Timeless Ideas | October 4, 2020

Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.

Quotes

I.

Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.

― Albert Camus


II.

Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.

― Blaise Pascal


III.

Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them.

― Michel Montaigne

Share

Ideas

I.

Think of it this way: There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from, and such timidity will destroy you. The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit. If you fail in this way, the hit that you take to your reputation is greatly outweighed by what you learn. Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.

Robert Greene in Mastery


II.

Our human race is affected by a chronic underestimation of the possibility of the future straying from the course initially envisioned (in addition to other biases that sometimes exert a compounding effect). To take an obvious example, think about how many people divorce. Almost all of them are acquainted with the statistic that between one-third and one-half of all marriages fail, something the parties involved did not forecast while tying the knot. Of course, "not us," because "we get along so well" (as if others tying the knot got along poorly).

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


III.

One of the best teachers in all of life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you. While someone could tell you that you are not your body, death shows you. While someone could remind you of the insignificance of the things that you cling to, death takes them all away in a second.

Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Share

Articles Worth Reading

I.

The value of uncertainty

Mark Miller, Kathryn Nave, George Deane, Andy Clark | Aeon

Understanding our own relationship with uncertainty has never been more important, for we live in unusually challenging times. Climate change, COVID-19 and the new order of surveillance capitalism make it feel as if we are entering a new age of global volatility. Where once for many in the West there were just pockets of instability (deep unpredictability) in a sea of reliability – albeit sometimes in disagreeable structures and expectations – it lately seems as if there are just pockets of stability in a swirling sea of hard-to-master change. By better understanding both the varieties and the value of uncertainty, and recognizing the immense added value of turning our own uncertainties and expectations into concrete objects apt for test and challenge, we become better able to leverage the power of our own predictive brains.


II.

A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind

Maria Popova | BrainPickings

We know so little about life that we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is. And yet most of us spend swaths of our days worrying about the prospect of events we judge to be negative, potential losses driven by what we perceive to be “bad news.” The great first-century Roman philosopher Seneca examined anxiety, and its only real antidote, with uncommon insight in his correspondence with his friend Lucilius Junior, later published as Letters from a Stoic.


III.

The Dark Side of Smart

Diana Fleischman | Nautilus

The dark side of smart is that whenever we do good works, and cooperate, we draw from our manipulative past. The even darker side of smart is that competition doesn’t just select an ability to manipulate but also an adaptive ability to be unpredictable. And one of the best ways to be unpredictable is to not know yourself. So we have evolution to thank for shielding us from complete self-knowledge. As a result, most of our own minds are shrouded in darkness. Perhaps that’s for the best. We might not like what we’d see.

Share

Want to read more? You can read the full archives here and other posts on our website as they are published.

Was this email forwarded to you? Join the club by signing up below: