Skip to content

Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Guardian

The author of The Black Swan has now written a baggy, dispiriting, antisocial mess of a book. By David Runciman

If the idea is nice and neat, however, the book that houses it is just the opposite. It is a big, baggy, sprawling mess. Taleb seems to have decided not just to explain his idea but also to try to exemplify it. One of his bugbears is the fragility of most of what passes for “knowledge” – especially the kind produced by academics – which he thinks is so hung up on order and completeness that it falls apart at the first breath of disruption. So he has gone for deliberate disorder: Antifragile jumps around from aphorism to anecdote to technical analysis, interspersed with a certain amount of hectoring encouragement to the reader to keep up. The aim, apparently, is to show how much more interesting an argument can be if it resists being pinned down.

There are two problems with this. First, the book is very hard going. Everything is taken to link to everything else but nothing is ever followed through. Taleb despises mere “theorists” but still aspires to produce a theory of everything. So what we get are lots of personal reminiscences buttressed by the ideas of the few thinkers he respects, almost all of whom happen to be his friends. The result is both solipsistic and ultimately dispiriting. Reading this book is the intellectual equivalent of having to sit patiently while someone shows you their holiday snaps.

via Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – review | Books | The Guardian.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*