saturday light reading…

20071110, 45

…from the people at Motley Fool: Risk, Uncertainty & Reward by Frank H. Knight, Ph. D., then Associate Professor of Economics in the state university of Iowa. Copy right 1921.

notes on the forward by the author (1921):

  • This book was initially published to compete for a Class A (entries from any American without restriction) prize in a book publisher’s essay contest (in 1917) wherein it achieved for its author the second place prize of $500. It seems uncertain whether it achieved the publisher’s stated intention and drew “the attention of American youth to the study of economic and commercial subjects.” It would seem the publisher managed a little monetization from the contest. In the prior iteration, it sufficed as a doctoral thesis at Cornell in 1916, and was written during  1914-16.
  • Chapter 7 was recommended.
  • The effort”endeavors to isolate and define the essential characteristics of free enterprise as a system or method of securing and directing coöperative effort in a social group.”
  • A premise for endeavoring any projects of “social betterment” is action “in light of a clear understanding of the nature and tendencies of the system which it is proposed to modify or displace.” Simply—never loan your motorbike to a beginner.
  • To achieve the effort under the premise, one must “radically” separate “the description and explanation of phenomena from all questions of defense or criticism of the system under examination.” First describe clearly what occurs. Then solicit defense or criticism as appropriate. This would seem to apply to existing systems one wishes to change, rather than the more significant radical change required to remedy social structures that are broken. If one does not first know the system that exists, one is not qualified to re-engineer it? Simply—intimacy should precede re-engineering.
  • An engineer with cohesive knowledge of available systems of organization will make better re-engineering decisions than the technical expert on a single system. Simply—if all ya got is a hammer, everything you see will start to look like a nail.
  • “No one mode of organization is adequate or tolerable for all purposes in all fields.” Simply—get clear about your purpose if you expect to avoid pain, and secure pleasure.
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