Category Archives: Philosophy

Warning: Deep thoughts ahead.

Design and paradox

Another person I met at the WorldBlu Forum is Ralf Beuker of Design Management. He spoke on design thinking and on the value of embracing paradox. This is a recurring theme on my blog – here are a few examples:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
– Niels Bohr

The test of a first class mind is the ability to hold two opposing views in the head at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Change that is deeply effective and positive presents a paradoxical challenge. On the one hand, there needs to be an appreciation and acceptance of how things are in the here and now. On the other hand, there needs to be an active intention to make things better. Nothing needs to change, and everything can improve. This is the way to avoid the two extremist traps of activist’s frustration or pessimistic complacency.
– Patch Adams

Embracing paradox is crucial. Too much thinking these days (especially in business) aims to reduce and simplify a worldview to the point where decision making becomes easy – and that’s just not the way the world works :o)

Quote

What is at the center now? At the moment, neither art nor science but mankind determining, in confusion and obscurity, whether it will endure or go under. The whole species – everybody – has gotten into the act. At such a time it is essential to lighten ourselves, to dump encumbrances, including the encumbrances of education and all organized platitudes, to make judgments of our own, to perform acts of our own.

– Saul Bellow, from his 1976 Nobel lecture.

Truth and meaning

Here’s a thought:

Truth is something you find. Meaning is something you create.

Because a truth you’ve just created, can hardly be said to be a truth. Truth is something you find outside of yourself.

And because meaning that comes to you from outside of you does not mesure up to meaning you create yourself for yourself from what happens around you.

And it just struck me, that if the meaning you create for yourself is not based on truth it must be a flimsy and vulnerable thing indeed.

Or what do you think?

Should Your Next CEO Be a Philosopher?

Technology is still important to a company’s competitive edge, but it seems that most organizations today have the technology down. It’s still important, but it’s more and more becoming a given – which makes it harder to use it to differentiate yourself in the eyes of the customer. So if you can’t use technology to give you an edge, what can you use?

…according to a Wharton professor and an Israeli venture capitalist, a company?s ability to understand its customers? philosophical outlook may be as vital to its success as R&D and other efforts.

…although it?s a given that technological assets can determine the progress of an individual, a company or even a nation, the decision to embrace or to reject technology is itself deeply affected by abstract ideas that are embedded in an individual?s (or a nation?s) general life philosophy.

You can read the entire article here. I agree whole-heartedly. Let’s bring back philosophy as a day-to-day activity, not as an academic discipline. Let’s make room for contemplation of life’s big issues in the work place. It’ll be fun, it’ll be good and it’ll make us better at whatever we do.

Constructivism

Constructivism is the theory that reality is not only an isolated fact outside of us, but something we actively create together. This flies in the face of the more traditional idea that there is an objective reality “out there” which we experience subjectively.

There are many flavours of constructivism, and while researching this on the net, I stumbled on this site in which Martin Dougiamas gives an introduction to the different aspects of constructivism/constructionism, intermingled with travel stories from Bangkok. I’m not quite sure why, but I like the juxtaposition of these two unrelated themes a lot.

Constructivism is interesting for many reasons, and especialy because it forms part of the theoretical basis for Appreciative Inquiry.