Friday, November 11, 2016

Fools and Wise Men

Antifragile remains slow-going, as every few pages I encounter some interesting bit and begin staring off into the distance, wondering Don't I do something like this already?  or How would life have been different had I lived this way? I am in his section on via negativa, of addition by subtraction, which is related to apophatic theology but he applies to more mundane events.  He quotes an ancient Arab philosopher that one achieves the same gain in wisdom in life from removing a fool as from adding a wise man. Alert readers will notice how a similar theme shows up often in Proverbs.

It can sound little better than fortune-cookie advice, a bromide that cannot be contradicted but is meaningless and insubstantial. Yet I could see a great deal of how my life has been shaped by this.  I have stumbled upon this truth, but not very clearly or fully.  I could have done better.  It includes authors and artists as well as friends, certainly. I have a great many pleasant acquaintances who are fools - we can hardly go otherwise in the world - but I have mostly been able to keep them farther out in the realm of the purely social.  My friends are largely wiser.  There are a few people I would have done better to invite in closer.  Yet had I developed this as a clear rule in my head at a young age, there are many authors I would not have read a second book of, having been more alert at my first try, and many co-workers I would have chatted with less in favor of others.

Activities.  It's not the things I would add in for fun, but would leave out as useless.  Good to know, going forward.

This is not an intelligence judgement, though I think some minimum is required.  It's the people who think they are wiser than they are who are the problem.  You can't make a good fool out of someone who isn't smart enough to insist on their bad ideas and sound at least a little convincing.


Sam L. said...

My favorite cookie fortune told me, "Your infinite capacity for patience will be rewarded, sooner or later."

james said...

"every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

Texan99 said...

You might enjoy "Messy," too.