Charlie Munger: “all reality has to respect all other reality”

From an interview with Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger, the most clear and concise argument for the liberal arts education (previously called “the Humanities”) I have ever seen:

Although I am very interested in the subject of human misjudgment — and lord knows I’ve created a good bit of it — I don’t think I’ve created my full statistical share, and I think that one of the reasons was I tried to do something about this terrible ignorance I left the Harvard Law School with.
When I saw this patterned irrationality, which was so extreme, and I had no theory or anything to deal with it, but I could see that it was extreme, and I could see that it was patterned, I just started to create my own system of psychology, partly by casual reading, but largely from personal experience, and I used that pattern to help me get through life. Fairly late in life I stumbled into this book, Influence, by a psychologist named Bob Cialdini, who became a super-tenured hotshot on a 2,000-person faculty at a very young age. And he wrote this book, which has now sold 300-odd thousand copies, which is remarkable for somebody. Well, it’s an academic book aimed at a popular audience that filled in a lot of holes in my crude system. In those holes it filled in, I thought I had a system that was a good-working tool, and I’d like to share that one with you. And I came here because behavioral economics. How could economics not be behavioral? If it isn’t behavioral, what the hell is it? And I think it’s fairly clear that all reality has to respect all other reality. If you come to inconsistencies, they have to be resolved, and so if there’s anything valid in psychology, economics has to recognize it, and vice versa. So I think the people that are working on this fringe between economics and psychology are absolutely right to be there, and I think there’s been plenty wrong over the years.

Rather obvious, but it has deep implications: “All reality has to respect all other reality. If you come to inconsistencies, they have to be resolved.” All fields of study, especially as relates to human behavior, are connected with one another. The separation exists only in our minds where we naturally reduce everything to smaller separate and comprehensible components in order to somehow interpret the workings of the whole. But, make no mistake, an elegant and interconnected whole exists.

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  1. Agree. The notion that we are not all connected to one another is a falsehood, whether the “we” refers to humans or bodies of study or whatever.

    Love Cialdini as well.

  2. I guess we have to delineate to study, but it’s important to step back.