Because, until this publication, members of the fitness and bodybuilding world have been unable to present a coherent, logical, response to the publics queries, persons seeking genuine answers have often remained confused, while critics have dismissed athletes as strange and their lifestyle as a psychological oddity.
In fact, many so called "professionals" have attempted to construct theories about why athletes are driven to exercise and sport. Sadly, these theorists have done nothing but alienate the very people they attempt to "understand," by incorrectly categorizing them with demeaning and inappropriate labels.
Often, the theorists who attempt to classify athletes as suffering from a disorder, are motivated by personal biases, and may in fact craft demeaning and incorrect theories about athletes as a mechanism of therapy to compensate for their own inadequacies and self-esteem issues.
Regardless of the nature of the publics query (genuine or malicious), it is the responsibility of every athlete to be able to present a clear, coherent, logical argument and explanation as to why they do what they do. In doing this, they will be doing a great service to the lifestyle they live and cherish.
Consider this publication as the answer to the publics questions of "Why?" Let this document stand as a rebuttal to all who would label our lifestyle as narcissistic and strange. When they read this they will be fully aware of the errors of their conclusions, and will, in fact, be the ones under scrutiny.
If you have been reading my writings for any length of time, you will no doubt have come to the conclusion that I "tell it like it is." I am, by philosophy, a strong empiricist, and by choice an applied scientist. This means that I am always observing the environment and my internal state, looking for answers to questions that begin with "WHY?"
Why do things work? Under what conditions do they work? Do they work all of the time, or only some? What are the underlying mechanisms at work in this system or that system? What is the cause of this action or reaction?
If variable "X" was modified, how would this result differ? These are all questions that I ask in relation to the external environment. When it comes to understanding people, the same questions apply.
The question of "why is physical exercise necessary?" is not simple to answer, but finding the answer IS simple. The consequence of the answer is unique to the individual, but the same answer is true for all people. The answer has to do with ethics.
When some hear "ethics" they think of morality. Certainly, morality is a consequence of ethics, as ethics is used to determine the morality of certain choices over others. But, a simpler definition here will apply: A system of values.
A system of values is hierarchical in nature. To determine what it is that you value, you must determine what ONE THING it is that you value MOST - because all other values will flow from this one standard. Ultimately, this means that ONE chief value gives rise to all other corollary values.
For a system of values to be of value to people, it needs to be objective. You can see the chaos our world is in because of SUBJECTIVE - i.e. "I feel it, therefore its true" - ethical systems. When your system of values is subjective, you can not make rational choices.
For example, if "feeling" or "emotion" or "desire" is the standard by which all choices are made, then if one person says that killing someone is right because they "feel" it is right, and the other person says that killing is wrong because they "feel" it is wrong, who is right? Both statements can not possibly be correct.
The trap that our world has fallen into is the trap of putting those two statements on EQUAL moral ground by saying that a system of values is up to each individual to decide. "Don't judge" we always hear. "What works for you doesn't work for me" they scream, and "It's just your opinion." Ethical and moral matters are NOT a matter of "opinion." Moral relativism is FALSE. One can not claim that the desires of a murderer and a scholar are morally equal.
For a system of values to be of independent value - i.e. applicable to EVERYONE equally - there must be a common OBJECTIVE standard, shared by everyone. There must be one "common denominator" upon which the system is based. Otherwise, if the standard is left to each person to arbitrarily determine by whim, then the desires of the murder to kill are equal in goodness to those of the scholar who seeks to help the poor. Everyone will have different standards - meaning that THERE WILL BE NO STANDARD. When everyone as a different standard, THERE IS NO STANDARD. So, what is the ONE chief value that EVERYONE shares? Life.
Life As The Ultimate Standard
As human beings, everything we do (assuming that we are rational) is driven by the desire to further our lives in substance or quality. Abraham Maslow designed the "hierarchy of needs." Maslow arrived at his conclusions based on case studies of successful people, making notes on what they achieved, and in what order. He correctly showed that physical survival was the first thing people were concerned with. Only after this could people self-actualize. What he did not know is that this hierarchy of needs is philosophically correct.
