Andreas Jungherr's Reviews > The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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's review
Jul 11, 11

bookshelves: philosophy, non-fiction
Read from June 07 to 11, 2011

This is a fun read that I suspect I’ll come back to many times. In this little book Taleb is his usual self, if his public persona is his usual self. In this collection of aphorisms he comments on the present with the eyes of a man steeped in classical thought. Taleb writes with a healthy distrust in institutions, especially academia, and with furor against thought practices that

“squeeze a phenomenon into the Procrustean bed of a crisp and known category (amputating the unknown), rather than suspend categorization, and make it tangible.” (p. 105)

To him this leads to sucker problems that lay also at the heart of his earlier writings:

“when the map does not correspond to the territory, there is a certain category of fool – the overeducated, the academic, the journalist, the newspaper reader, the mechanistic ‘scientist’, the pseudo-empiricist, those endowed with what I call ‘epistemic arrogance,’ this wonderful ability to discount what they did not see, the unobserved – who enter a state of denial, imagining the territory as fitting his map.” (p. 106)

For everyone interested in reality and bored by the accountant’s truths of our present day, for everyone who feels the present is lacking in erudition, wit, effortless style, and greatness – in short sprezzatura – this book will be a joy.

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