Timeless Ideas | September 5, 2021
Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.
Of freedom and of life he only is deserving who every day must conquer them anew.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.
― Michel Montaigne
I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
― Marcus Aurelius
Some years ago I was struck by the large number of falsehoods that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by the highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them. I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last.
Rene Descartes in Meditations on First Philosophy
My characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on. These types often consider themselves the “victims” of some large plot, a bad boss, or bad weather. Finally, a thought. He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once. And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some people are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor and their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous.
Robert Greene in The 48 Laws of Power
Articles Worth Reading
Doree Shafrir | Vox
Practicing the piano as an adult, was completely different than when I had practiced as a kid. To the extent that I felt obligated to practice, it was an obligation to myself — not to anyone else. The repetition calmed me; going over tricky bits in each piece I was learning was incredibly satisfying. I don’t plan on ever performing for an audience, I’m not monetizing it in any way, I’m not doing it for anything other than sheer enjoyment and the satisfaction of seeing myself get better at something solely for the sake of getting better at it.
Eleanor Morgan | The Guardian
When we find it difficult to say ‘no’ at work or at home, our responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming. For good mental health, focusing on our own needs and capabilities is crucial. It can be hard, but honesty is a position to strive for. For any human being, Olympian or otherwise, learning when to say no can bring peace. And isn’t that something we all deserve?
Natalie Wolchover | Quanta Magazine
What we’ve done is to show that even if time is a perfect, classical and smooth parameter governing time evolution of quantum systems, we would only be able to track its passage imperfectly, through stochastic, irreversible processes. This invites a question, could it be that time is an illusion and smooth time is an emergent consequence of us trying to put events into a smooth order? It is certainly an intriguing possibility that is not easily dismissed.