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Taleb on "Tinkering"

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:07 pm
by dac
Taleb considers entrepreneurship to be a refutation of the argument that the world is designed, perhaps by God. "For Aristotle, an object had a clear purpose set by its designer. An eye was there to see, a nose to smell. ... Yet anything that has a secondary use, and one you did not pay for, will present an extra opportunity should a heretofore unknown application emerge or a new environment appear."

Consider a programmable piece of software, such as a web browser or database. It is designed by lower-level programmers so that its user, a higher-level programmer, can do with it as he pleases. The browser is extremely flexible and capable of being used in a wide variety of ways. The higher-level programmer, in setting the behavior of the browser, completes its programming.

Similarly, God might have designed the world with a single purpose in mind but permitted the world's inhabitants to program themselves in any way they saw fit. That objects in the universe have fluid purposes for humans in the universe does not interfere with the possibility that humans themselves or the universe as a whole has one fixed purpose (such as to be happy for the former or to stimulate the human search for happiness for the latter). Whether or not Aristotle confused the issue one way, Taleb confuses it the other.