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Old 08-28-2004, 10:29 AM   #21
Richard Elliott
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 47
Re: Article: True Self Defense by George S. Ledyard

Chris Birke wrote:
I don't think there is such a thing as true self defense. Nor do I really believe in the self. These concepts seem so problematic to me. It is much more congruent if I abandon them.

Is this dangerous?

Good Morning Chris and good on ya sir.

Is this dangerous?
Good question.

As abstract concepts I don't think you really have anything to fear at all unless someone sneaks up on you from behind and hits you in the head with a book of 'em. Not likely. With sufficient skill and training any concept can be made to be problematic, and convincingly so: self, consciousness, love, patriotism, god, nature, the brain, good, bad, ugly.... I'm no brain doctor, behaviour expert or even role model for pete's sake, but I do know that "the mind" has an almost unlimited capacity to associate or disassociate as an adaptive need arises, especially one in a chemically- soaked state.

Anyway, if you personalize your statement: "Nor do I believe in myself" it seems to me you could very well give yourself a problem. If somebody with utter conviction and consistency puts their existence into question, not as a thought experiment or abstract puzzle-play I just don't see anything too good coming from this, man. No, not as a real and actual puzzlement about their awareness with the congruent issues of ownership and individuation. Without the confidence, trust or ability to identify something about my existence as mine: my body, myself or my surroundings; I just don't see how anybody can get started in life, to say the least of having personal or social relations. Everything becomes problematic. How can anything like trust or respect be real if one cannot define boundaries, identify values or separate themselves from others? I don't know. It seems to me that one will either end up as some Kafkaesque bug on the wall or a megalomaniac that can't distinguish him or herself from whatever transient notion or technique one can use in order to adapt to or control others. And these two things may be different sides of the same coin.

It has been convincingly argued by some people that "the self" is none other than the masks we have to live by. I have to believe there is more to human existence than this, in any case believing this didn't make them give up adopting values, good manners, and generally useful and productive lives.

What's this got to do with martial arts or self-defense? Well, if you don't have anything worth defending, why bother?

Your question grabbed me. These past months I've been watching DVD reruns of the old British TV show "The Prisoner". It had to do with issues like the integrity of the self and mind and conformity and alienation and mind control and community and organ prodding and crazy stuff like behaviour modification and numbers. This show could be considered to be about self-defense.

Respectfully, Richard
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