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December 28, 2012

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Im not sure I really like these pop soft-science books. I'm not saying that these chaps dont come up with an interesting thought or two, usually distilled into some smart-arse pithy buzzword - like anti-fragility.

And I'm not sure it really helps to define things in negative terms, for example in terms of what something is not. It just emphasises how vague the underlying principle being discussed really is.

Its a bit like the Tao Te Ching, which in my limited understanding, attempts to try define absolute reality in terms of what it is not.

How the fuck does anyone know what absolute reality is not?

Thank you kindly and seasons greetings. In the immortal words of Mike Myers: "Lets get pissed!"

George, I think you'd like "Antifragile." It's not at all abstract or hypothetical. And Taleb describes antifragility in very positive terms. It's a quality of natural and human systems which can be observed and measured.

Taleb made his living as a trader for quite a while. He's very much into concrete practical life, not airy-fairy theorizing. In fact, he detests theories, preferring phenomenology. This causes that. Or this leads to that, in an observable fashion.

However, Taleb correctly observes that often we can't predict what will happen. Yet theorists believe they can. I like his emphasis on understanding how a system responds to the world, rather than trying to predict exactly what the system will do.

Brian,

yes, there is something interesting about systems, i can see why it grabbed your fancy with your background.

It is a bizarre phenomena, where it seems that so many systems are more than the sum of their constiuent parts.

the cell system made up of countless atoms, the body system made up of countless cells, the earth system (if there's anything to lovelock's gaia), etc and possible the universal system.

but the interesting thing about these systems is how them seem to form to offer more than their parts, some sort of emergent complexity.

the body made of cells, which in turns is made of atoms. the cells in our body are constantly being divided and destroyed and renewed until death, our physical form ages with our body system being formed of a completely different set of atoms, and yet consciousness somehow still exists. The sense of self is maintained.

I presume your system theory studies were more on physical (material) systems, but i suspect your personal interest in spirituality, and the holistic rather than reducible approach seemingly adopted by many mystic traditions, made you ask similar questions.

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