virus: Aikido, Objectivism, and Other Metaphors

D. H. Rosdeitcher (
17 Mar 97 19:09:17 EST

This post addresses a variety of subjects that came up over the past few days
(ie.metaphors, axioms,aikido, zen, dog senses, Buddhism, Lakoff, etc.)

A major attribute of consciousness is the ability to generate
metaphors--understanding one thing by comparing it to another thing. An example
of generating a metaphor is the understanding of how memes are copied and
transmitted, by watching with how genes are copied and transmitted. Metaphors
such as memetics, to be valid, must be referring to something concrete
(ie.effects of genes). Such metaphors can be used as a tool to gain advantages
such as knowledge and skills.
There are other metaphors that are based on figments of the imagination that
don't exist in objective reality as such. Examples are 'singularity', 'karma',
'heaven/hell', 'cold fusion' The use of such metaphors cause problems.
An example of a metaphor which is in based on objective reality, is the
martial art of aikido. Aikido unlike most martial art forms, is based on human
nature and the natural movements of the human body. People have built in
Darwinian survival tendencies and tend to avoid unnecessary life or death
conflicts. The 2 traditional self-defense ideologies of either 1) "Beat up the
attacker" or 2) "Turn the other cheek" are not good attitudes for long term
survival. Aikido, on the other hand, is based on actively avoiding or
dissipating attacks in a way that leads to a more harmonious relationship
between people and their environment. I'd like to point out that aikido is not
the only martial art based on objective reality, as practioners of many other
styles can and do have reality-based approaches.
The techniques of aikido are often practiced as a metaphor--a way of
dealing with situations in daily life. Aikido practice teaches the body to move
and react like an aikidoist. And, through this practice, it is possible to
develop an increased sensitivity to other people's energy or intentions, sort of
like the way other animals can sense things that humans cannot. For instance, if
someone is making a verbal psychological attack, this attack can be sensed and
redirected very quickly, without necessarily being able to describe with words
what is going on.
However, there was a problem with the way aikido was practiced in many of
the schools I attended or visited. Aikido, like zen and other martial arts,
developed in a Buddhist-oriented culture and had Buddhist elements associated
with it. For example, the structure of the aikido schools were often very
hierarchical as the sensei (teacher) was above being questioned. There was also
excessive traditional protocol (i.e. constantly bowing to show respect).
When I first started practicing, some of the advanced students would
chastize me for being arrogant and they would tell me that in order to do
aikido, I have to "dissolve my ego". As I kept practicing and improving over a
period of a few years, I noticed that I was surpassing and/or improving faster
than the people who kept promoting this attitude that you need to be this
egoless "non-personality" to do aikido. It was like there was an element of
subtle dominance and submission that did not necessarily have to do with aikido.
The metaphor of aikido, while useful in some ways, was not a sufficient tool
for detecting that there was anything wrong with the notions of higher
authority, anti-ego concepts and other metaphors which are not grounded in
objective reality.
There are some metaphors that deal specifically with influencing and
controlling other metaphors. These metaphors are important because just as
scientific and technological advancement in any civilization is determined by
the amount of energy harnessed by that civilization, effectiveness of any
individual or society is influenced by the metaphors used by that individual or
society. This special class of metaphors that deals with influencing the quality
and quantity of other metaphors is known as philosophy and one philosophy which
is a metaphor grounded in objective reality is Objectivism.
Objectivism is similar to aikido in the sense that it is a metaphor based
on objective reality and is different from 2 types of traditional ideologies.
Almost all ideologies are either 1)subjectivist--idea that the contents of the
mind of an individual, group or God determine reality or 2)intrinsicist--idea
that true reality is separate from the contents of the mind. Both of those types
of ideologies are metaphors based on something that is not real (ie.
consciousness without existence or existence separate from consciousness). The
metaphor of objectivism, on the other hand, is based on the objectively real
idea that there is a dynamic relationship between the subject (consciousness)
and the object (existence). Another parallel between objectivism and aikido is
that just as aikido is not the only martial art form that is based on objective
reality, objectivism is not necessarily the only philosophy that can be based on
objective reality, as other philosophies can express objective reality
differently, (but will not contradict objectivism) but reach the same
Objectivism by itself, like aikido and other metaphors, has it's
limitations, along with its advantages. The study of objectivism alone will not
create the same aikido-like bodily awareness. And, simply having objectivist
ideas does not always mean applying them to action. For instance, happiness and
success are virtues in objectivism, but sometimes objectivists are not as happy
or successful as some non-objectivists. Other metaphors about how the mind works
might be important to solve those kinds of problems.
But, objectivism makes it possible to understand how belief systems affect
individuals and societies. It is also a tool for evaluating other metaphors.
For instance, the problems described with aikido such as it being infected with
authoritarian and/or Buddhist attitudes can be easily understood and corrected
using objectivist concepts such as 'definition by non-essentials' or
Objectivism is for identifying which metaphors are based on objective
reality and which contradict objective reality. This is important because one of
the major problems with the world is that there are powerful destructive
institutions which function through metaphors which are not based in objective
reality. Such institutions, which include current governments, religions, and
the academia, control and regulate information and resources, blocking progress
on personal and global levels. One example is academic institutions which have a
force-backed monopoly on certain knowledge and professions like medicine. People
entering such fields are stifled and stagnated by bureaucratic red tape. As
powerful as such institutions seem, however, they are based on a "house of
cards"--metaphors with no basis in reality.
Here's a specific example of how such institutions depend on non-objective
metaphors. There were recent posts on a lecture given at a major university
about topics such as reason, free-will, metaphor, etc. by George Lakoff.
Lakoff's position was that reason is useless and he used a combination of valid
empirical studies and corrupt distortions of truths to prove his point. One of
the things that the empirical studies showed, was that concept formation is
based on sense perception. He then tried to prove that philosophy and reason are
useless, because many philosophies based on reason came to the wrong conclusion
about concept formation and sense perception.
He did not mention Objectivism, which explains that concept formation is
based on sense perception, before empirical evidence showed this fact. The
presentation was a way of giving incomplete information to support the idea
that people helplessly need some big institution to get knowledge, credentials,
jobs, money, etc.