Philosophy Is Often Too Weak

I picked up this book at the library last year and forgot to review it.  Such a great title: Martial Arts and Philosophy Beating and Nothingness, Edited by Graham Priest and Damon Young,  Vol. 53 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series.  

The sad truth is, I rarely find philosophy compelling.  I very much like live discussions where (my) ideas become the center of attention, so when philosophy is a voice in the mix it's fun. Nothing in this book struck me as novel or stimulating until yesterday when a student of mine graciously sent me a link to an article from the book.  In the context of a student taking an interest in the specific arguments of Gillian Russell I suddenly had a reason to reflect more deeply on them.

Here is the article.

And here is my response:  

If a person doesn't know the historical and religious origins of martial arts it is pretty easy to make unending categorical errors about the purpose of training, and to completely miss the fruition of practice.  If Gillian Russell were to come to class I think her mind would be blown.  If a person is completely unaware of what the fruition of weakness might be, how can he or she be expected to recognize that fruition when it appears?  If her methods require strength, then she is in a self-referential loop.  Are there really no down sides to strength in her experience? or is she simply ashamed of her own natural strength limitations?  
When we truly accept who and what we are, and appreciate our true nature the way it is--the result is freedom.  Why would we want to cover that up with strength unless we feared it?  (Or even weakness for that matter, as she laments a fellow student --and wannabe qi jock-- did.) 
Because we, as human beings, have yet to find the limits of what are, every method we teach is wrong.  Or rather, a method is only right in a particular context at a particular time to the degree which it serves to reveal something true.  Methods always have some fruition, the two are inseparably linked, but the fruition is not always what we expect.  We can never truly know the fruition of someone else's practice or what views they hold about themselves and the world.  We can only know what they communicate to us. 


As a footnote I would like to add that I often encounter martial artists that believe what they have been taught was the method itself; that a given method is the correct way to stand or move or execute a technique.  There are only three methods I'm aware of in which the method is the same as the fruition.  They are wildness, stillness, and emptiness.  Everything else is preliminary or apophatic.  Everything else is wrong.


Also as a footnote, because I mentioned philosophy, I have to say how disgusted I am by a show on NPR called "Philosophy Talk."  Their bad tasting tag line is, "We question everything except your intelligence."  Really?  Well it doesn't pan out because the hosts are so narrow minded and limited in their experience of both the real world and ideas that even when there is an interesting guest or topic they seem to squash it with their own pontificating.  Yesterday they were talking about the recent Citizen's United Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.  They were completely oblivious to the pro-commerce arguments which obviously informed the majority of the court.  


OK, since I seem to be in a confrontational mood, perhaps bought on by the large amount of time I've been spending around baby goats these last few weeks, please send me any and all links to books or articles about philosophy which you think might stimulate my horns to grow.  Thanks for listening.