Monday, 27 February 2017

Mike Mentzer: The Bodybuilder And Objectivist Intellectual

Mike Mentzer
I heard about Mike Mentzer a week ago in a Facebook discussion, and I was intrigued by the idea of an Objectivist bodybuilder. I did a Google search for “Mike Mentzer,” and found his Wikipedia page which has a commentary on not only the success that he achieved in bodybuilding related activities but also the work that he has done in popularizing Objectivism.

The Wikipedia page says: “Mentzer was an Objectivist and insisted that philosophy and bodybuilding are one and the same. He said: "Man, is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of mind and body." Thus, his books contain as much philosophy as they do bodybuilding information.” Mentzer, the author of four books and several articles, describes Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism as the best philosophy ever devised.

Dr. Chris Matthew Sciabarra’s The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies carried an interesting article on Mentzer, "Integrating Mind and Body," authored by Matthew Stoloff, in 2004. According to Stoloff, in his writings Mentzer has emphasized the value of thinking and the necessity of philosophy in bodybuilding and in life.

Several quotes from Mentzer’s books and articles are included in the seven-page article. I find this quote from Mentzer particularly interesting:

“Take the time to consider some of the of deeper implications of the fact that man is an integrated unit of matter and consciousness, a being of mind and body. Take the time to learn something about the nature of thought and the importance of logic. Learn to read critically i.,e.,seeking to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Don't make the same mistake I did in my late teens and early twenties—don’t assume that simply because something is printed that it has to be true.”

I haven't read Mentzer’s Heavy Duty: Mind and Body, but Stoloff provides a glimpse into the general flavor of the book's ideas. Here’s an excerpt:

“Mentzer’s most advanced writing can be found in Heavy Duty: Mind and Body. Such chapter headings as "The Mind: Check Your Premises" and “Nature, To Be Commanded, Must Be Obeyed” illustrate how much influence Objectivism had on Mentzer. The philosophical and theoretical principles Mentzer expounds in Mind and Body are unlike those in any other bodybuilding book. Body building treatises do not discuss philosophy as a matter of course, but Mentzer (1996, 24-25) makes no apologies: "If you’re thinking this treatise is too intellectual, too professorial, and has no place in a bodybuilding book, check your premises. Bodybuilding does not exist in a vacuum, apart from the rest of life." It is interesting to note that of the seven chapters in Mind and Body, three are exclusively on philosophy with no reference to specific exercises or training regimen. Mentzer does this for a reason; he tries to establish a foundation and argues that there is a Law of Identity and Law of Causality as regards medicine the human body, and exercise science.”

I like the movies of the famous bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger but I dislike his political views. The seemingly tough Schwarzenegger is intellectually weak and politically correct—he sides with the irrational liberals on issues like environmentalism, income equality, and egalitarian foreign policy.

It is heartening to know that the field of bodybuilding is not an exclusive liberal club. There are bodybuilders like Mike Mentzer who have rational philosophical and political ideas. 

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