The Bed of Procrustes

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The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
Second edition
AuthorNassim Nicholas Taleb
CountryUnited States
Subjectaphorisms, philosophy
PublisherRandom House (U.S.)
Publication date
November 30, 2010
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages157 pp (paperback)
ISBN978-0-8129-8240-4 (U.S.)
Preceded byThe Black Swan 
Followed byAntifragile 

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms is a philosophy book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb written in the aphoristic style. It was first released on November 30, 2010 by Random House.[1] An updated edition was released on October 26, 2016 that includes fifty percent more material than the 2010 edition.[1] According to Taleb, the book "contrasts the classical values of courage, elegance, and erudition against the modern diseases of nerdiness, philistinism, and phoniness." The title refers to Procrustes, a figure from Greek mythology who abducted travelers and stretched or chopped their bodies to fit the length of his bed.[2]

The book is part of Taleb's five volume philosophical essay on uncertainty, titled the Incerto[3] and covers Antifragile (2012), The Black Swan (2007–2010), Fooled by Randomness (2001),The Bed of Procrustes (2010–2016), and Skin in the Game (2018).

Selected aphorisms[edit]

  • What fools call “wasting time” is most often the best investment.
  • A man without a heroic bent starts dying at the age of thirty.
  • The difference between slaves in Roman and Ottoman days and today’s employees is that slaves did not need to flatter their boss.
  • You are rich if and only if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.
  • Modernity: we created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.
  • You can tell how uninteresting a person is by asking him whom he finds interesting.
  • Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.
  • Preoccupation with efficacy is the main obstacle to a poetic, elegant, robust and heroic life.
  • Those who do not think that employment is systemic slavery are either blind or employed.
  • They are born, put in a box; they go home to live in a box; they study by ticking boxes; they go to what is called “work” in a box, where they sit in their cubicle box; they drive to the grocery store in a box to buy food in a box; they talk about thinking “outside the box”; and when they die they are put in a box.
  • A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.


External links[edit]