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Existence, Necessity and Potential -- The Bodybuilder Arguement/Fallacy and How To Understand Potential

Updated: Jul 3

A gallant man smoking


The article argues against the "Bodybuilder Argument," which suggests that because you have the potential to do something, you must do it. I use the example of bodybuilding to show that just because you can build muscle, doesn't mean you should. They argue that potential is a possibility, not a necessity.
The article expands this concept beyond physical fitness to other areas of life, such as having children, getting a higher education, or getting married. These are all things people can choose to do, but there's no obligation to do any of them.
I conclude by arguing that people should focus on their own desires and not be pressured by societal expectations. They should develop their courage and critical thinking skills to make their own choices about how to live their lives.
This can provide a sense of liberation from societal constraints, by seeking alternative solutions which can actually solve our problems.

Introduction: Why Are You Not a Bodybuilder?

Let me begin this article with a thought experiment: Are you a bodybuilder? If not, why not? Your physique possesses immense potential, waiting to be sculpted through merciless training. Ignoring this potential retains you to average strength, at best, and lowers it, at worst.

See how is this a fallacy?

This concept, which I call the Bodybuilder Argument, extends beyond the gym. It applies to anything with inherent potential, often mistakenly seen as a mandatory path. It also extends:

Let's dig into this further like an unexplored ruby deposit. Imagine being born with the capacity to create life. Does this then necessitate procreation? Just because you can build a bodybuilder's physique doesn't mean you must. Likewise, having a reproductive organ does not mean you must use it to reproduce.

Understanding The Argument's Fallacy

The Bodybuilder Argument confuses opportunity as destiny. While potential exists, it's not a higher calling by its own. You are either forced or influenced to see it as such, or you genuinely see it as such by your own free[r] will. The idea of potential-as-destiny is that of perception. And perception is a choice. The state of being in a metaphorical matrix, is a product of choice. Expanding the potential of our intelligence can better allow us to understand of the unconscious choices we make. You know, they can do you harm.

The Bodybuilder Arguement a product of "The Way Things Are" Fallcy. You cannot effectively accept other ways of life if you undoubtedly think your ways are the best. Observe this flawed reality. Do you think looking fit like Johnny Bravo will get you true love? Muscles and other attractive physical features, are not always enough, and for good reason. To quote Swani Jena of Medium:

If you are born a human being, whether man or woman, pretty or ugly — and you don’t have a purpose in life, you are as good as doomed.
No one needs a crown, evening gown and sash to have a purpose in life.

What difference is there, in things such as reproduction, higher education, getting a driver's license, marrying, enlisting in the military, and so on? You can do these things, but even if you should do them, there is, ultimately, no existential motive or being that forces you to do them. The only force is a perceived one.

A paper tiger is, as such, most frightening when it creates the idea that you should be intimidated. But should we be really intimidated from the world's largest cannon, when the Schwerer Gustav Gun isn't a practical weapon?

Why We Should Also Develop Virtue

Conversely, what quality is a body-building boyfriend that would abandon you the moment he finds someone other than you he suddenly likes? This isn't a shallow matter. It's in fact quite ethical... It concerns relationship ethics, specifically.

Reality is often far more complex than mere orthodoxy, and requires a unity/synergy of several values. In the case of "If I'll to be a bodybuilder, I'll be more attractive", let us quote Confucius:

Confucius quote

Let us not, in any way, confuse potential and recommendations, using our many convincing biases. The fact they tell us to act in a certain way, does not make it a Kantian-like Categorical Imperative, correct?. Orders, including one's from our intuition's authority fallacy... Without the well-critical mind, tell us we must or mustn't do things without our rationality's ability to resist. How can the herd mentality be surpassed if there is not a strong-enough cognitive force to oppose it?

How Conformity Breeds Stagnation

Why do we succumb to conformity at all times? We often fall into conformity because we fear what others will think of us. Metaphorically, we might want to be bodybuilders because our peers are also ones. But we cannot be virtuous, and therefore more attractive, if we choose to remain cowards. Virtue can be seen as a dimension of love, designated to further the welfare of another.

But while conformity may highlight one methodology, it might compel you from seeing the bigger picture. As such, being "a bodybuilder" is insufficient, when reality calls for the application of several methodologies, to solve the same concern. Thus, physical attraction alone could use attraction of other kinds, as well.

Must we solely use training to develop our muscles, due to our influence by popular culture's idealized body standard? Should we be bodybuilders so we won't feel left behind, and feel like outsiders?

Solving the Bodybuilder Arguement: The Value of Courage

Observe how such reasons, to develop oneself, are based on fear. You might improve your body. But can you really hone it until you'll finally feel content? How can you feel content if you prioritize perfectionism over contentment? Ironically, perfectionism can draw you further into depression. And you cannot love yourself, if your self-image causes you great sadness. Furthermore, the opposite of love is not hatred, but fear. To quote Liam Blume:

The rejection of a set of features that we do not accept in ourselves causes many problems. When we do not accept ourselves out of fear, we do not love ourselves. Fear is the opposite of love.

If we want to be loved more, why hide our insecurity behind a temple of muscle? Why not consider working on your courage, instead? For courage is not the absence of fear. It's rather the ability to act despite it.

You can't love effectively if you refuse to be courageous. And you can't love effectively, if you choose criticism over appreciation. It is something that can in fact destroy relationships.

A person you love is mentally distressed. What use would your V-shaped body be if your heart isn't strong enough to embrace him/her, and assist them in their recovery? Can you really help a distressed person by focusing on criticism, more so than believing in them? To believe in a person and display it directly, after all, you must develop the muscle that is your heart.

You might claim she would need a certified psychologist. However, we require courage to see the truth, and realize we can elevate more things than mere weights. We can also lift spirits of those who are dear to us. We should understand how strong we can really be, for raw muscle may lift weights, but cannot lift a depressed heart from the pit of despair. You cannot flex your way to help others. What you can do, is to focus less on your ego, and direct your attention at the problem at hand. It is the mature thing to do.

Whether I be rejected as insane for my unconventional methodologies, I care not. To quote Mr. John Duran:

John Duran quote


Look around you but look deeply, too. There is more to life than society, religion, funds, and transactional benefits. The concern of "What will others think about me?" might not deserve such importance, when you have the power within you to act despite it. There is, first and foremost, yourself and your true desires. Reinforcing them with logic can yield greater results than exclusively reinforcing your body with muscle growth.

The only "necessary" thing in the world is survival. Once we fail at it, we cease to exist, and then, we cannot do anything, because, we'll be dead! Therefore, survival is the basis of all potential.

In the end, the fear of many is the fear of being a "klumnik", a being that hasn't done anything significant to be respected by their society. And yet, you can realize your freedom, not only from the law, but from the norms as well. You can realize, then, that contribution and problem-solving can be done without trophies and without a bias of prestige.

In other words, it is pointless to focus on methodologies that do not, yield, or even hinder, the results you're looking for.

Why would society force upon you its so-called "unwritten laws" and "unwritten ideals", when you have both the logic, the discipline and the faith in your actions, to create the success you want to have?

For their refusal to deeply understand your struggles, your ambitions and your pains, some people deserve to be discarded.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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