Have you ever heard tell of this dilemma? Meaning…Which would actually prevail when pitted in seeming confrontation; an immovable object or an unstoppable wind? It has also been labeled the Unstoppable Force Paradox or Shield and Spear Paradox in Chinese Mythos, by the way. If you’ve ever come across this dilemma, did you ever map through the solution? If you haven’t, can you ponder it a minute and gather your thoughts? And no. Of course not. It won’t be easy and yes, there is a solution.
The dilemma concerns both power alongside (and together with) its sister mind control, and most certainly change of course….and what relationship, if any, there exists between an object that has no real reason nor need to move (A Secret? nor does it have the ability to move of its own accord)…and a wind so strong it can’t be resisted, it moves everything that is movable.
Sounds a lot like a no-win situation correct? What is a no-win situation exactly? They are easy to see (and terrifying to experience in real life) yet somewhat harder to explain. Basically, it is a situation where there are no clear-cut answers as all answers and every decision made or not made for that matter, will end disastrously.
The underlying fundamental principal here is…
…there is no way at all for anyone involved to win.
Most common and accepted philosophical thought on this subject does indeed suggest that both the object and the wind would destroy each other. It is an impossibility for either to prevail, or even exist, after said philosophical confrontation took place.
In the interest of time (quite fortuitously) there is an example for us to utilize in order to metaphorically exemplify said situation where there is indeed a solution…according to me that is, chuckle. The most famous philosophical no-win situation is termed The Kobayashi Maru, of Star Trek fame. ‘Member that? From Wrath of Khan days? You should recall the only person to ever map the solution to the Kobayashi Maru dilemma “in the lab” essentially, was J.T. Kirk (in truth it was the screen writers who solved it but for the sake of our metaphor let’s go with Jim Kirk). How did he accomplish such a monumental (sci-fi and philosophical) task?
Why, he changed the rules of course of course.
Let’s change the rules of our own little dilemma, shall we?
Though, we do need to install some basic precursor ideas and definitions in order to bring the whole thing together towards the end of this essay.
The first is this. It has to do with the relationship (defined by Physics…and umm…wikipedia) between cold and heat which has no small relevance to the subject matter at hand.
a. A form of energy associated with the motion of atoms or molecules and capable of being transmitted through solid and fluid media by conduction, through fluid media by convection, and through empty space by radiation.
b. The transfer of energy from one body to another as a result of a difference in temperature or a change in phase.
Refers to the condition or subjective perception of having low temperature, the absence of heat. Since temperature relates to the thermal energy held by an object or a sample of matter, which is the kinetic energy of the random motion of the particle constituents of matter, an object will have less thermal energy when it is colder and more when it is hotter.
Cold and heat are often thought of as opposites. The reality is, cold isn’t the opposite of heat. Cold is the absence of heat…and if heat is reduced (removed, to be more accurate) things get chillier. Even more it can be said (in definition and condition)…it can be said that cold is an absence of literal energy in the form of heat as heat is an accepted representation of energy within the field of Physics. Pay close attention to both (a) and (b) within the Heat definition. There is a bit of a Psychological magic Shell Game about to take place. The first defintion is the most important one to be somewhat certain. -blink blink-
It is much the same way with movement and change. Stasis, or the condition of being stationary (at rest), is just an absence of movement in many respects. It truly isn’t that the object and the wind are either negative or positive (or even oppositional), they are both what they are…it is what it is, ya ken…though they are both set in an extreme state defined by their own perceived singular condition with only degrees (metaphorically and real world degrees) separating the two due to the nature of Physics, contrary to the dilemma question as it is posed.
The immovable object and the unstoppable wind are, in essence, already co-existing within a relationship that shouldn’t be assumed to be an oppositional one, and the definition of the immovable object (stability) is derived from an absence (to the extreme degree) of the effects (or the absence of) the unstoppable wind (change/movement), much like cold is defined as an absence of its generally understood “opposite,” that being heat. This is kinda how nature works sometimes if ya ken. Well. Not sometimes. MOST times.
The immovable object is an agent of stability. It, essentially, is at complete rest all the time ie. changless. Very similar to the greatest unchanging abstract we as a conscious people will ever experience. It’s called…
The Past! – Unchangeable
…though it can be redefined.
The wind is very much an agent of change, and an unknown one at that. Much like, say…
The Future! – Unknown and Unstoppable
…though it can be prepared for and influenced to some degree.
The immovable object can also be defined as resistance, no? It can’t be moved, nor can it be changed, sometimes (seemingly) to its own detriment.
The unstoppable wind is defined by endless movement…often without any verifiable direction at all.
Again, sometimes (seemingly) to its own detriment.
Here is a summary of these statements regarding the unchanging past and the unstoppable future up ’til this point of the essay, and one I myself dreamed up while on vacation with my baby.
The past is an absence of the future – T. Michael
It is what it isn’t
It is what it isn’t as my baby is fond of saying.
The answer to the dilemma, as well as a tease, has to do with the immovable object…and of course, Bruce Lee, along with one of my personal heroes Phillip Zimbardo, Master of all things Psyche. Ya had to know Bruce Lee would be at the center of this argument, chuckle. It is his type of dilemma. And Zim? Zim exists in a class all his own, or should I say they kinda sorta for reals, broke the mold after him. He has set and continues to reset any and every standard as it comes to Social Psychology and most likely every other -ology under the Psych classifications for learning.
