The Bed Of Procrustes: Philosophical And Practical Aphorisms
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The Bed Of Procrustes: Philosophical And Practical Aphorisms

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,449 ratings  ·  173 reviews
By the author of the modern classic "The Black Swan," this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect.
"The Bed of Procrustes" takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb's view of modern civiliza...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Allen Lane (first published 2010)
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PGR Nair
Aphorisms Galore!

If for any literary fan, the country Lebanon brings to mind the tender, lyrical and mystical poet Khalil Gibran, we have another compatriot from Lebanon to remember for his scathing, caustic, intelligent and often cynical observations on our society. He is none other than Nicholas Nassim Taleb, the Lebanese American essayist and scholar whose main works focus on problems of randomness, probability and uncertainty.

His 2007 book “The Black Swan “was described in a review by Sunda...more
Sabra Embury
Taleb received a $4 million advance to write this book of aphorisms as a follow-up to the Black Swan.

Some of my favorites:

Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing.

I suspect that they put Socrates to death because there is something terribly unattractive, alienating and nonhuman in thinking with too much clarity.

Education makes the wise slightly wiser, but it makes the fool vastly more dangerous.

If you kno
...more
Jon Cone
This book of aphorisms has an introduction, in which the myth of Procrustes is told, and concludes with an essay which begins, "The general theme of my work is the limitation of human knowledge." Both introduction and concluding essay strike me as special pleading. Aphorisms need no defending. They stand on their own, if they are good. Too often Taleb's aphorisms fail because they lack the necessary iron, fire, mystery. They seldom surprise. In this book, Taleb accepts the traditional concerns o...more
Richard
I liked two other Taleb books, so naturally I expected to like this book as well. And I did for the first 8 pages or so with aphorisms like "Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment" and "If your anger decreases with time, you did injustice; if it increases, you suffered injustice".

But then it went slowly downhill, devolving into the catty (We should make students recompute their GPAs by counting their grades in finance and economics backwards), the dubious (When a woman says abo...more
Marcus
Taleb is fascinating. How does a guy who relentlessly attacks the credibility of economists and academics get invited to speak in front of them so often? He's utterly arrogant and abrasive, yet he has a certain appeal that is difficult to explain. Part of it undoubtedly stems from his main idea that revolves around "how we deal, and should deal, with what we don't know." It is interesting and applicable to so many aspects of life; investing, politics, literature, philosophy and more and since it...more
Kirsti
Wow, what a douche nozzle. This guy claims he has to take a ritual bath after talking with journalists, apparently because journalists are so . . . well . . . not remotely like Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The repeated uses of the terms "sucker" and "loser" also grated. But I suppose a kind and humble person wouldn't have thought of writing a book of aphorisms in the first place.
Mark
I am afraid that the difference between this collection of aphorisms and a bowlful of fortune cookies is not so great as the author had hoped. The one aphorism that stuck with me is "What I learned on my own I still remember." If this aphorism is true, however, it follows that I will forget what others have taught me, which makes this book is immediately forgettable.
Santhosh
Nassim Taleb is definitely not the sort I'd like to get to know personally as I don't agree with about half of his life philosophies. However, in my best Voltaire voice, while I disapprove of what he says, I will defend to the death his right to print it in books and make millions off it. As with such collections, there is a mix of some fantastic and deep aphorisms while there were also a few that made me go 'meh'. Overall though, once you overcome the fact that he keeps calling everyone incompe...more
Alex
I like Taleb, I thoroughly enjoyed both his 'Fooled by Randomness' and 'Black Swan' and am very much looking forward to 'Antifragile' due out this November, but this collection of aphorisms left me softly disappointed. Most were sharp, but not razor sharp and all too often the form was compromised. A good aphorism, like a good haiku must follow certain rhythm and tempo without sacrificing the quality and succinctness of thought. Taleb's didn't quite hold it together.

Pure idea wise - there are d...more
Nada  Abandah
Jan 30, 2012 Nada Abandah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ala Awaysheh
Shelves: favorite
I picked up this book simply because it was by Nassim Taleb, and I wasn't the least disappointed.

Nassim's ability to articulate things that you already think of and know (but don't know that you know) is simply unmatched. It allows you to look at things you've always seen from a different new prespective that you didn't realize you posses.

The book is not narrative, but it is actually a series of sentences and "quote-like" thoughts that takes you a way.

When I started reading it, I decided to t...more
Toros
That Taleb is an incisive thinker, nobody could disagree. Nor could anyone with any familiarity with the aphorism reasonably object to the fact that Taleb uses the form as a launchpad for his own views - after all, this is what the aphorism has been used for for centuries.

My reason for giving the book a middling rating stems from the fact that Taleb does not grasp that the aphorism is as much a means of expressing something well as it is of expressing it briefly. Brevity he is comfortable with,...more
Patrick
If you read this book you are a sucker, or an economist. Don't bother. Taleb is a narcissistic snob.


Amazon Review:
By the author of the modern classic The Black Swan, this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect.
The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristi...more
James
A real disappointment. I enjoyed Taleb's earlier books, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan - they were both works that really had something to get across. This, however, is an exercise in empty style (or rather an attempt at it) without substance.

The aphorisms which make up the book are simply a lot of the kind of messages people put on bumper stickers - they're usually catchy, but a lot of them don't make sense, or are just stupid. The overall tone reminds me of that incredibly annoying s...more
Renata Ferreira
Eu passei a seguir o Taleb depois de um artigo que ele escreveu num livro chamado "This will change everything", em que um bando de gente falava sobre coisas que supostamente acontecerão no futuro.

