E002 - On Being Competent...and Dangerous

This week on Across the Peak we will dive into what it means to be competent and dangerous. 


Intro Stuff

  • Justin's Drink: Grapefruit Sculpin
  • Rich's Drink: Black Toad Ale
  • We also discuss the origins of IPA. India Pale Ale was extra-hopped because hops has antiseptic properties that helped beer survive the journey from Britain to India.
  • Quote of the Day! Beer is not the answer for anything. It's the question. And the answer is ALWAYS yes.

I. Intro the Warrior Ethos... 

The word, “ethos” is from the ancient Greeks. For them ethos meant “an accustomed place.”  And the first time we find the use of the word ‘ethos’ it applied to animals. As when Homer used the word, he used it to describe the place where the Greek warriors kept their horses after a battle against Trojans. And it was in this ‘ethos,’ this accustomed place, that the horses were at ease. 

By the time of Herodotus, the word “ethos” came to mean “that which generates the sense of custom, habit, usage, practice." The idea of ethos continued to evolve into “manners, customs, personal disposition, character,” and then became what we today call “moral character.” Moral character and virtue is critical in the concept of being competently dangerous as we shall see below. 

II. Intro Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson...

His first book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief was published in 1999, a work which examined several academic fields to describe the structure of systems of beliefs and myths, their role in the regulation of emotion, creation of meaning, and motivation for genocide. His second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, was released in January 2018.


III. Stossel interview with Dr. Peterson...

Peterson, “It’s very helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and dangerous and take their proper place in the world.”

Stossel, “Competent and dangerous? Why dangerous?”

“There’s nothing to you otherwise,” Peterson replies. “If you’re not a formidable force, there’s no morality in your self-control. If you’re incapable of violence, not being violent isn’t a virtue. People who teach martial arts know this full well. If you learn martial arts, you learn to be dangerous, but simultaneously you learn to control it … Life is a very difficult process and you’re not prepared for it unless you have the capacity to be dangerous.”

Stossel, “By dangerous that implies I should be ready to threaten someone, to hurt somebody.”

Peterson, “No, you should be capable of it. But that doesn’t mean you should use it."

IV. Competent? 

Competent: [kom-pi-tuh nt] having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully. 

V. Dangerous? 

 Dangerous: [dān-jə-rəs]  able or likely to inflict injury or harm. 



VI. Virtue and Moral Character...

All people should feel a deep respect for competence because chances are you are already a very competent person. At a minimum you are competent in your job, or else you wouldn't have one. However, not everyone is dangerous, but they should be. For instance, being able and willing to inflict injury or harm on another person may be necessary to escape an assault on your person. It will also make you more physically confident because you realize that if the necessity arises you are capable of being dangerous to those around you. 

You can look at it this way, Stephen Hawkins was a brilliant and intellectually competent man. However if he told you he was going to kick your ass, you'd probably giggle. I don't want anyone to giggle if I tell them I am going to kick their ass, and neither do you. 

Virtue begets moral character and that requires that we exhibit a quality that is considered morally good or desirable in a person. So, where's the virtue in Stephen Hawkins for not beating the crap out of you - when HE CAN'T. Thus, how  can he be virtuous if he is incapable of actually bending others to his will? He can't.

The virtue and moral character stems from the fact that we are competent, even when that competence is the application of controlled violence, for without the ability to inflict harm, no virtue can be achieved in not inflicting it. 


Book of the Week

The Way of Men by Jack Donovan. Author Jack Donovan pictured above.

Be Safe. And if you can't be safe, be dangerous. 

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Justin Carroll