I’ve picked up Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil again. Nassim Taleb’s particular brand of pragmatic epistemology made me think back to Nietzsche’s brand of the same, and the similarities are interesting. Taleb talks about “Platonicity”, or formalized ideas that are disconnected from practical uses for various reasons — the Gaussian “Bell Curve” probability distribution is one example. Nietzsche talks about the “Will to Truth”, which is a mistaken human drive towards truth and rationality at the fault of leaving room for tail events that defy explanation under such “truths”.
Both Taleb and Nietzsche have their reasons to favor an epistemology that offers more explanatory values than just true or false. Taleb’s epistemology must account for Black Swans, and “Platonified” epistemologies cannot do this because they can’t arrive at an idealized conclusion without ignoring some messy, inexplicable details. Nietzsche’s epistemology seeks to overcome unnecessarily rigid types of thinking or being (e.g. Hegel’s dialectic, Christian theology, positive science). While it’s important to qualify one’s reasons for doing away with traditional epistemic models, these two appeal to me towards the end of keeping my mind clear of cob webs and alert to opportunities I might miss while adhering to business as usual.
If you haven’t read Antifragile or Beyond Good and Evil, they’ll handsomely repay careful reading.