PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, April 24, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Be water, my friend

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Be water, my friend.

Many of you would have recognised this as a quote by the
American/Chinese actor, Bruce Lee.

But all quotations tend to be given by definition out of context and
certainly free from an elaborate explanation by the speaker. This might
be a drawback, but as I say in my few paragraphs on the topic, we still
need special skills to understand advice, and what is a quote if not
some advice to share or to follow?

In the meantime Ruel has sent us the link to his essay:

Hello Lawrence,
The link to the essay I wrote on "Be Water, My Friend" is:
Thanks and see you on Sunday.
All the best,


Be water, my friend

Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it
grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like
water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water
into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes
the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (2000); here, Lee was reciting lines he
wrote for his short lived role on the TV series Longstreet
( and this is a link on Vimo with
Bruce Lee repeating the quote )

I cannot say that I am familiar with the ideas of Bruce Lee and
certainly not versed in Asian ideas and philosophical thinking. But the
full quote from the actor is on the one hand suggesting that we should
be open minded and on the other we should behave by adapting to the
situation. Basically, the kernel of the advice is to blend in or go with
the flow, and to keep an open mind.

From our perspective our main issues are personal identity,
behaviourism and the philosophy of learning. But an issue that we need
to settle is whether "becomes" in " (water) becomes the cup" is a
behavioural becoming, that is it behaves like a cup (it does not) or
whether it becomes a cup by stealth or deception? Of course water does
not become anything it just stays water and its "function" is to occupy
the space of cup according to the dictates of gravity and molecular
motion in a pre defined shape.

Maybe the most important aspect of this quote is "Don't get set into one
form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water." This
is certainly something we can follow and do with our brain and certainly
something we should strive to achieve. Being ridged in mind and unable
to change one's outlook is clearly a strategy that has many drawbacks.
The most serious of which is learning: to learn means to change one's
perspective, beliefs and mind. We cannot change and become something
else, whether we wish to change our character or to deceive others,
without learning how and what to do.

An interesting observation is the human phenomenon of people looking up
to role models and paying more attention to celebrities than anyone
else. The phenomenon of the celebrity (see our meeting on the
Personality Cult) can be a double edged sward. A celebrity is a powerful
magnet to attract the attention of people (at least the fans) in a very
short time, but on the other hand the sound bites might be meaningless,
irrelevant and maybe naive.

It is bad enough when professional people give us advice, and the advice
of our friends can be as helpful as a quote from the bible or a hungry
rattle snake, but what is evident is that we need to be clever enough to
take advantage of good advice from who ever. But if we fail to learn the
skills to take good advice our brain would be no better than an empty
cup filled with epistemological effluent, also known as mumbo jumbo,
after all not all liquids are water.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
From: January 15 at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Be water, my friend

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