Aphorisms

The Post-Lehman Era

The existence of recessions no more invalidates economic theory than the existence of AIDS invalidates molecular biology.

An Alternative to Occam’s Razor

In light of human foibles, I would suggest that this decision rule be used in lieu of Occam’s Razor: of several possible explanations for an observation, the most boring one is probably the most accurate.

Verbs and Nouns

When love is a feeling rather than an action, it is nearly worthless.

Dreams and Despair

We often find it easier to endure the evils we have sought to avoid than the good fortune that we have dreamt of.

The Most Lasting Works of Art

A work of art often remains important to us throughout life not because of any intrinsic worth, but simply because we came upon it precisely in the moment when it could be of the greatest value to us.

Second Chances

Surely we should give others second chances, but there is no reason why we should we give a second chance to someone who has never given us a first chance.

Leibniz’s Theodicy

We are at our happiest when we agree with Leibniz, who thought that life’s suffering are as essential to its beauty as dissonance is essential to the beauty of music. But there is something coldly indifferent to the misfortunes of others in this sort of happiness.

To Have Played One’s Role

It is often better to have thought through something for oneself and made a honest mistake than to have succeeded simply because you followed orders without thinking. Modern society, with its perpetually growing complexity, requires ever more of the latter, but the depth of our character and intellect depends almost exclusively on the former.

A Single Date

It is a great injustice when we meet a woman only once and become infatuated with her: we have lost the chance to learn enough about her to be glad that we will never see her again.

Measuring Others’ Opinions

We measure the accuracy of others’ opinions by their consonance with our own.