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Ayn Rand and Martial Arts: Barrowman on Bruce Lee

JARS contributor, colleague, and friend, Kyle Barrowman, has written a provocative new piece, "Bruce Lee and the Perfection of Martial Arts (Studies): An Exercise in Alterdisciplinarity." Here is the abstract to the article:

This essay builds from an analysis of the philosophical underpinnings of Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do to an analysis of the current state of academic scholarship generally and martial arts studies scholarship specifically. For the sake of a more comprehensive understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of jeet kune do, and in particular its affinities with a philosophical tradition traced by Stanley Cavell under the heading of perfectionism, this essay brings the philosophical writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ayn Rand into contact with Lee’s writings during the time that he spent formulating his martial arts philosophy. Additionally, this essay uses the philosophical insights of Emerson, Rand, and Lee to challenge longstanding academic dogma vis-a-vis poststructuralist philosophy, the methods of academic intervention, and the nature of philosophical argumentation. Though pitched as a debate regarding the content and the status of Bruce Lee and his combative philosophy, this essay endeavors to inspire scholars to (re)examine their conceptions of Bruce Lee, martial arts, and martial arts studies.

The article appears in the latest edition of Martial Arts Studies, hosted by Cardiff University Press, devoted to "Bruce Lee's Martial Legacies" and is co-edited by Kyle. In his contribution, he brings Bruce Lee together with Ayn Rand and Ralph Waldo Emerson---while taking a few additional jabs at poststructuralism, as he's done in such articles as "Philosophical Problems in Contemporary Art Criticism: Objectivism, Poststructuralism, and the Axiom of Authorship" and "The Future of Art Criticism: Objectivism Goes to the Movies," which appeared in the December 2017 and December 2018 issues, respectively, of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

What is of particular interest about Kyle's essay is how he highlights Rand's relationship to a philosophical tradition of perfectionism (which, of course, has Aristotelian roots) and his view of Ralph Waldo Emerson as an ally of Objectivist philosophy. Folks can download the article here [pdf link].