If life is the standard, when it comes to how people treat others, then, this means that whatever enhances ones life without taking from another's life, is RIGHT. Whatever victimizes another or the self is WRONG. This, of course, means that stealing is wrong, so is killing, so is rape, etc. Why? Because each of these acts seek to destroy life in substance or quality. This is why punishment for murder is the harshest the law can give - because life is THE STANDARD that everyone shares, regardless of ethnicity, cultural background or economic status. Ethics and morality ARE NOT SUBJECTIVE - standards exist - and for choices to be moral, they must flow from the chief value of life.
Judgments on other people SHOULD BE MADE according to how they act toward this standard. This is the philosophy of upon which the greatest document in history was written - The Constitution of the United States of America. So, how does this explanation of ethics relate to why someone should engage in physical exercise? Because the STANDARD of value - your life - is the SAME. It always is.
Why Is It That You Should Engage In Physical Exercise?
The only reason why you are driven to workout is to - in some way - enhance your life. Whether this comes in the form of weight loss, injury rehabilitation, self-esteem development, stress reduction, self-actualization or social interaction - the STANDARD is your life. Without your life, all of the reasons listed are impossible.
Knowing this - that your life is the chief value that makes all of your other values possible - you can determine what the next value is. In the article The Top Secrets of Bodybuilding Success: Finally Revealed! I wrote:
"Life - as opposed to mere subhuman existence - denotes health. Life and the slow delay of inevitable death are not the same. While one is characterized by health, the other is characterized by atrophy and decay."
It follows logically that quality of life - health - is the next concern after mere existence. People first focus on eating, and once enough food is available, they focus on the QUALITY of the food. The first concern is mere existence - the second is THE QUALITY OF THAT EXISTENCE. Health is the measure by which people assess the quality of their lives. Quality of existence - health - is the value that flows next in importance to existence. What flows next from health?
In the same publication I wrote:
"Life necessitates health, which further requires action. In the sense that man must eat to survive, but cannot be forced to take life-sustaining action, so too does human nature require - but not force - physical activity."
Human beings are the only creatures that can choose to take, or avoid, life sustaining action. Other creatures are driven only by survival instincts. REASON is the thing that makes us human - reason being the application of logic.
However, just as eating in response to hunger is not automatic, neither is activity in response to a desire for health. Eating and being physically active are matters of volition - as are all actions taken to sustain one's life.
If, in response to hunger, the choice is to not eat, starvation will occur by default. If, in response to a desire for health, inactivity and stagnation are chosen, disease and illness will occur by default. If nothing is done in response to the bodies natural inclination toward health (as evident by its ability to heal itself) then your bodies natural inclination toward health - QUALITY LIFE - will perish. It is only by default that evil wins (evil being anything against the ultimate standard - life). The only way life will ever pass you by is by default.
- Life is the objective standard and highest value.
- Health is a corollary of life.
- Health requires physical activity.
- Physical activity is an expression of the highest value and is morally good.
From this publication it is clear that bodybuilding and fitness are done by millions around the world, not because of whimsical desire - but because bodybuilding and fitness are activities done as an affirmation that life is the highest value and standard.
This means that, far from being strange, narcissistic and odd, bodybuilding and fitness are profoundly and philosophically RIGHT. People should engage in physical exercise because bodybuilding and fitness are MORAL acts, and because they are GOOD. They affirm and restate ones commitment to the highest value of all - LIFE.
If, when asked by members of the public, you are able to explain to them the moral justification of your lifestyle, you will dispel incorrect information at worst, and may even win converts to our cause at best. Carpa diem!
The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider. The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers. Further, the author does not warrant or guarantee that the information contained in written publications, from him or any source is accurate or error-free. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the publication that you may find offensive. You are solely responsible for viewing and/or using the material contained in the authored publications in compliance with the laws of your country of residence, and your personal conscience. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications.
Copyright © Clayton South, 2003 All rights reserved.
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