Freeman Dyson

  • Adages,  Freeman Dyson,  Wisdom

    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.

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