A world view based on the idea of ‘imperfect understanding’

Reading an interview with George Soros in the Baltimore Sun of 11 September,  part of a plethora of media coverage linked to Soros’s $100 million donation to Human Rights Watch last week, I was struck by the elegance and simplicity of the personal philosophy that lies behind his decision making.

Asked by the interviewer to describe ‘the personal philosophy that has guided his business and investment decisions’, he refers to his experience while studying economic theory at the London School of Economics in the late 1950s. ‘I began reading the works of the political philosopher Karl Popper,’ he says. ‘I was struck by the contradiction between Popper’s emphasis on imperfect understanding and the theory of perfect competition in economics which postulates perfect knowledge. This led me to start questioning the assumptions of economic theory.’

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