Hambrick on Logic Part 2: The First Law, the Law of Identity

This is part 2 of a guest article series from Scott Hambrick, co-host of the Barbell Logic Podcast: "In terms of universals, concepts, categories; a man is a man and can be no other.  A=A. . . . This seems self evident, that A=A.  That’s because it is. It’s axiomatic.  It’s everywhere and it should not be ignored."
By: Scott Hambrick, Co-Host of the Barbell Logic Podcast and BLOC Staff Coach
*This piece originally appeared at scotthambrick.com

In part one of this series, I described a very few of Aristotle’s axioms. He believed that understanding a few primary things about being would allow us to build valid arguments and reasoning for everything that followed, which he called the posterior. To summarize that first part, “being is.”

Aristotle ran into people who disagree.

“There are some who, as we have said, both themselves assert that is possible for the same thing to be and not to be, and say that people can judge this to be the case.”

-Metaphysics, book IV, part 4, Translated by W.D. Ross

This kind of assertion makes me crazy. I think it made Aristotle crazy too, and he wouldn’t stand for it. He makes a beautiful argument against this nonsense.  He tells us that the instant someone makes an argument for the possibility of a thing both being and not being, he has made a positive statement that, in order to be true, must exist and can never not exist.  Here’s another way of saying it. If I show that a proof exists for the ability of a given thing to exist and not exist, at the same time that proof would not exist, so this being/not being cannot be. Checkmate, game to Aristotle. Everything must be or not be.

Knowing that this is true, we can build from there.

Ari then moves on to definitions.  He says that we can use a series of words to ascribe a meaning to the word “man” and define “man.”

“If such and such is a man, then if anything is a man, that will be what being a man is.”

-Metaphysics, book IV, part 4, Translated by W.D. Ross

There is only one true definition for any given thing because if there were another definition neither would point to anything and would both be meaningless. They wouldn’t be definitive.  “Man” has one meaning, and is predicable of one subject. There are no other words that carry that meaning or predicate that subject. There can’t be another definition that says “un-man” is a “man.”  (In logic, any definition that was different than the original would be the “un-original.” Anything that isn’t cola is the un-cola.)

I think we’ve finally arrived.

We can now proclaim that A=A   This is the Law of Identity. 

In terms of universals, concepts, categories; a man is a man and can be no other.  A=A. In terms of the particular this baseball I hold is exactly this baseball I’m holding, and not the same as other baseballs. A=A.

This seems self evident, that A=A.  That’s because it is. It’s axiomatic.  It’s everywhere and it should not be ignored.

“A” is something. It stands for the subject of any assertion. For example, “Man is the rational animal.” “Man” is the subject both logically and grammatically.  (Grammar isn’t a set of weird rules the 8th grade teacher laid out. Grammar is designed to carefully convey conceptual information from one consciousness to another.)  “Is the rational animal” is the predicate both logically and grammatically, because it is something predicated of “Man.” There are lots of things predicated of “Man” and all of the things predicated of “Man” can REALLY make us crazy and look like definitions if we lose sight of the logical subject and start acting like A is not A.  I think the main trap here is when we think those things predicated of “Man” are definitive. They are not. There is one definition and it tells us that A=A.  Don’t let the bastards tell you otherwise.

Matt and Scott return to the MED toolbox to discuss the importance of PR’s in measuring the success of a program. Of course, PR’s are inherent in the novice linear progression, during which the athlete hits PR’s for 3×5 every workout, or every other workout as an advanced novice.


The PR then becomes a weekly occurrence for the early intermediate, then perhaps biweekly for the mid-intermediate. Texas Method, for instance, calls for a 1×5 PR each week on “intensity day.” For athletes more advanced than this, where we begin to enter theoretical programming territory (because, as we have discussed ad nauseam, most people, even athletes, do not advanced beyond this stage), the PR is typically discussed in terms of a 1RM. At some level, this makes sense, as advanced strength athletes are, by definition, competing in strength sports where the 1RM is tested.


An advanced athlete may train in a 6,8, or even 12-week blocks to obtain a 1RM PR. However, this does NOT mean that she does not also hit 3RM, 5RM, or sets-across PR’s during the training block. Matt believes this is a crucial and overlooked point when discussing programming, particularly the use of volume. Many of his advanced lifters hit a number of PR’s during their training cycles besides the 1RM. The implication is that, when programming, the focus should be on the PR itself, rather than adding sets. In other words, the number of sets shouldn’t be the goal, the PR for a given rep range or number of sets should be the goal.


Therefore, coaches should only prescribe as much volume as needed to continue driving PR’s for the rep ranges being trained during the cycle. For strength athletes, the 1RM remains the gold standard for measuring success, but it does not diminish the importance of other PR’s.


Most importantly, focusing on the PR when programming ensures that we are using quantifiable data to determine whether the athlete is getting stronger, instead of subjective measures such as RPE.


Got a question for Matt and Scott? Email us at questions@barbell-logic.com and we’ll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A!



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