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from Chrystia Freeland:

The imperfect world of George Soros

As it appears in the December 2012 issue of Foreign Policy magazine.

George Soros cites Isaiah Berlin as an important intellectual influence, so it makes sense to see Soros through one of the Riga-born philosopher's best-known lenses -- the division of the world into foxes and hedgehogs. In his public life, Soros is a broad-minded fox: As a hedge fund manager, his success rested on his ability to make many different bets every day. In his philanthropy, Soros is foxy too, supporting, under the broad umbrella of "open society" dozens of causes in dozens of countries.

But intellectually, Soros is a more narrowly focused hedgehog. He has been pondering, articulating, elaborating, and publicizing variations on one big idea for more than half a century. The way he describes that central thought today is "the significance of imperfect understanding as a motive force or determinant of history."

Over the years, Soros's written expositions of this concept have sometimes met with bafflement, even as his financial prowess and philanthropic accomplishments have been widely admired. For Soros himself, though, his big idea and many public initiatives are intimately connected; his intellectual framework, he believes, is what has made him good at everything else. And, to his delight, after years of struggling to be accepted as a public intellectual, the turmoil in the world economy has finally made the rest of us more receptive to his insight.

"The present moment is a potent illustration" of how imperfect understanding shapes bad outcomes, Soros told me when I interviewed him recently for Foreign Policy. "We have had 25 years of a superboom, interspersed by financial crises. Each time, the authorities intervened by reinforcing the credit and leverage in the economy, until it became unsustainable. Then you had the crash of 2008, where the financial system actually collapsed and had to be put on life support, which consisted of substituting sovereign credit for the financial credit that was no longer credible."

from Breakingviews:

Review: Pragmatic management wisdom from the East

By Edward Hadas
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The industrial economy was developed in the West, but it is increasingly global. The same can be said of management studies. Starting with the “scientific management” of Frederick Taylor in the 1880s, the field has been dominated by writers trained in the rationalist tradition of the European Enlightenment. Ikujiro Nonaka and Zhichang Zhu think that Eastern philosophical traditions, in particular the teachings identified as Confucian, offer an alternative perspective.

from Breakingviews:

Review: Looking for an honest man

By Martin Langfield
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It is said that the philosopher Diogenes the Cynic roamed ancient Athens with a lamp in daylight to search for an honest man. Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, uses more modern research techniques for a similar quest. He reports his findings in a new book, “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.”

from Breakingviews:

Review: Devaluing the priceless

By Martin Langfield
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Is the world better off, or worse, if a poor person sells a kidney to a rich person who needs it?

from FaithWorld:

God did not create the universe, gravity did, says Stephen Hawking

hawkingGod did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.

In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

from FaithWorld:

“Human rights” urged for whales & dolphins – is this a good idea?

whales

NE Pacific Transient killer whale in Alaska/Dave Ellifrit/NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Whales and dolphins should get "human rights" to life and liberty because of mounting evidence of their intelligence, a group of conservationists and experts in philosophy, law and ethics said on Sunday.

from FaithWorld:

GUESTVIEW: No good deed goes unpunished

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. is founder and editor of Ignatius Press, which is the primary English-language publisher of the works of Pope Benedict XVI and which has published several books by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He is also publisher of Catholic World Report magazine.

schoenborn 1

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna, November 13, 2009/Heinz-Peter Bader

By Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.

Did Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna "attack" Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican secretary of state? If The Tablet weekly in London were your only source of information, you’d think so, because that’s what the headline screamed.

from Felix Salmon:

The ontological status of gold

I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of email response I got to a passing reference to Kripkenstein on this blog -- clearly quite a lot of you enjoy a bit of analytical philosophy! I went out to lunch today with a couple of philosophically-inclined finance types as a result, and, since I'm still high on Sichuan peppercorns and it seems to be something of a slow news day, I thought I'd put up a poll.

Remember this wonderful graph, from Paul Kedrosky, showing the price of gold in gold? Pay attention, there will be a quiz.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Woo-hoo! Another stinking fish!

Blog Guy, you've helped a lot of college seniors focus on a career to match their education. As a soon-to-be-graduating philosophy major, what should my next move should be?

That depends. Have you had a lot of offers from the recruiters that philosophy companies send around to the better schools? I mean, is there a respected employer saying he can't wait to put your philosophy skills to work?

from The Great Debate UK:

“Return to past” is SSPX motto for doctrinal talks with Vatican

[CROSSPOST blog: 21 post: 9055]

Original Post Text:
fellay-alps1As planned negotiations between the Vatican and the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) near, the group's Swiss leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has spelled out his view of what the Roman Catholic Church must do to resolve the crisis he believes it is in. "The solution to the crisis is a return to the past," he has told a magazine published by the SSPX in South Africa. (Photo: Bishop Fellay in Ecône, Switzerland, 29 June 2009/Denis Balibouse)

Fellay said Pope Benedict agrees with the SSPX on the need to maintain the Church's links to the past, but still wants to keep some reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). "This is one of the most sensitive problems," he said. "We hope the discussions will allow us to dispel the grave ambiguities that have spread through the Catholic Church since (the Council), as John Paul II himself recognised."

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