I am reading a book titled: Philosophy, Risk and Adventure Sports by Mike McNamee. In it he writes:
It seems humans now want safety, security, control and predictability in a lot of areas of life. We want technological risks to be as small as possible. Bridges, cars, atom reactors, aeroplanes, should be safe. We want other people to behave in a responsible and predictable manner in traffic and transport. At the same time people want to take risks. But risks should be taken in the right or relevant manner. We do not want to get hurt or die by uncontrollable and irrelevant risks. Risks must come in the right or relevant way. If I go climbing I want the rope to be secure, the equipment to be dependable. I know that there are risks in climbing but they must come in the right way, be relevant. And which risks are relevant? The relevant risks are those that can be predicted, controlled, mastered and dealt with by me through use of my skills. It is like the relation between truth and knowledge. My belief that it is snowing on the North Pole at a certain time may be right. But unless it is the snowing on the North Pole that causes my belief we do not say that I have knowledge. If I guess something and I am right my belief is true, but I do not have knowledge of it as such. Knowledge demands more than mere justified belief. In a similar manner my risk taking should be related to the relevant risks in a certain manner. I think people need challenges of the right sort and they want to master risks, in a relevant way. This is typically what we do in nature or environments that pose definable challenges to us. I think we need to develop a society where this is possible.
I am reading this book because at one time I was an “Adventure Sports” type; climbing cliffs, rappelling off of bridges and jumping out of planes. I don’t participate in those much activities anymore. Why? Well it’s not out of any fear of risk or physical inability, I just sort of grew out of it.
I believe those hobbies were more of a “testing ground” than a hobby for me than a “calling”. I got into them in my early 20’s. That period of uncertainty between high school, college and the working world. That grey area in American culture between adolescent and man. These challenges allowed me to test my fears and my ability to face them. I think that they had a direct influence on the course of my life. Before them I probably would have stuck to the “safe side” and lived a life of office work in a field I was competent in but didn’t “love”. Taking those risks allowed me to take other “risks” in my life. I enlisted. I changed my career path into law enforcement and found my calling.
I also like to read this stuff because so much “philosophy of sport” can be translated into self-defense and “warriorship”. I can see how the authors points on the differences between “truth and knowledge” can be applied to those fields.
How many people adhere to training protocols and”techniques” based on the assurances of their instructors that they will be effective? If the teacher has prevailed in combat because of his skill than there is “truth” to his words, but until YOU can apply them you will not have “knowledge” of that truth. That’s why training as close to reality is so important.
Likewise, the authors points about acceptable risk has direct application to self-defense. What risks are you willing to take? What sort of experience, training and equipment will give you the confidence to change that level of acceptable risk, and do you possess the “knowledge” that your training and tools will make any difference?