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Academia.edu | Black Swans, the Brain, and Philosophy as a Way of Life : Pierre Hadot and Nassim Taleb on Ancient Scepticism | Michael Chase

One of the most interest books I’ve read recently which, while not “ about ” Scepticism,embodies and preaches a Sceptical world view, is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s bestsellerThe Black Swan:the Impact of the Highly ImprobablePenguin 2007. Taleb, an economist andsecurities trader by profession, sets out to show the power of the unexpected in contemporarylife, particularly in economics. The most important factors in history are what he calls BlackSwans5, that is, extraordinary events that are unpredictable by their very nature, but have atremendous impact on economic, social and cultural events. Yet since they cannot, bydefinition, be foreseen, neither can future developments as a whole, either in finance or in anyother field. Taleb espouses Sceptism as the only philosophy adequate to the contemporaryworld, because the quantity of what we do not know always vastly outweighs what we do orcan know. Pointing to the falsity and/or inanity of almost all economic or political predictions,Taleb preaches an epistemic humility that leads us to withhold judgment. What he appreciatesin such Sceptics as Sextus Empiricus is their anti-dogmatism : they “ doubted theories andcausality and relied on past experience in their treatment ”, “ relying on seeminglypurposeless trial and error ” p. 46, a methodology Taleb sees as ideal for dealing with BlackSwans, that is, minimizing exposure to negative ones and taking advantage of positive ones.

via Academia.edu | Black Swans, the Brain, and Philosophy as a Way of Life : Pierre Hadot and Nassim Taleb on Ancient Scepticism | Michael Chase.
HatTip to Dave Lull.

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