Iyov Extreme Risk Management
A consultancy to support Fund Managers, Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders
that are driven to take existential risk
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The Theoretical Context in Which We Operate

Risk-Taking in the Crossfire of Positivist and Existentialist Theory

Any debate about risk is in essence a philosophical discussion about certainty, i.e. what human beings can reasonably pretend to know. Western
philosophy to whose wisdom Iyov Extreme Risk Management fully subscribes, is pretty clear in this respect. In its view, the human mind operates
on the basis of impressions, perceptions, logic and dialectical evaluations which are set in an immanent phenomenological time-space-continuum
and which say nothing or precious little about the transcendence and the way things really are. The deliberations of our
Western philosophy
has hence centered a good part on the question of the reasonable acceptability of philosophical judgments, conclusions
and
theories inside the intersubjective social, academic and scientific reality which we construe.

Two Schools of Thought

Two main strands of thought have by and large emanated from these explorations which each in their own right still hark back to the old
Aristoteles-Plato/Locke-Leibnitz/Kant-Hegel-divide. There is on one hand the empirical school of thought whose main focus is to reach
conclusions with minimal subjectivity that can be corroborated, confirmed, verified and falsified in the context of a coherent, scientific
collaboration. Apart from some logical a priori presumptions about transcendence that are inevitable for the sake of defending the concept of
reason itself the empirical school of thought never aims to leave the realm of immanence and prefers to apply the principle of Ockham´s Razor to
its judgments rather than venturing out into the realm of hard to verify speculation.

On the other hand is a school of thought that suggests that there is a small but not to be discarded possibility of an intuitive, yet still reasonable
and justified understanding of the world that transcends the subject-object-divide which otherwise characterizes all human perceptions. Followers
of that school of thought either tend to argue that the subject-object perception of our mind is complimented by a deeper experience of unity
(perhaps earlier in the mother´s womb or during infancy) which lays the ground for
some justified poetic and hermeneutic speculation into
the realm of transcendence be it through faith- or value-driven theories
. Or they argue that the fact that the human mind inherently
reaches out to overcome its subject-object divide be it through its faculty for a priori reasoning or through the inevitable intentionality of its
consciousness is indication enough for us to presume that the supposition of the possibility of such hermeneutic outreach into the realm of
transcendence is a legitimate and justified undertaking.

Both these schools of thought, the empirical/positivist on one hand and the existentialist/platonic on the other hand have their merits. But they
also have their shortcomings. While the empirical approach produces all sorts of conclusions based on hard facts and hence enables a coherent
scientific discourse on the general idea of certainty and social risk-mitigation,
it cannot unite all these conclusions into a compelling
theory
that could provide the individual with a clear set of orientations to base his inherently speculative existential project on. The
existentialist/platonic school of thought on the other hand does exactly that. It defends the possibility of a reasonably justified, yet intuitively
gained faith that emerges in the learned brain of the individual and guides him or her in a rationally defensible manner through the conundrums
of life. That value- and idea-driven approach however leaves an even bigger part of its findings in the realm of wishful thinking and does not
provide for a common and coherent scientific project of immanently falsifiable and quantifiable progress and risk-mitigation.  

In this context Iyov Extreme Risk Management (IERM) is of the opinion that no reasonable school of thought can feasibly argue that all rational
behavior of individual human beings should be based on hard scientific, statistically quantified evidence. After all, it is quite impossible for the
majority of human beings to contract a scientific empirical study for each major decision-making that life imposes onto them. There can hence be
no doubt that
human beings must quite regularly take speculative stances based on anecdotal evidence only. Iyov Extreme Risk
Management therefore tends to view the existentialist school of thought as a more viable theoretical refuge for the lost and lonely than the
empirical one.

Benchmarks for Soundness of Existentialist Theories

We agree nevertheless that efforts must be undertaken to make sure that such idea-driven views, convictions and interpretations are not
altogether arbitrary, subjective, totalitarian, unreasonable and therefore unjustified. In this respect, we believe that the works of Karl Jaspers,
Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn among others provide valuable clues as to how to elevate your random interpretation to the level of philosophical
soundness and reasonable intersubjectivity. As matter of fact the aforementioned thinkers have set forth a number of criteria and imperatives
that platonically gained convictions must meet to elevate them to the level of relevance, noteworthiness, rationality, justification and soundness.
These imperatives and criteria which grant the status of rational trustworthiness are the following:

