Sunday, September 19, 2010

Succer vs Non Sucker....Socrates vs Fat Toni

These are two chapters from Nassim Taleb's new book.

Taleb criticizes Socrate's debate with Euthyphro on piety and replaces Euthyphro with "Fat Toni" which is Taleb's rendition of an alpha male who is averse to reading books and is more worldly and street smart than most thinkers. He is abusive, gets angry, laughs, drinks and leads a life not based on theories but on instincts.

Socrates starts to question and eventually obfuscate Euthyphro on ethics. Euthyphro was on his way to execute his father over a crime but Socrates starts asking Euthyphro to define peity and justice and ethics in general. Whenever Euthyphro tries to define, there would be some contradiction and error which Socrates would use to render his actions unjustifiable. Euthyphro finally states that he knows what he's doing but he cannot define or put his thought into words. What Euthyphro really meant was that he was following his instincts but socrates insisted that actions and ideas should be defined and justified. When debating with Fat Toni, Socrates is left speechless because Fat Toni argues that Socrates is merely confusing people about things which they know is right instinctively. The whole argument is about the value of knowledge and how seriously theories should be followed. Whether technology came first or the theories supporting the technologies came first. The whole question being debated is that humans are not naturally inclined towards knowledge and theories which in retrospect are mostly useless. On the other hand knowledge and theories have actually been derived post-hoc. Modern knowledge is about lecturing birds about flying. Birds know how to fly instinctively and mostly learn by tinkering, on the other hand ornithologist make theories on how birds learn to fly.

The two chapter are a must read, mostly for amusement and that personal pleasure over knowing that all those nerds out there are idiots.

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