The Bed of Procrustes

I have always been a fan of aphorisms, and I got to know today about a recent book "The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I haven't read it but I got a good taste of it by looking inside it on Amazon. The central idea of the book is luring:

"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 hubristic side effects—modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

Playful and irreverent, these aphorisms will surprise you by exposing self-delusions you have been living with but never recognized."

And a sample of aphorisms that caught my eye:

* An idea starts to be interesting when you get scared of taking it to its logical conclusion.

* To understand the liberating effect of ascetism, consider that losing all your fortune is much less painful than losing only half of it.

* The test of originality for an idea is not the absence of one single predecessor, but the presence of multiple but incompatible ones.

* They will envy you for your success, for your wealth, for your intelligence, for your looks, for your status -- but rarely for your wisdom.

* Hatred is much harder to fake than love. You hear of fake love; never of fake hate.


Komal said…
I've always been an anti-fan of aphrosisms.
uRead-bookstore said…
Every aphorism here is about a Procrustean bed of sorts - we humans, facing the limits of
our knowledge, the unseen and the unknown, specific vocabularies and pre-packaged narratives. A Procrustean bed is an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced.
Nassim has nicely used the ancient greek myth to coroborate the present scenario.
The book- Bed of Procrustes comes across as an interesting read.


Nicholas Taleb