Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House, 2012
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a name you are likely to be familiar with, as is most of the world right now. No stranger to our site either, we have posted at least twice before on the “highly entertaining” (a moniker assigned to the trader turned scholar by The Guardian newspaper) Taleb in regards to his two best-selling books The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness which are related to Antifragile although not pre-requisite reading if you want to get your head around this title.
Antifragile seems to have a smilier ‘mission statement’ to the books before it, as it follows the same meandering path to an effective solution to the eternal question; ‘how can I increase my effectiveness?’. Other you are a trader, writer or factory temp; Taleb wants to impart his latest theory which is at its core, a validation of the brusque and fast-paced world of Finance. Taleb posits that one of the main ingredients to success is to become ‘antifragile’ or hyper-resilient and able to deal with life’s turns and twists and knocks with the agility of an astute rhinoceros. Tying in with his writings on ‘randomness’, this state of ‘antifragility’ equips us to cope and excel under changing conditions and the inevitable uncertainty of outcomes. Taleb feels that this resiliency which leads us to associate it with a state in which feelings are not even felt, is the optimum way to strengthen our human state and our robustness in the market as producers.
Just like his other works, Taleb has received strong reviews for Antifragile from the general community to respected titles such as the Havard Business Review. Another similarity to previous works is the fact that Taleb’s chapter titles, although utterly hilarious as non-contextual inclusions, seem to bear no relation to content;
- Between Damocles and Hydra
- Overcompensation and Overreaction Everywhere
- The Cat and the Washing Machine
- What Kills Me Makes Others Stronger
- The Souk and the Office Building
- Tell Them I Love (some) Randomness
- Naive Intervention
- Prediction as a Child of Modernity
- Fat Tony and the Fragilistas
- Seneca’s Upside and Downside
- Never Marry the Rock Star
- Thales’ Sweet Grapes
- Lecturing Birds on How to Fly
- When Two Things are not “the Same Thing”
- History Written by the Losers
- A Lesson in Disorder
- Fat Tony Debates Socrates
- On the Difference between a Large Stone and a Thousand Pebbles
- The Philosopher’s Stone and its Inverse
- Time and Fragility
- Medicine, Convexity and Opacity
- To Live Long, but Not Too Long
- Skin in the Game: Antifragility and Optionality at the Expense of Others
- Fitting Ethics to a Profession.
After taking a deep breath and inhaling Taleb’s seemingly endless chapter names, we found them pretty relevant…but we had to really think about it, which is understandable when reading an author of such pedigree.
In conclusion, Taleb’s take on post-modern thought is something we always enjoy reading and Antifragile is particularly useful when thinking about entering or managing a career in Finance.
Review by Andrea Photiou