The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

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Penguin Books Limited, Dec 2, 2010 - Philosophy - 160 pages
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In this profound and playful book, Nassim Nicholas Taleb presents his ideas about life in the form of aphorisms, the world's earliest - and most memorable - literary form.

Procrustes was a character from Greek mythology who abducted travellers and invited them to spend the night in a special bed, which they had to fit to perfection. They never did. Those who were too tall had their legs chopped off; those who were too short were stretched.

Every aphorism here is about a Procrustean bed of sorts - we humans, facing the limits of our knowledge, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies and pre-packaged narratives. Only by embracing the unexpected - and accepting what we don't know - can we see the world as it really is.

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User Review  - ThothJ - LibraryThing

Interesting and thought-provoking. A more in-depth review to follow. Read full review

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User Review  - jacoombs - LibraryThing

Disappointing. Despite some clever observations and pithy statements of those obervations the overarching impression is of the author's ego. Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is an uncompromizing no-nonsense thinker for our times. He has spent his life immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge, and he has led three high-profile careers around his ideas, as a man of letters, as a businessman-trader, and as a university professor and researcher. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's School of Engineering. He is the author of the 4-volume INCERTO (Antifragile, The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and The Bed of Procrustes). Taleb refuses all awards and honours as they debase knowledge by turning it into competitive sports.

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