- Hardcover: 328 pages
- Publisher: PCA Publications L.L.C.; 3rd edition (2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578644283
- ISBN-13: 978-1578644285
- Package Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 71 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger, 3rd Edition 3rd Edition
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Peter Bevelin begins his fascinating book with Confucius' great wisdom: "A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it, is committing another mistake." Seeking Wisdom is the result of Bevelin's learning about attaining wisdom. His quest for wisdom originated partly from making mistakes himself and observing those of others but also from the philosophy of super-investor and Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charles Munger. A man whose simplicity and clarity of thought was unequal to anything Bevelin had seen. In addition to naturalist Charles Darwin and Munger, Bevelin cites an encyclopedic range of thinkers: from first-century BCE Roman poet Publius Terentius to Mark Twain—from Albert Einstein to Richard Feynman—from 16th Century French essayist Michel de Montaigne to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett. In the book, he describes ideas and research findings from many different fields. This book is for those who love the constant search for knowledge. It is in the spirit of Charles Munger, who says, "All I want to know is where I'm going to die so I'll never go there." There are roads that lead to unhappiness. An understanding of how and why we can "die" should help us avoid them. We can't eliminate mistakes, but we can prevent those that can really hurt us. Using exemplars of clear thinking and attained wisdom, Bevelin focuses on how our thoughts are influenced, why we make misjudgments and tools to improve our thinking. Bevelin tackles such eternal questions as: Why do we behave like we do? What do we want out of life? What interferes with our goals? Read and study this wonderful multidisciplinary exploration of wisdom. It may change the way you think and act in business and in life.
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I am sure Bevelin is interested in the subject of "seeking wisdom" but he writes in a calcified way, and some of the ideas are so 19th century, that you can't help but feel you are reading the musings of a rich, old, mildly intellectual dabbler, in a musty grand study room that has been writing his ideas on note books for years (probably with quill pen and ink) and decided "I should write a book about this". His writings about evolutionary selection are insufferable in their shallowness, naivite and lack of sophistication as they apply to the subject of epistemology.
He also talks about very modern concepts and developments in the subject of cognitive psychology and persuassion theory, but his stuff is just bad explanations of Cialdini's great work (which by-the-way is a work I highly recommend and I have reviewed for this site) and of Tversky and Kahneman (called prospect theory). For a serious understanding of these theories, the deeper reader should instead spend his time reading "Influence" by Cialdini and "Judgment under Uncertainty: heuristics and biases" by Tversky, Kahneman and others.
In short the book is a collection of scraps of writing, by a mediocre intellectual, that has powerful friends (I can almost bet he is himself a powerful old-money, money manager) that he wishes to impress and kiss-up to.
The book reeks of self-published vanity, and reading it is not a good use of a serious thinker's time. Perhaps it is just a good marketing tool for the author (to give his friends and clients) and a pride-piece on the mantle shelf of his home. I give it 2 stars because the table of contents rocks and makes you want to buy the book. Too bad the book didn't delivered what the table of contents promised.
This excellent addition to the study of "mental models" is divided into four (4) parts.
Part 1 - What Influences Our Thinking
Part 2 - The Psychology of Misjudgments
Part 3 - The Physics & Mathematics of Misjudgments
Part 4 - Guidelines to Better Thinking
Part 2 & 4 are the corner stones of the book. Part 2 breaks out "28" mental models much like the "25" models in Poor Charlie's Almanack. To paraphrase a fellow reviewer, "This is a section you read first, then leave close by and re-read over and over, so you can slowly soak up the wisdom." Part 4 in essence expounds and adds more color to what both Parts 2 & 3 have previously explored.
Also, Appendix #4 on Checklists is a must read.
In Mr. Bevelin's introduction, he asks that we start the journey for wisdom and hopes that it is inspiring. Mr. Bevelin, a big thanks for your contribution!
Cautionary Note: If the reader is not at least somewhat familiar with "mental models" or has not read other fine books on the subject similar to Poor Charlie's Almanack, Influence, How We Know What Isn't So, or The Psychology of Judgment & Decision Making, one may be best suited to start there. After your spade work is complete, most assuredly come back as this book takes you to the next level.
I like the book for many reasons --the main one is that it was written by a practitioner who knows what he wants, not by an academic.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb