Sea Change or Just a Ripple

On August 19, 2019, the Business Roundtable made waves in the business press and the media in general with this press release. The key paragraph reads: Since 1978, Business Roundtable has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance. Each version of the document issued since 1997 has endorsed principles of shareholder primacy – that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders. With today’s announcement, the new Statement supersedes previous statements and outlines a modern standard for corporate responsibility. The full “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” is quoted below. Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning… Read More

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Pragmatism and Hope

I continue to read Rorty and have just discovered a critical link between pragmatism and hope that I missed when I ended my book, Flourishing, with a chapter on hope. At that point I was grappling with Andy Hoffman’s questions about the differences between optimism and hope. Hope can stand on its own feet, but becomes clearer when the connection to pragmatism is made. Let me start with a few lines from Rorty’s book, Philosophy and Social Hope: If there is anything distinctive about pragmatism it is that it substitutes the notion of a better human future for the notions of ‘reality’, ‘reason’ and ‘nature’. One may say of pragmatism… Read More

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Richard Rorty and the Right-brain

I am reading some of Richard Rorty’s work this summer. I was moved to do this by a critically paper that examined his political program. The paper, by Joshua Forstenzer, is titled, “Something Has Cracked: Post-truth Politics and Richard Rorty’s Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism.” The paper in available online from the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center’s occasional papers. The title comes from an extract from Rorty’s 1998 book, Achieving Our Country, Forstenzer uses as a prefatory note. I have filled out the quote (underlined) to reflect the full impact of the original. Edward Luttwak for example, has suggested the fascism may be the American future. The point of his book, The… Read More

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Love and Care

A friend just sent me a link to a blog post discussing the work of Thich Nhat Hanh, described in the post as the “legendary Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist.” I also subscribe to this blog, Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova, but I missed this one. Almost a lost opportunity because Nhat Hanh makes a marvelous connection between love and my use of “care.” I have walked quite gingerly in writing about love because its use is likely to be misunderstood by the largely technical/professional audience for my work. But after reading this blog, I’ll not be so cautious. I ordered the book, How to Love, that… Read More

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Literacy and Domination

I have been reading Leonard Shlain’s fascinating book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image. I wish I had encountered it before I had completed my now book. I have been referring to Iain McGilchrist for the last year or so as my primary source for the divided brain model, but Shlain has described the same dichotomy, using a completely different style, telling historic stories without adding any clinical data. I find his work just as compelling as McGilchrist’s. In this book, Shlain traces the many shifts between the two brain hemispheres that have occurred over human history and their consequences on human societies. His basic… Read More

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Natural Fireworks

This photo was taken about an hour before we watched fireworks from our porch. It provided the real fire for the evening. The setting Moon is just visible in the upper left. We don’t get one as spectacular every night, but do have more than our share during the summer. Our cottage is on the western side of a roughly north-south peninsula, offering us a rare view of sunsets over a small piece of the Atlantic. Every year Freeport has a show that is visible from our house. The bursts come over the trees about halfway between the setting Moon and already set Sun. This year, the night was so… Read More

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The “I” of Impeachment

Our President is fond of using the word, “I.” It is important to all of us in the US and elsewhere to understand exactly what that “I” means. It comes in two flavors. The first is personal, pointing at and completely circumscribed by the speaker’s body. This form is created, sui generis. The second arises from the institutional status of the speaker and is constrained by the deontic (obligatory) powers of the particular institution: in Trump’s case, those incumbent on the President of the United States. These are to be found in the Constitution, laws, court rulings, and established traditions. The difference is critical in determining the legitimacy of the… Read More

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A Preview of My Forthcoming Book

About a year ago I gave made a presentation of my recent work on flourishing to a conference of industrial designers in Oslo. The talk was chosen to be among a handful of papers to be published in a special edition of She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation. Don’t let the name daunt you; the paper is published in English. The paper, “Flourishing: Designing a Brave New World” follows the story-line of my coming book. It discusses the grounds for flourishing, the role of the brain hemispheres in creating our present social and environmental  precarious conditions, and some ways to change our trajectory toward a flourishing future.… Read More

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How to Use “Sustainability” Properly

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my new book in August. It develops the idea of flourishing far beyond my previous works and ties both the sources of our present unsustainable state and pathways to escape from future disasters to an understanding of the way the human brain works. I do not plan to write many posts elaborating these ideas until the book is out. But I was reminded that I have two other books that have led up to the story I am now telling by seeing a quote from the first, Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming our Consumer Culture on somebody’s blog. The quote… Read More

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For Better or Worse: Humans Are the Earth’s Keystone Species

Ruth and I watched a very moving movie last night at our local art house. “The Serengeti Rules” is a beautifully produced story of the discovery of a very important feature of ecosystems. Seen through the eyes, mouth, and work of six ecologically oriented scientists, the film focuses on the role of “keystone species” as the glue that sustains the integrity of ecosystems. The film is the work of Sean B. Carroll, himself a biological scientist. For anyone who cannot find the film, he has written a book with the same title that tells the story. Classic models of ecosystems were largely built on a hierarchical model with ascending trophic… Read More

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