Via Negativa – Addition Via Subtraction

Nassim Taleb & Via Negativa

Via Negativa is quite a wonderful heuristic for thinking about improvement.

We find that most often in our lives we are looking for things to buy, things to get, things to eat, things to find that will be the solution to the problems immediate to us. It is not uncommon to look to add something to our lives in hope of it improving it rather than considering the opposite. Problems with your friends, well I suppose I need to get more. Argument with the wife, well a fancy dinner out is best. Want to improve the house, a renovation is the obvious solution.

The list of possibilities goes on and is quite endless.

The Key To Via Negativa & Definition

Via Negativa is the art of addition via subtraction.

Say you’ve smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for the last 10 years and now that persistent cough is no longer ignorable. How are you going to best go about improving/adding to your health? Well, it is true that you could start exercising more, eating differently, buying more expensive food, going to the doctor more, taking more medicine. All these things will start to improve your health and offset the damage caused over the previous 10 years.

But in this example the best thing you could do for your health is actually achieved by removing something from your life. Addition via subtraction. Add to your health by subtracting cigarettes.

Stop smoking cigarettes, and your health will improve immediablty.

Now, I understand this is an easy example and not so cross applicable to your everyday life. But give Via Negativa a go and think deeply about it. You will find that much of what you experience day to day could actually be served well with a stiff dose of Via Negativa.

Via Negativa | The Nassim Taleb & Incerto Podcast

Nassim Taleb & The Incerto Youtube Series

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