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Tag: Saras Sarasvathy

How to Practice Medicine in a World We Can Never Truly Understand

Central to the problem of how best to live in a world that we cannot understand is how to regard:

“The Extended Disorder Family (or Cluster): (i) uncertainty, (ii) variability, (iii) imperfect, incomplete knowledge, (iv) chance, (v) chaos, (vi) volatility, (vii) disorder, (viii) entropy, (ix) time, (x) the unknown, (xi) randomness, (xii) turmoil, (xiii) stressor, (xiv) error, (xv) dispersion of outcomes, (xvi) unknowledge.” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile, London: Allen Lane, 2012)

To this impressive list, I would add seventeenth and eighteenth items:  failure and death. All of these characteristics scare and frighten most of us, and so we do our best to avoid them.

Despite the popularity of self-help books emphasizing the pursuit of happiness, a vocal minority has advocated embracing all of the above negative items in order to live fully and successfully.

Eric G. Wilson perhaps provides the best overview of this minority report when he observes that

“To desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations.”

And

“Our passion for felicity hints at an ominous hatred for all that grows and thrives and then dies.” (Eric G. Wilson, Against Happiness, New York:  Sarah Crichton Books, 2008)

To be alive and to realize that you are going to die means being insecure and vulnerable.  According to Martha Nussbaum one should embrace this uncertainty.

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