29 June 2013

Article on Albert O. Hirschman in The New Yorker

[Eugenio] Colorni believed that doubt was creative because it allowed for alternative ways to see the world, and seeing alternatives could steer people out of intractable circles and self-feeding despondency. Doubt, in fact, could motivate: freedom from ideological constraints opened up political strategies, and accepting the limits of what one could know liberated agants from their dependence on the belief that one had to know everything before acting, that conviction was a precondition for action.

--Jeremy Adelman, from "Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman"

The phrase that Hirshman and Colorni would repeat to each other was that they hoped to "prove Hamlet wrong." Hamlet shouldn't have been frozen by his doubts; he should have been freed by them. Hamlet took himself too seriously. He thought he needed to be perfect. Colorni and Hirshman didn't. Courage, Colorni wrote, required the willingness "to always be on guard against oneself."

--Malcolm Gladwell, from "The Gift of Doubt"

This reminds me of Frank Herbert's comments on his character Paul Atreides from Dune. Herbert said that Paul's success came from riding the chaos and not trying to control all events. (I can't find the interview where he says this.)

[ posted by sstrader on 29 June 2013 at 12:55:35 PM in Culture & Society ]