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The Mental Toolkit

November 1, 2011

I believe that everything in the world is incredibly profound if you look at it the right way. People are only able to understand a handful of concepts that guide the world and they use those concepts over and over to solve puzzles they face. To some degree, the pattern oberved doesn’t even matter as much as the toolkit you use to analyze it. A statement about the world is as much about the speaker as it is about the world. Find out which concepts a person frames the world in terms of, and you will know a lot about them.

For me, the #1 concept I use to frame the world is opportunity cost. For others, it could be unintended consequences, the distribution of power, class struggle, the balance sheet, accounting identities, or anything. Even martial artists usually have a few signature moves that they use nearly every match. With mental specialization, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing, but one must be aware that everyone is mentally limited and that it is often better to find a person to fit the thinking pattern you need rather than to try to learn it yourself (for extra credit, explain how that line of thought is based on opportunity cost).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2011 10:17 pm

    Interesting that even your examples for alternative frames (“unintended consequences”, “class struggle”, etc) are economics related ;-).

    • November 1, 2011 11:34 pm

      It’s a Straussian meta-reminder of the limitations of human thought.

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