Many professionals believe that the philosophy of success always begins with a person who wants to discover this success for himself. Especially if it concerns any field in which a person strives to realize himself. To do this, he will need the help of experienced specialists (which is completely normal today).
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So, the growing interest in philosophy among entrepreneurs and IT specialists is a modern trend: the concept of the world and the system of its cognition finally include business and the individual involved. Experts have studied the modern view of the subject and found out why philosophy is considered the cornerstone of great innovation.
Loss of Connection Between Business and Science
Specialists at the Carnegie Endowment for the Improvement of Education recently decided to study how modern entrepreneurs integrate the interests of society in their daily work. Until now, representatives of every profession, including lawyers and doctors, have concentrated exclusively on their own methods and tools. The entrepreneurs of Adam Smith’s time had time to mingle with the best minds and clergy. It is easy for people in skyscrapers to ignore issues that go beyond purely technical and operational tasks.
Reflection and Contemplation are Simply Pushed out of Everyday Life
But daily workload is not the only threat. In the twentieth century, large companies and corporations were staffed with experts from various fields who provided advice and guidance to line managers. In the second half of the century, corporate pyramids collapsed and the people who were paid to learn in depth on important issues left the industry. The layoffs in staff, who often had an academic background, and the huge debt bubble in the American economy, have neutralized the connection between business and the humanitarian scientific community. Modern philosophers have to deal with this.
As for the views themselves, the former goal of business philosophy can be interpreted as “comprehending ideals.” In the context of entrepreneurship, this task often involves referring to the concepts of “ideal management”, “ideal organization” or “ideal market”. In this approach, business education traditionally clings to the concepts that these ideals deliver. Thus, the economy and personality of homo economicus is built on a model that proclaims the rationality of choice and decision-making. Thus, traditional ideas of business organization may be based on the assumption that it is not only possible, but also normal – to create companies where the mind is placed above everything else.
Nicole Dewandre, Member of the European Commission, reflects on the practical effect of such ideals in her book, based on philosophical conclusions different from those described above. She comes to the conclusion that the latter are not only useless, but even harmful. Dewandre believes that if you approach business every day with only rationality in mind, sooner or later it will turn a person into a frustrated cynic. She explains this by the fact that our real experience and everything that happens around does not coincide with what we were taught. In the end, this discrepancy makes us not only abandon our ideals, but also stop believing in the existence of truth, which makes us opportunists. We fully surrender ourselves to the dynamics of the market and confirm the cynicism of the times in which we live.
Striving for Success as a Path to Failure
“Today, the financial and environmental crises are not mentioned in educational programs, but we take it in the order of things: business education is still entirely based on the concept of success,” says Professor de Monto. The key idea of moving away from the business worldview, which is based solely on ideals, was proposed by scientists of the same Carnegie Endowment. Its essence lies in the source of knowledge: we should receive them not from hypothetical perfection, but from the reality that surrounds us. In particular, the authors of the report propose to define crises and defaults as “learning situations”.
We know from Aristotle and John Dewey, the American pragmatic philosopher, that true learning and reflection is based on experiments, especially unsuccessful ones. You can only truly understand that you are healthy if you have ever been ill. This insight is the most commonplace and familiar to other specialists. Lawyers teach the law based on crimes, doctors try to cure diseases. This is the philosophical approach: a person gets a chance to understand who he is and how he behaves if something is wrong. But due to the total focus on success, entrepreneurs stop pushing their boundaries and thinking.
The Philosophy of Failure
Failure is a much broader topic in philosophy than success. Thus, business needs a philosophy that is based on failure and can translate real problems into experience – a source of knowledge. The existence of the capitalist system is also much more dependent on failure: modern capitalism could not develop without bankruptcy laws and restrictions on the liability of enterprises. To a lesser extent, its development implies a safe path to success, but it means the search for legal, social and philosophical ways to circumvent the constraints. Any new business philosophy should be built on the concept of failure and bad experiences, not a cynical ideal of success.