By Dov Michaeli
Who was the greatest writer in the English language? I unanimously vote for Shakespeare; I dare anybody to disagree. He coined hundreds of words and phrases that we use today as a matter of fact; he introduced moral issues that were not even on “the radar screen” (a phrase he did not
introduce!) in the 17th century, but became fodder for 18th century social and moral philosophers of the Enlightenment. What I like the most is his insight into human psychology, its foibles and triumphs, its desperation and joy; all this 300 years before Sigmund Freud.  So imagine my surprise, and a bit of doubt (“aren’t they overreaching?”) when a respected investment group, the Motley Fools (they may be motley, but they are fools only in the sense of the Fool in a Shakespeare play) was seeking investment advice from the bard.  But then it became obvious –  good ol’ Will, through his fool,  transmitted to us moderns his insights into our deepest instincts, our fears, our hopes, our dreams. So here is my take on
Will’s lessons.
Lesson #1
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”Hamlet
“…dreamt of in your philosophy”. That’s where our political reality is today. We have “leaders” who have a prefabricated philosophy that is at odds with reality, but are still undeterred. 50 million Americans uninsured? Not a problem –just let the free market work its magic. 45 million Americans unemployed or underempoloyed? We have the answer: cut more taxes for the rich, and the free market will do the rest. But we already had a “free market” healthcare non-system; we already had a decade of tax cuts for the rich –and look where we are now. “There are more things in heaven and earth…” life is infinitely more complex, and you just can’t jam it into a constricted philosophy. Witness the consequences of forcing life into the various “isms” – Marxism, Communism, Fascism –are we on the way to another disaster with blind “tea–party-ism”?
Lesson #2
“All that glisters is not gold.The Merchant of Venice
A bit archaic spelling, but timeless wisdom. I am not talking about investment in gold. I am talking about our aspirations, about our judgment of people, about peeling back the meaningless veneer to get to the real core.
Lesson #3
This is the most important, the most timeless lesson:
“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in’t.The Tempest
If there could ever be a poetic equivalent to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, this must be it!
In this season of giving thanks let’s not forget this eternal truth of “how many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!”. Who could say it better than old Will?
Anybody still doubts the genius of this 17th century bard?
Dov Michaeli, MD, PhD
Dov Michaeli, MD, PhD loves to write about the brain and human behavior as well as translate complicated basic science concepts into entertainment for the rest of us. He was a professor at the University of California San Francisco before leaving to enter the world of biotech. He served as the Chief Medical Officer of biotech companies, including Aphton Corporation. He also founded and served as the CEO of Madah Medica, an early stage biotech company developing products to improve post-surgical pain control. He is now retired and enjoys working out, following the stock market, travelling the world, and, of course, writing for TDWI.

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