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Philosophy for everyone,
This review is from: If Aristotle Ran General Motors (Paperback)
This book is not intended for the professional philosopher but for those in the business world who have an interest in business ethics. It would be quite useful as a text for kicking off an undergraduate business ethics course. Morris takes a different approach than one might expect when addressing the foundations of business ethics and excellence. Rather than focusing on rules, compliance, and the like, he places the soul of business in the context of a good life in general. He offers the idea that the foundations for sustainable excellence in business are the same as the foundations for excellence in life: truth, beauty, goodness, and unity, which correspond to four dimensions of human experience- intellectual, aesthetic, moral, and spiritual.
Truth is the foundation of trust in all of life, including the life of business. Pragmatically speaking, an atmosphere of trust will actually increase efficiency in the workplace, given the amount of time and energy wasted by gossip, rumor, and speculation. An environment with respect for the truth should contain respect for people as well. Given this, the truth must be handled in a manner consistent with beauty, goodness, and unity.
Beauty is important in part because it liberates, refreshes, restores, and inspires us. If we surround ourselves with beauty, and are attentive to its presence in our work, this can foster excellence. For Morris, the best businesses are those that are beautiful structures in which human beings can work, grow, and flourish.
Goodness is about living well, to the fullness of our capabilities. Ethical living is not restrictive or constraining, but fosters fulfillment. In any corporate human endeavor, good people in harmonious relationships yields individual and corporate strength.
Unity for Morris has to do with the spiritual dimension of life. Here he draws from existentialist thought as well as that of several religious traditions. This foundation for excellence includes living in and from the depths of ultimate reality, as well as being connected to others, the rest of nature, and to the Ground of all Being, as he puts it.
The result of all of this is human fulfillment and true excellence in whatever context we find ourselves in, including the context of a company. The best business will include collaboration, in which people put their individual excellence to work in partnership with one another, carrying out a shared vision that is mutually developed.
The upshot is not a set of procedures or management strategies, but what the reader should take away is a desire toask and answer the right kinds of questions about life and business:
"How can I enhance the level of truth, the experience of beauty, the assurance of goodness, and the sense of unity felt by people who work around and with me?" (p. 213)