Sunday, May 26, 2013


I have an idea kicking around in my head that I want to flesh out.  My educational background is heavily influenced by political theory and philosophy, due to having both my bachelors and masters in political science with a minor in philosophy.  As a result, it tends to be how I understand most concepts, regardless of their actual background.  What I am going to attempt to construct here is an extended metaphor that plays off of western and classical political theory as it applies to lifting.  For the sake of the reader, I will explain the metaphor and its roots as I progress, rather than leaving the subject matter assumed, but if you want to dive deeper and political theory interests you, it would behoove you to read Hobbes’ “Leviathan”, Locke’s Treatises of Government, Machiavelli’s “The Prince” along with his discourses, and Plato’s “Republic”.  Additionally, I will not be citing my work here, as this is not an academic paper, but credit is due to all the above.

I will be releasing this in multiple parts, so bear with me.
In “Leviathan”, Thomas Hobbes presented to us the state of nature, to mean the state of man without government.  In the state of nature, the state of man is one of war, as man fights with each other over resources.  Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, as there is no security against those who desire your resources, and even those few men that are powerful by nature of their genetics still fall victim to fragile alliances formed by others whose greed compels cooperation until they are able to defeat the immediate threat.  This is due to the fact that human nature is self-serving and greedy, and that man is primarily concerned with their own survival and possession of resources rather than the betterment of their fellow man.

I'm just saying
When we start training, we are in the state of nature.  We have no knowledge or experience to guide us, and simply stumble around in the dark grasping at straws.  We battle for the resource of knowledge, and it is a clumsy battle waged out of greed and fear rather than one strategically fought.   We chase after the latest fads like home exercises DVDs, or we follow old dogma about high reps for cutting and low reps for bulking, or we take routines from magazines or we just wing it.  We program hop from gimmick to gimmick, like man rushing from resource to resource.  The end result is the same, as our gains are both poor and short lived.

In Hobbes’ cases, it was human nature that resulted in the state of war, but what is to be blamed for our state of nature in the gym?  It is still the fault of human nature.  Instead of avarice though, we are dealing with the sin of pride.  Admitting that we know nothing is a humbling experience that few wish to willingly engage in.  In our “everyone is a winner” culture, people feel ashamed to not be great at everything always.  We feel that, as intelligent human beings with the ability to reason, we should easily be able to craft our own training routines from the start with zero snags.  The reality is though, we all start somewhere, and as novices, we require help for us to be able to know how to progress. To quote Mitch Hedberg “I tried to teach myself how to play guitar, but I didn’t know how to play, so I was a bad teacher”.

We miss you man
So how do we move out of the state of nature?  By developing a social contract and employing a sovereign.

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