Let’s break it down – MC Hammer
(Yes I just did that)
Alone, the immovable object is in a state of definition, all by its lonesome.
Alone, the unstoppable wind is in a state of definition, all by its lonesome.
They don’t appear to co-exist in this light, taken separately.
Hmmm…yet they don’t exactly sound that different and inseparable now do they?…when put in a slightly redefined context of relationship as heat is with cold and the past is to the future, just like I have begun to do.
(That’s another tease, yet a subtle yet important one which draws us closer to achieving closure on our Kobayashi Maru dilemma)
Wait. Which part is the tease?
A sister-idea of context is of course, Perception.
People hear me spout out my Perception madness all the time. It’s somewhat messy and confusing on a surface level, yet? below the surface it is an elegant answer…so very elegant…as a matter of Counseling and People Watching fact, it is such an elegant solution that the process of Perception actually does solve most everyday problems when dealing with people, or at the very least understanding the principal of Perception helps us to understand why people do what it is that peoples generally speaking do when said peoples baffle and confuse us.
Perception can be summarized in this way…
“The process of perception begins with an object in the real world, termed the distal stimulus or distal object. By means of light, sound or another physical process, the distal object stimulates the body’s sensory organs. These sensory organs transform the input energy (‘member that) into neural activity—a process called transduction. This raw pattern of neural activity is called the proximal stimulus. These neural signals are transmitted to the brain and processed. The resulting mental re-creation of the distal stimulus is the percept. Perception is sometimes described as the process of constructing mental representations of distal stimuli using the information available in proximal stimuli.”
Notice that Perception is the process of constructing mental images from all of the sensory input available to us, and nowhere does it suggest that what percept (image) we form deep inside our gray matter is an actual and literal interpretation of the distal object. Meaning, we take what info we get from our senses having to do with the distal object (what we are seeing), and construct an image (thought) in our mind based on that and that alone. It is not a camera snapshot of the distal object. The percept is a mental representation of how much or how little our bodily senses interpret or observe the distal object. For example, if one is color blind, one will see a colorless object even though the object does in fact have colorings and shadings outside of what most color blind people experience through the sensation we know of as sight.
Things getting clear as a misty rain in a deep fog?
Let’s inject another basic precursor idea.
The final say (big picture) up to this date in time on the subject of movement and flow vs. stasis and rigidity is of course, Master Bruce Lee. It is a pretty easy statement to make given the sustainability of his research and influence on the fields of both Martial Arts and Philosophy as well as Human Behavior as a secondary support structure for his Tao (way).
“A good JKD man does not oppose force or give way completely. He is pliable as a spring; he is the complement and not the opposition to his opponent’s strength. He has no technique; he makes his opponent’s technique his technique. He has no design; he makes opportunity his design. One should not respond to circumstance with artificial and “wooden” prearrangement. Our actions should be like the immediacy of a shadow adapting to its moving object. Your task is simply to complete the other half of the oneness spontaneously. In combat, spontaneity rules; rote performance of technique perishes.”
…Our actions should be like the immediacy of a shadow adapting to its moving object. Your task is simply to complete the other half of the oneness spontaneously…
Now that is prettily said, no? It is much the same direction I am going to draw you dear reader, in that B. Lee sees combat (or any action for that matter) as a relationship between the two seemingly oppositional forces or movements. They are not inseparable.
The immovable object doesn’t appear to have power, only control. It can’t even move itself. The unstoppable wind is all power and is seemingly without control…especially over the immovable object. If the object can’t be moved by anything, nor can it move itself, what can the unstoppable wind reasonably (or unreasonably for that matter…hey it’s the wind who can really tell where it comes from nor where it blows)…what can the unstoppable wind reasonably alter in order to bring movement (change) to the object without ever directly altering or touching said immovable object?
If you know me, and many of you do, you will recognize where this might be going.
The object is immovable because the object does not change. It can’t change. That’s why it is considered immovable. It is chained to its own perceptions if you will, bound by its own view of the world from its stationary position at the proverbial center of its known universe. I have definitely been there. ‘Nuther secret? Everyone is there on a daily, hourly, second…ly basis. Moment by moment, we are given only to walking in our own proverbial shoes and no one else can do it for us. Not one human individual can truly step out of their own bodily senses and see things completely and entirely from another person’s viewpoint. Why? Based on a simple observation of the retina we find that every single person on earth sees life differently (physically and therefore mentally) than anyone else. That is why retinal scans are so reliable. We each have our own map for physically seeing or not physically seeing the world. We are as much a slave to our own senses as each and every other individual walkin’ the face of the earth.
And we are also, seemingly, slaves to our own perceived past lifetime experiences.
But…are we truly anchored to our past life experiences the way we are, generally speaking, assumed to be?
Suren we cannot change the past…yet…it can be looked at through a different set of lenses can it not? And therefore, we can (potentially) percieve the past differently? Maybe redefine it a bit…or a lot?
“How we remember changes how we have lived.
Time runs both ways. We make stories of our lives.”
This quote is from my fav author of all time, Guy Gavriel Kay, and he outlines in an extraordinarily beautiful way how we can indeed change our past without changing the actual events of our past one iota (that would be impossible). It is more than an elegant equation, no? We have the ability to change our Perception of how we have lived, through hindsight and wisdom we come to differing conclusions about what we could or should have done. Sometimes even, we can see things completely different than what we actually thought took place.
Now, there is some food for thought to ponder ‘afore I wrap this all up in a neat and tidy littlle shell game package. To be continued…