survive without being interested primarily in the species. Natural selection and other causes have established this as a primary rule for survival: That the unit remains alive as long as possible as a unit and, by association and procreation, that the species remain alive as a species. Second grade interest is paid by the unit or the species to its symbiotes Third grade interest is paid to inanimate matter. As this is apparently the most workable solution, natural selection best preserves those species which follow this working rule. And the symbiotes of the successful species therefore have enhanced opportunity for survival.

Conflicts and contests are part of the equation. But an organism evolves better as it cooperates with other members of its species and the environment.

Man is the most successful organism currently in existence, at least on this planet. Man is currently winning in the perpetual cosmic election which possibly may select the thinker of the new THOUGHT.

Man is heir to the experience and construction of his own ancestors. As cellular conservatism is one of the factors of survival, his brain is basically the same brain which directed and resolved the problems of his animal forebears. By evolution and natural selection, this brain therefore has the primary priority in emergencies. Superimposed on this animal brain has been developed an enormously complex analyzer, which probably exists in his frontal lobe.

The evolution has successfully produced man, which is a very complex but efficient organism.

The command, survive, is variable in individuals and species to the extent that it may be strong or weak. Superior strength of the command in the individual or species is normally, but variably, a survival factor. The primary facet of personality is the basic strength of the DYNAMIC drive.

The DYNAMIC is variable from individual to individual and race to race. It is varied by physiology, environment, and experience. Its manifestation in the animal brain affects the tenacity of the individual to life or purpose, and it affects the activity of the analyzer. The first characteristic of the individual which should be considered is the basic strength of his DYNAMIC. By this an axiom can be formulated:


The analytical, human or, as it has elsewhere been called erroneously, the conscious mind, is variable from individual to individual and race to race in its ability to perceive and resolve problems. Another axiom can then be formulated:


People differ from each other in their inherent persistence and the ability to analyze.

It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between the DYNAMIC and the intelligence. High intelligence may not denote high DYNAMIC. High DYNAMIC may not denote high intelligence. Intelligence is mental sensitivity and analytical ability. DYNAMIC is the persistency of the individual in obedience to the command, survive!

It has been noted that there is a gradation in the scale of survival. Gains toward the ultimate goal are pleasurable. Failures toward the final defeat are sorrowful or painful. Pleasure is therefore the perception of well-being, or an advance toward the ultimate goal. Pain, therefore, is the perception of a reduction toward the final defeat. Both are necessary survival factors.

For the purpose of Dianetics, good and evil must be defined. Those things which may be classified as good by an individual are only those things which aid himself, his family, his group, his race, mankind or life in its dynamic obedience to the command, modified by the observations of the individual, his family, his group, his race, or life.

As evil may be classified those things which tend to limit the dynamic thrust of the individual, his family, his group, his race, or life in general in the dynamic drive, also limited by the observation, the observer and his ability to observe.

Good may be defined as constructive. Evil may be defined as destructive—definitions modified by viewpoint. The individual man is an organism attempting to survive in affinity or contest with other men, races, and the three kingdoms. His goal is survival for himself, his progeny, his group, his race, his symbiotes, life and the universe in general in contest with any efforts or entities which threaten or impede his efforts to attain the goal.

His happiness depends upon making, consolidating, or contemplating gains toward his goal.

There is pleasure and pain that comes from success or failure respectively. There is good and evil defined by situations that aid or hinder evolution. Happiness comes from evolving toward better states of existence.

It is a purpose of Dianetics to pass man across the abyss of irrational, solely reactive thought and enter him upon a new stage of constructive progression to the ultimate goal.



Dianetics started with the establishment of certain axioms, such as, SURVIVE, which still stand as the foundation of the broader subject of Scientology.

The principle of SURVIVE definitely becomes operative when an organism is in danger. The principle of EVOLUTION, however, is operative all the time.

The mind reacts to ensure survival in a dangerous situation. But when things are calm its attention goes to evolving toward better states of existence.

Both reactive and analytical attributes of the mind are useful in their own context. These attributes, however, must also evolve toward greater efficiency.


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