Opinion business

How Taleb’s Ergodicity is informed by Hegel

Nassim Taleb’s Ergodicity is the idea that you cannot judge the egalitarianism of a system based on a static representation. You cannot say that inequality in a country is high because at this point in time, a minority of people own the vast amount of resources. But rather, you must take into consideration what happens over time.

The economy is dynamic, and wealth will change hands quite frequently. Over time, wealth will change hands. Over several decades, wealth would have changed hands considerably.

This idea of dynamic vs static has its roots in Hegelian thought. Hegel opposed the Aristotelian idea that took things for the way they were, and not for the way they used to be, or the way they will become in the future. A table, to Aristotle, is what it is. But for Hegel, equally important is the history and future of the table – a tree before it was a table, and ashes after it ceases to be a table.

Ergodicity is also an idea that informs the idea of Fooled by Randomness. When there is risk of ruin present in the future, then no cost-benefit analysis is useful. Imagine going to a casino every single night. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, because if you keep playing, you will inevitably go bust.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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