Stoicism as a response to increase in scale.

(by James Augustus Berens )


—“Stoicism functions as a tool for limiting the scope of human cognitive processes (cognition & responses to perceived changes in state) to the consequential (actionable at individual scale).

The scope of man’s cognitive processes evolved under tribal/local scale with limited complexity.
Under more complex systems, like those of post-industrial societies, information surpasses the scale of individual actionability, yet because of our innate cognitive biases we respond to, perceive and approach information as if it were consequential.

Complexity and the [perceived] randomness of events eliminate the feedback/information man receives from his actions. That is, as complexity increases, the difficulty of calculating the consequences of a given action or set of actions increases. Thus the need for stoicism as a mental instrument for goal-directed action in an increasingly complex world.

It is no surprise, then, that much in the way that Doolittle and Taleb attack pseudoscience via operationalism and probability theory, respectively, we see a resurgence of stoicism guided by operational and probabilistic thinking. In respect to the former, we decrease uncertainty and launder our thoughts of error, bias, [self] deceit and wishful thinking; and, in respect to the latter, under uncertainty, through the investment and coordination of action to produce a convexity of returns/results (anti-fragility): investment in portfolios with limited down side and unlimited upside.”— James Augustus Berens



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