Went to see Soros, one of my inspirations, at Akateeminen bookshop two days ago. I took the signatures and Ville took the pics. He asked if I had really read Alchemy. I was happy to answer affirmative.
Here is what I wrote to Amazon.com as the first reviewer of Open Society in November 2000, six years ago:
After browsing and searching through shelves of literature in academic philosophy I found Soros and his alchemy of finance. It happened quite surprisingly when I was anxiously looking for a sensible presentation on derivative markets. The search ended with a coherent picture of the relationship between mind and market, and more generally, the social realm. This book presents the latest formulation of Soros’ practical philosophy, which is based on the concept of reflexivity. In short: thinking and reality interact and therefore perfect knowledge is impossible.
In overall, his theory sounds very solid and I have been happy to see that it has finally received serious attention among non-extreme scholars and self-thinking politicians. In social sciences and practical philosophy, the issues Soros writes about have been dealt innumerable times before with different notations. Especially Popper and his seminal teachings on fallibility and open society have been of great inspiration to Soros.
But why Soros? The reason why his presentation is superior to most previous attempts to understand thinking and reality is that Soros is very easy to read and understand. The book is completely clean of academic jargon although the things he writes about are in no sense trivial.
I’ve kept the teachings of Soros as basis where to compare other writers. Sure, there are weak parts in this book especially when he writes about world’s current political and financial context. The suggestion for a new political alliance sounds to me a bit similar as a suggestion for new global currency based on oil price.
The importance of Soros in the historical context will obviously not be his financial score or political proposals but all that he has achieved as a thinking and participating philantropist.