  1. The conviction/faith/speculation must be cognizant of its  shortcomings and flip sides despite the internal consistency it otherwise aims for
  2. It must be intelligible and must communicate itself to others. Positions that operate on the notion that belief is the basis of understanding
    are hence unacceptable.   
  3. The conviction holder must be prepared and willing to accept his doubts about the validity of his view and must review the basis of his
    assumptions in an honest and more or less constant manner.
  4. The speculative conclusion/faith/conviction must have been reached after an extensive study and immersion into the canon of views and
    opposing views historically and currently prevalent in the field that the pertaining conclusion/faith/conviction corresponds to.
  5. The speculative conclusion/faith/conviction must accept the often times chaotic chorus of critique by experts in the relevant field as a
    constitutional element of scientific consensus building, social opinion forming and social decision-making. It also must evolve with and take
    into account the predominant views that emerge out of the pertaining chorus of critique.
  6. The conviction holder needs to accept and understand that all speculative reasoning is by definition an open ended process that can
    easily be described with Karl Jaspers as a perennial philosophy.

These criteria and imperatives inspire the core of the hermeneutic service that Iyov Extreme Risk Management offers to extreme risk takers. We
believe that meeting these criteria will provide extreme risk takers with a sound path to achieve a reasonable completion of their project.
Accepting these benchmarks constitutes a solid bulwark against the possible aberrations of a pathological narcissism that can
drive people into fantasies of grandiosity. They help extreme risk takers not to fall victim of their own stubbornness. And they adequately
deconstruct the inherent danger of the otherwise rather common “I hate negativity”- approach which more often than not tends to be the
proselytizing hallmark of your average Shark Tank pioneer.

Iyov Extreme Risk Management believes that the need to embrace a speculative approach imposes itself especially in societies with
turbo-dynamic market economies whose rapidly changing environment challenges yesterday’s apparent certainties with
breathtaking speed
. Unless people are independently wealthy and can afford a Schopenhauer approach of minimal pro-activity, they will have
to take risks to deal with these rapid changes. And sometimes this risk-taking can and will be of an existential nature. In view of that Iyov Extreme
Risk Management is in the market to offer its contribution to make sure that such risk taking continues to be sound.

Constructive versus Destructive Narcissism

Obviously the ever present danger of a potentially pathological narcissism requires additional clarification. In our mind, there can be no doubt
that there is a serious element of narcissism in any desire to excel. This is also true in a super competitive market environment which basically
forces its participants to excel in order to gain a somewhat comfortable life. Naturally, there is a point where narcissism stops being a driver of
constructive evolution and where it turns into a destructive force.

Conventional wisdom usually has it that this point is reached when the desire for personal glory and success reaches a level where subject
ambition endangers the life and health of the narcissist agent or anybody else involved with his glory seeking undertaking. If this broad brush
definition were true, however, we would have to label people such as
Christopher Columbus, Reinhold Messner, Martin Luther King and
others whose contributions to the evolution of mankind are without any doubt as pathological narcissist since their undertaking clearly put not
only themselves but also others into a serious health risk. Such a broad brush definition of the tipping point based on health concerns hence
needs additional fine-tuning.

Now some people, recognizing the need for further clarification of the inflection point between good and bad narcissism, may be tempted to
argue that ultimately the success or failure of the pertaining, glory seeking enterprise in the marketplace will determine whether the underlying
narcissism was a predominantly constructive or destructive one. If that were an adequate measure however the most awful dictators of the 20th
century would at some point have had to be considered a non-pathological actor since they were clearly revered and celebrated for a while by a
vast number of the population. Success in and out of itself is hence not a viable yardstick to measure the soundness of a narcissistic ambition.
Lasting success and recognition at the same time that transcends the lifetime of the glory seeker may well be just that. Alas, this criterion does
not help anyone in his current enterprise to determine whether his undertaking is of a non-pathological or pathological kind. For that he or she
will need a different yardstick. And we believe that the Jaspers/Popper standards enunciated above are the only tool insight that can offer any
sort of certainty in this respect. So if you are not ready to accept your doubts, if you cannot deal with a constructive criticism of your convictions,
and if you are not willing to communicate the complexity of your emotions you may well be on an unreasonable track. This is even the case if
your “I hate negativity”- approach may have produced some market success. Don’t forget that success itself is, as we have said earlier, not
necessarily a sign of soundness and constructive narcissism. So, if you have your doubts in this respect feel free to contact us. We will help you
to figure out the conundrum that’s pestering you.
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