Thursday 25th August - The Bed of Procrustes

"Fitting things to a Procrustean bed". A phrase used often in discussion during theological seminars on the philosophy of religion and "God-talk". In regards to God, it means restricting Him to the limits of our thoughts, and not allowing Him to be what He is - thus misunderstanding God and His actions. Another phrase I learnt at university and like to use in essays is the "non-existence of an Archimedean point", but that's not really relevant to this post.

I've been reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book 'The Bed of Procrustes'. It contains pithy aphorisms, often paradoxical and mind-boggling. I quite liked his other book 'The Black Swan,' which discusses the theory that events or occurences tend to have more consequential relevance than regular occurences. I recommend you read it if you get a chance.

It's books like these that make me miss the times when I used to study philosophy. Since sixth form I recognised it as a subject that would allow me to benefit from all the time I spent thinking about things such as: Is the world random? Do things happen for a reason? Do we all perceive reality the same? Colours? Now in my final year I have no choice but to stick to theology modules.

Anyway, I'm rambling once more. The intention of this post is to share with you some of my favourite aphorisms. So here you go, enjoy.

"Education makes the wise slightly wiser, but it makes the fool vastly more dangerous."

"Those who think religion is about 'belief' don't understand religion, and don't understand belief."

"It is harder to say no when you really mean it than when you don't."

"Usually what we call a 'good listener' is someone with skilfully polished indifference.' ~ That's probably why people confide in me their darkest secrets, because I forget most of the time. That said, I'd like to think I care about my friends....

"You exist if and only if you are free to do things without a visible objective, with no justification and, above all, outside the dictatorship of someone else's narrative." ~ Considering humanity's meta-narrative as discussed by scholars such as N.T Wright, do Christians not really exist?

"If you can't spontaneously detect (without analyzing) the difference between sacred and profane, you'll never know what religion means. You will also never figure out what we commonly call art. You will never understand anything."

1 comment:

  1. I like the second one, but I'm not sure it would be for reasons we could both agree upon, but I'm not really sure. I said that twice, ah well. I will hold my hands up and say that I don't really understand religion - too much of it bores me to death and drains my faith. Can humans really create God? You know, paint Him in their own words? I don't think it's possible. This is not to say that philosophy is rubbish << what a daft thing to say, but I think you get what I mean. My favourite philosopher is Berkeley, but probably because I haven't studied much of anyone else. It all slides back into faith for me, whatever that might be exactly. Great post BTW.