Lunch with John Nash
By David Henderson
Nobel prize winner John Nash is visiting my school, the Naval Postgraduate School, this week and is giving a speech tomorrow to the student body. Some of my economist colleagues and I had lunch with him today. He seems to be a gentle man.
Here’s a highlight from the biography I wrote of him in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:
As readers of Sylvia Nasar’s biography of Nash, A Beautiful Mind, know, Nash contended with schizophrenia from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s. As Nash put it in his Nobel autobiography, “I later spent time of the order of five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis and always attempting a legal argument for release.” His productivity suffered accordingly. But he emerged from his mental illness in the late 1980s. In his Nobel lecture, Nash noted his own progress out of mental illness:
Then gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began, most recognizably, with the rejection of politically-oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort.
That last sentence is my favorite.