Category Archives: Adages

Must all good things be compatible

I’ve been pondering this quote from Isaiah Berlin (as seen in Rob Henderson’s newsletter)

“The optimistic view…that all good things must be compatible, and that therefore freedom, order, knowledge, happiness…must be at least compatible, and perhaps even entail one another in a systematic fashion…is not self-evidently true…Indeed, it is perhaps one of the least plausible beliefs ever entertained by profound and influential thinkers.”

Which also had the nugget

Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow

Which brought to mind the adage, first seen by me from Freeman Dyson of

One law for the lion and ox is oppression

The above is an illustration of the facts that the two ways of life are incompatible – the lion cannot digest plants, and the ox cannot digest meat. A law that said no eating animals, only plants, would lead to the lions starving, and a law that said eating animals is fine would lead to the deaths of the oxen.

Examining incompatibilities between beliefs is immensely interesting, and probably one of the better signals of thoughtfulness.

Quote of the Day from CS Lewis

I’ve probably posted this before, but

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Moldbug actually says something well

An actually good metaphor from Moldbug (though I will give him some points for defining Effective Altruism as “Telescopic Philanthropy)  the below is about libertarianism

Capitalism is cool. Spontaneous order is cool. Yet it is easy to ignore the fact that capitalism, as we know it, is not mostly made of spontaneous order. It is not a sea of self-employing economic atoms.

Capitalism is a sea of economic molecules. Some of these molecules are single atoms. Some are giant megacorporations. Between the molecules, all order is spontaneous. Within the molecules—raisins in the bread—all order is directed and monarchical.