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Ethics, Sustainability and Our New Realities Ethics, Sustainability and Our New Realities
by Murray Hunter
2012-09-03 09:24:57
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It is our perception and the meaning we construct to what we see that defines the environment that we exist within. Without our perception, the environment has no definition and no meaning; the meaning originates from our social relatedness and consciousness. We project our own versions of reality onto the environment and make interpretations through introspection, and this is what defines the nature of the environment. Even the simplest environments are complex, something we usually don’t consider, having multiple meanings for us to interpret and understand. When it comes to our reality, our self and environment cannot exist without the other. Our individual perspectives can only be the partial truth.

Currently there is an increasing consensus and mutual understanding between quantum mechanics and theology, particularly Eastern theology. Each stream of thinking is coming to some accommodation with the other, although this is not abetted by grave criticism from some quarters. Nonetheless the meaning of our very existence and self identity, awareness, and consciousness has become a very popular subject, not from the 19th Century philosophical perspectives, but from the spiritual viewpoint, free of institutional religion. A crisis of faith and rapid political and socio-economic structural transformations are taking place which is leaving the classical ethical philosophies to the history books, as if they are deemed not relevant to today’s post industrial societies. Obedience to traditional authorities and institutions have waned in favour of geographical and social mobility where urbanization, new emerging technologies, media and peer opinion. Membership and identity is anchored to different symbols, values, and institutions than was the case twenty, thirty, and fifty years ago. 

In a similar manner to cognitive science, quantum mechanics is on the verge of new understanding of the universe, totally changing the way we understand it. The Newtonian paradigm of a set order, place, and independent existence, where objects are tangible, definable, solid, existing, and where interaction with other objects was of secondary importance has influenced our comprehension of conceptual reality. Independent reality prevailed. However within the quantum world objects exist in a relational manner to each other in a phenomenal reality, far from being the static entities that Newtonian physics envisaged. This relational manner infers interdependence for existence, rather than independence.

These relational concepts are difficult to comprehend within industrialized occidental society, where orientations have been towards independence rather than interdependence, probably a paradigm that blocked physicists’ awareness of quantum interdependencies for many years. When relational principles are applied to the humans, we see the inter-connectiveness of our body where all organs are somehow linked and must work together to create continuous interactive processes or else we will not exist as a person. Humanity itself lives within an interconnected Earth that is able to seek self-balance, as if it were a living entity. Humankind, the Earth, and the universe are interconnected and only exist through our perception. Our realties are culturally defined which connects us as a society. According to Daniel Goleman, our brain has developed where our interrelationships develop a brain to brain link up, primarily through the communication of emotions. Even our thinking and reasoning depends upon socially manifested language for meaning. We are not independent of anything.

This complexity is contrary to how the brain tries to order things, as our cognitive architecture is limited. The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s postulation that we are not human beings having a spiritual existence; we are spiritual beings having a human existence brings us into the metaphysical esoteric, which cannot be avoided in such subject material. What we must ask here is whether we are really getting closer to understanding the concept of our true self reality, or are we just creating another paradigm to explain our identity in a different way.

What is important to this argument is what is our “true nature” and how does our “true nature” link to ethics and sustainability? Is this a socio-cultural link? Or is this a link of universal nature? In other words are there inner assumptions and values inherent within us or are they completely socialized? How are they relevant to the phenomenology of our thinking, opportunity, action, strategy, and the universe of objects within our environment?

We must identify the phenomenon that blocks us from seeing our true self, so we can understand the interrelationships between self, ethics, sustainability, and opportunity and strategy. What gives us our ethical outlook? Are our ethical bondages associated in any way with our true nature? How have they been covered up by our society, civic and religious values? And, if so, how do we handle them? Are we just encoded biological robots, or is there something much more substantive in us?

What gives us our views about sustainability? Why do we believe in the human mythology about our immortality, superiority of the human species, and our ability to dominate nature? Is the realization of our “true nature” going to change anything? Is our awareness important to survival as we know it? Why do we create defence mechanisms to deny these realities? Why do we continue to deny these realities that conflict with the myths we live by?

The development of our cerebral cortex gave rise to our higher levels of consciousness. This gave humankind many new brain functions with the capacity for both social and environmental interaction. We became thinking mammals that could take account of both the self and the environment in our actions. This brings back the question of who are we?

The concepts of “I” and “me” is a constructed identity and all of our behaviour is construed within this identity. This is the false self that we live within which performs the role of a macro-defence guarding mechanism maintaining our survival, and suppressing the innate qualities of our true self. However this comes at great cost. The identity that we create to protect ourselves becomes our identity, and we don’t even know it.

When we can escape the influence of our emotions, and this requires a massive effort focusing our attention, we begin through our innate empathy to develop an understanding of our self, others, and the environment. The intensity of “I” and “me” sublimes into the background with our emotions. The boundaries become blurred and we start coming in touch with part of our self that we are not normally aware of. For example, a ‘macho’ male may find doors to his feminine side, a hardnosed accountant may develop compassion for others in need that he or she previously didn’t realize were in need, and a person may come to the realization that they are hurting people with their behaviour. These are all insights into other realities that we don’t normally see. Eventually under all of our emotions we find a simple state of humility, awe at life around us, and a feeling of joy.

This is where we can see connections like never before. We see the world as a connected entity, connected by stories, interactions, proximity, phenomena, and being. When we buy a pair of shoes from a shop assistant in New York, Sydney, or London, we see the life of the person as a human that has meaning. We see the organization he or she works for, the immigrant workers who work behind the store, their stories, disappointments and aspirations. We see the people assembling the shoes in factories in far off lands, their life and challenges, their children, and the schools they attend. We see the farmers grazing the cattle that will end up as leather for the shoes will use. This is all part of an interdependent chain of activity and being. This creates meaning. We are connected as one system.

If we accept these interconnections, interrelationships, and interdependencies, we have a collective unconscious. Jung went further and posed that there is a collective unconscious as a prehistoric collection of information, instincts, myths, stories, images, universal symbols that are universally understood across all cultures. The ‘collective unconscious’ embeds all our ancestral experience and concepts of religion and morality. This inherited content is passed from generation to generation and is part of a transcendental reality, linking mind to mind and mind to nature. All people are born with this reservoir of our experience as a species. Although we are not conscious of it, this collective past influences our present behaviour. Some experiences that may come from the ