Monday, May 22, 2017

A longish excerpt......................

............from Nick Romeo's read-worthy essay,  Platonically Irrational:  How much did Plato know about behavioural economics and cognitive biases?  Pretty much everything, it turns out.

Intellectual humility and overconfidence can stem from purely cognitive processes, but they are also correctly understood as moral achievements or failings. Someone who always thinks that he is right about everything, however little he knows, is making a moral as well as a mental mistake. Similarly, the cultivation of intellectual humility is, in part, the cultivation of an ethical virtue. Many of the early Socratic dialogues end in uncertainty: the characters are reduced to what in ancient Greek was called aporia, and is often rendered in English as ‘perplexity’, ‘bafflement’, or ‘confusion’. Socrates’ interlocutors search for a satisfying answer to some question only to find that every proposed answer fails to satisfy tests of logical consistency. Characters react in different ways to this process – some become flustered, some threaten violence, some run away, and a few recognise that they have been improved, and express gratitude to Socrates. Their false steps in the arguments dramatise errors in reasoning, but their emotional reactions are the stuff of literature: they reveal hubris and arrogance, modesty and generosity, and the dynamic struggles between these opposed impulses – what the novelist William Faulkner in 1950 called ‘the human heart in conflict with itself’.


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