NPL Book Review: Antifragile, Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicolas Taleb

Antifragile, Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicolas Taleb (2012)

A philosophical view of this work:  I like to read. I decided to read this book after years of watching it gather dust. As a former library administrator I’ve encountered  brilliant ideas that have appeared and evaporated like water into steam.  The ideas encountered here are being tested.

I admit my reading experiences gave me a certain apprehension of  “intellectual-engineers” who write books as if they found the “right angle” and something new under the sun that others have over-looked.  In which case I would suggest reading Ecclesiastes. That said, Taleb’s ideas are generally luminous.

Not much in life indeed is linear like, for example, the drawings of an architect, economist, engineer or scientist. Equality and fairness never existed as history shows us and demonstrated in an abundance of literary works from every continent in the world.

Theories, whether economic or political as modern history points out, are at a loss to get to the very root of the shocks to our system. e.g. economic models devised in the laboratories of our mind and classrooms and acted on out in real time. Is Antifragile the answer?

Educational laboratories and classrooms are necessary, informally and formally, and need to be approached with due humility and respect for the undertaking. It can be fun. Ideas in and of themselves have value until proven otherwise. We exist, grow and progress because of ideas and their application. 

Still, reality can be rather chaotic. And from an experiential point of view revolutions are never linear. All revolutions whether in an idea format or literal landscape of human activity are chaotic, regardless or because of the personalities and actions of the power brokers – as one example. Sometimes we have to follow the money.

Small changes affect us on a daily basis especially if you’re impoverished or physically or emotionally disadvantaged to begin with, the impact is multi-fold when the changes are large.  How resilient are you and can you move beyond the resilience factor as a human within the context of your circumstances? 

Volatility can be a wonderful learning tool or it can literally kill if the resilience is absent and you’re unable to adapt to the stressors in your life. There are excellent examples of small doses of the stressor in medicine that can help you become stronger. The variables are context and perhaps should include a definition of “well-developed human being,”  particularly given the authoritarian personalities the world continues to experience. 

What don’t we know about being human? What new economic, political and scientific principles should we devise to match the circumstances in which we find ourselves at this moment? The ideas in this book are fascinating, curious and some are provocative in a holistic sense. As mentioned, antifragile is being tested today.