The Nash equilibrium

December 12, 2001 11:22 PM   Subscribe

The Nash equilibrium
So at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person's concept of his relation to the cosmos....from John F. Nash Jr.'s autobiography for the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics.
posted by riley370 (8 comments total)
Looks just like Russell Crowe, doesn't he?

I know John Nash's life story is no big secret, but I wonder if maybe it wouldn't be better not to give away the ending of what may be a fantastic movie (if the book was any indication) just yet. This brings up all kinds of weird priority issues, I know, but still..
posted by Hildago at 11:38 PM on December 12, 2001

That was fascinating.

I know nothing about John Nash, but the idea that (from what it seems here) he beat back delusional schizophrenia just by thinking about it (over 25 years or so) is rather interesting.

There's also the posted excerpt about losing the sense of grandeur in returning to the real world. I get the feeling it was like waking from a dream.
posted by chiheisen at 12:11 AM on December 13, 2001

From reading that, I'm not sure he'd characterise it as "beating back" schizophrenia. He doesn't seem to think it bad or wrong, just different (and the cause of embarassment to others).

I'm no expert on this kind of thing, but do know someone who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. As far as I can tell, the main problem with being "ill" in this way is that you behave differently to how society expects. This can cause a lot of suffering in close friends and family, but otherwise the "victim" can be pretty happy. Obviously they are affected by the upset they are causing, but they seem to have a self-consistent view of the world (they're not trapped in some strange, dream-like inconsistent place).

I guess it's a lot more complex than that. I just wanted to draw attention to the way in which Nash emphasises being different, rather than worse (or better). He certainly has my deepest respect.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:52 AM on December 13, 2001

Genius, for some reason, seems to undermine sanity. Regarding our existence from new and unique viewpoints often leads to startling discoveries, and almost always some form of eccentricity.

I'm curious how many of us MeFites might be diagnosed with "personality disorders," and what relation that might have to our seeming intelligence.
posted by johnnyace at 3:17 AM on December 13, 2001 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed the book very much - but always wondered why it is a collection of people talking about Nash - he himself is never interviewed, it seems. The movie trailer looks like they dumbed it down completely.

Aside: is the appearance of the same topic on memepool today a coincidence?
posted by thijsk at 3:20 AM on December 13, 2001

I suspect the genius/madman theory is largely wishful thinking. Lots and lots of people have mental "problems" - probably the majority of us at some time in our lives (there's a statistic somewhere on the ubiquity of depression, for example). It doesn't mean we're all dormant geniuses.

Also, while it's nice to romanticise people who make it despite being different, I think there could be a more depressing explanation. Perhaps geniuses appear to have more variation than most because something like a mathematical disovery tends to be difficult to ignore. In contrast, if you're in middle-management and have similar problems, you simply slip from view...
posted by andrew cooke at 3:51 AM on December 13, 2001

The movie trailer looks like they dumbed it down completely.

Strictly speaking, it isn't a biopic. The movie is "inspired by events in the life of John Forbes, Nash, Jr.," according to the trailer and official website, "and in part based on the biography A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nassar." They're under no obligation to not dumb it down that way.
posted by UnReality at 7:13 AM on December 13, 2001

In his younger (still sane) years, Nash was inexcusably cruel to his first son and his son's mother. I suspect the Russel Crowe version of Nash won't be portrayed as such an unmitigated asshole. I think it is somewhat remarkable that Nash eventually recovered some of his sanity (not all...if you read the book carefully) as he got older. But, that, and being a good mathemetician don't make him a better person.
posted by plaino at 7:16 AM on December 13, 2001

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