O artigo dele é esse aqui: http://www.edge.org/q2009/q09_10.html...

Achei sensacional o discurso sobre o "iatrogenic, i.e., harm caused by the healer", e então fui atrás de outras coisas.

Encontrei o "Cisne Negro" que é tipo uma Teoria do Caos moderninha e não gostei.

Mas esse livro agora me supreendeu. É...more
Brian
A rare book. It probably has the highest usefulness to character ratio of any book I've found. Not to say that it's super useful, but it is very short.

The book is the equivalent of poring over Taleb's blog and twitter account for the past 10 years and picking out the stuff that is worth sharing. I can imagine the author's notebook that he kept witty and interesting-to-him stuff marked up, over and over, front and back of every page and margin. I think it would be interesting to read the notes an...more
James
This is a small book of aphorisms that centers on human error and limitation in knowledge and judgment. Taleb in the prose appendix to the book explains that he is showing in it the way human beings often by knowing too much, categorize reality in such ways as to totally misunderstand it. Taleb's concept 'The Black Swan' refers to those unpredictable historical events that totally change a whole set of realities. The recent great Black Swan was the 2008 Financial Debacle. Taleb however here goes...more
Kim
The Bed of Procrustes taught me a great deal about what inspires and angers Taleb, significantly less about what inspires and angers me, and almost nothing at all about the world. (I think "The person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself" is one of the only aphorisms that encouraged, in me, a new way to see things.)

It's not that there weren't interesting ideas in the book. It's just that most of the ideas I found interesting were ones I'd already considered...and I kept getting distract...more
John
This is a collection of aphorisms (proverbs/maxims). It is an interesting collection that flow out of Taleb's worldview. Some are wonderful, some are a bit baffling. His essay at the end is the best part of the book.

He argues forcefully that the modern conception of knowledge is one that assumes information adds to our understanding of the world--the more the better. Yet Taleb argues that this only adds noise, or confusion to our understanding of the world.

The scientific worldview acts such tha...more
Bobby
First, I think I should've read Black Swan before this book. It would have provided more insight into Taleb's area of expertise. That said, while I understand the author's goal for writing this collection, it's hard to believe someone would try and fill an entire book with their own aphorisms. Did he come up with these on the spot? Has he been collecting them throughout his life? Is it conceited to think that your pithy statements warrant this sort of devoted book?

There are some gems in here, bu...more
Vasil Kolev
Сбирщина "thought-terminating cliches".
István
“My biggest problem with modernity may lie in the growing separation of the ethical and the legal”
Erez Davidi
The Bed of Procrustes is a collection of aphorisms, which mainly concern knowledge (and its limit) and how human beings perceive their reality and lives.

Taleb argues that in order to overcome our limitation in knowledge and understanding, we try to generalize and simplify our lives, thus making it more suitable for our over-simplified models. He tries to illustrate these limitations, in his unique way, by writing very witty and enjoyable aphorisms.
Samir
Its more like a book of quotes. But each quote makes you realize how humans of the 21st century are busy trying to fit static models to life's dynamic realities. It basically follows from how life and the world around us is random and there cannot be a perfect model.

We are looking through the wrong end of the telescope
Robert Vlach
Tenhle soubor „filozofických a praktických aforismů“ od autora fenomenální Černé labutě a dalších knih jako Zrádná nahodilost či Antifragile je naprostá bomba! Bez přehánění, takto koncentrovanou nálož originálních, hlubokých a nezřídka ostře sarkastických myšlenek jsem už dlouho neviděl — etika, věda, ekonomie, investiční a kariérní strategie, ale především pronikavá filozofie v podání, jaké jsme tady už dlouho neměli. Nebudu vám kazit zážitek výběrem těch nejlepších špeků, prostě si tu knihu k...more
Daniel
There were some great aphorisms having to do with freedom, courage, experience, valor, and magnificence; and many lesser ones written from a place of narcissistic, curmudgeonly pettiness on the part of the author. Several aphorisms seemed to bitterly generalize his own particular and extraordinary experiences (how to look down on the economists, businessmen and journalists in your vicinity as they interact with you, and either win awards for their work or fade away into nothingness). Overall, th...more
Rory
Condescending, and a little repetitive (ok, we get it, you hate academics), but often thought-provoking and occasionally brilliant.
brian tanabe
This guys strikes me as an ass. Not the harshest connotation of this word, but the milder version, the arrogant version.
Henry Manampiring
Interesting, but only for the hard-core Taleb fans. Required having read his earlier books to understand.
Douglas Wilson
Very good stuff. Well worth it.
Nick Short
I think Taleb books (Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and Antifragile) are some of the most accessible books on topics usually hard to reach. This one though, some of the aphorisms will not make sense unless one of his other books was read first.

The comment sections of all of these books are all filled with the arguments he shoots down and addresses in very books being commented on, so not much will come from reading the comments, it's kind of funny. He sprouts, I think, his ideas in financ...more
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Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent two decades as a trader before becoming a philosophical essayist and academic researcher in probability theory. Although he now spends most of his time either working in intense seclusion in his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés across the planet, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Eng...more
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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder Dynamic Hedging: Managing Vanilla and Exotic Options Force Et Fragilitéréflexions Philosophiques Et Empiriques

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