I recently went on a long journey, across oceans and continents, in search of something. I don’t know what it was, and I know I didn’t find it, but I did find something. Due to the wonderfulness of the internet, I listened to many hours of Tangentially Speaking, the podcast of one Dr. Christopher Ryan, PHD (a Mixed Mental Arts guest, and likely unwitting progenitor.) Podcasts are at once one sided conversations that we all eavesdrop on, and at the same time, humans gathering around a campfire sharing stories. It’s the latter point that sticks out when listening to Chris Ryan.
The basic philosophy, the core understanding of the world, that Chris Ryan always comes back to is that humans, throughout time and space, bound by their biology, are all the same. And yet, we are different. The fundamental sameness is our hunter-gatherer, animal nature. The difference is culture.
Understanding the cultural aspect, which is the core competency of Mixed Mental Arts, requires understanding of our hunter-gather selves. Chris Ryan, with Sex at Dawn, Tangentially Speaking, and the forthcoming Civilized to Death, is reconciling culture and our own human nature.
知己知彼，百戰不殆/Zhī jǐzhī bǐ, bǎi zhàn bù dài. Know yourself, know the other, and no battle will be perilous. This chengyu, commonly translated as “Know the enemy and know yourself, and you will not see peril in one hundred battles,” comes from The Art of War. I like my translation better, because it’s a bit more literal. Not all challenges you face in life are enemies. To truly know the other is to know what is an enemy and what is not. And sometimes, it can feel like our own human nature is our own worst enemy. Christopher Ryan is helping us understand ourselves, so that our battles are not perilous.
Go to https://chrisryanphd.com/ and get to know his work, you will not be disappointed. I’m going to continue breaking down Ryan-isms as much as I can.