Thread: The Best Way
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:11 PM   #3
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Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 401
Re: The Best Way

Jonathan Hay wrote: View Post
I was agreeing quite contentedly with what you had written right up to this point. It sounds to me as though you are saying two things here: 1.) The serendipitous nature of the beginning of your involvement in music and religion prevent you from claiming your music and faith or superior to all others.
Not exactly. The reason the nature of the beginning of my involvement in music and religion (and most things, for that matter) keeps me from making any claims of superiority is that I did not come to them by a process that involved investigating other options. How can I claim my way is better than other ways if I've never looked into the merits of those other ways?
2.) The mere presence of a variety of options precludes any of them from claiming superiority over the rest. Is this correct?
Not necessarily. But I think it's very difficult for any of said options to make a broad, sweeping statement about being the best of the bunch.
I for one care which is best (at least about some things). Mind you, I suppose this is contingent upon what you mean by "best." In any case, would you really want to practice a martial art, or style of music, or religion that was the worst of the available options - even if it "worked" for you? I've seen people practicing self defense methods that would easily get them hurt or killed. Their practice, however, "worked" for them; it made them feel safe and equipped to handle an attack. Should they take your view and just never mind the inefficacy of their chosen self defense approach? Is the illusion of self defense skill to be preferred over the real thing?
Of course not. There is nothing wrong with looking at things logically and making value judgments based on our analysis. That's not what I'm talking about. It's perfectly reasonable to say, "I believe art X is better for knife disarms than art Y because I find its training methodology has a more realistic approach to weapons." What is unreasonable is saying, "Art X is the world's greatest art; there is no reason to train any other art." No one will ever be able to prove or even make a strong logical case for that; it's a statement based on emotional attachment that then gets rationalized after it's made.
Being better than the next guy is not really a motivator for me except if the next guy is trying to harm or kill me and I'm trying to defend myself. In this case, being "better" at defending myself than my attacker is at harming me is very crucial, don't you think?
Yes, absolutely.
Being better at a given thing ought not to be confused with doing what is best, though. I can be paddling a canoe in the best known method but not be doing so better than the guy in the next canoe.
I don't agree. Depending upon the criteria involved, it seems to me perfectly appropriate to declare one way better than another. Is baking a cake with cement better than baking it with flour? I suppose it depends upon the purpose for which the cake is being made. If I want to use the cake as an anchor for my boat, then a concrete cake is much better than one made of flour. If I want to eat the cake, then a cake made of flour is better than one made of cement. So long as one is clear on the purpose for which one is doing a given thing, it seems to me to be quite appropriate to distinguish better and worse ways of accomplishing that thing.
Of course. But when you limit your scope to two options and specific purposes, then you're out of the realm of the kind of silly, categorical assertions I'm criticizing.

I think you and I agree more than we disagree. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in what I was talking about.

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