Soros says nonfuzzy logic kills

Paul J.Werbos (pwerbos@nsf.gov)
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 01:17:06 +0100 (MET)

Hi, Folks!

In reading George Soros' new book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, I ran across
some discussions which you might find interesting. Half the book concerns the
crisis in the international financial system -- a story in which Soros himself is
a major player. But he gives equal weight to the "other half" -- the challenge of maintaining and
developing a global "open society" in which economic growth (among other things)
remains possible.

He states (in "The Precarious Middle Ground, p.81):
"...conditions of open society are threatened from both sides;
open society is precariously perched between... closed society and the dynamic
disequilibrium..."

The basic foundation of closed society (p.68) is a "mode of thinking"
which he calls the ".. dogmatic mode, which could not tolerate uncertainty."

He elaborates (p.76): "Indeed, between these two extremes of fundamentalism and pure expediency lie
the near-equilibrium conditions of open society..."

Finally (p.77): "Insistence on absolute values gives rise to what I call the either/or
syndrome: If a particular principle turns out to have negative consequences, the ultimate solution
must lie in its opposite. This line of argument is quite absurd but it is surprisingly
widespread. It is the distinguishing mark of fundamentalist thinking (as distinct from fundamental
principles. It can easily lead to...." (disaster).

-------------------------------

Is Soros saying that lack of fuzzy logic is one of the two main threats to
the survival of open society and humanity in general?

Actually... I suspect his view might be more complex. I agree with what he says here,
on the whole... so maybe I could extrapolate, drawing on some of my own views.

One of our major problems is that politicians and religious leaders often use
TOO MUCH fuzzy logic. They use membership functions or definitions of words
which are SO broad -- such a coarse granulation -- that they lose sight of
precise distinctions of great importance. Perhaps the problem is that
there is such a huge disconnect between such people and the intellectuals who
go too far in the opposite direction. But I don't know... it's a complex system.
Soros' critique of the fundamentalists certainly points to a major and serious problem.

Best of luck,

Paul W.

############################################################################
This message was posted through the fuzzy mailing list.
(1) To subscribe to this mailing list, send a message body of
"SUB FUZZY-MAIL myFirstName mySurname" to listproc@dbai.tuwien.ac.at
(2) To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send a message body of
"UNSUB FUZZY-MAIL" or "UNSUB FUZZY-MAIL yoursubscription@email.address.com"
to listproc@dbai.tuwien.ac.at
(3) To reach the human who maintains the list, send mail to
fuzzy-owner@dbai.tuwien.ac.at
(4) WWW access and other information on Fuzzy Sets and Logic see
http://www.dbai.tuwien.ac.at/ftp/mlowner/fuzzy-mail.info
(5) WWW archive: http://www.dbai.tuwien.ac.at/marchives/fuzzy-mail/index.html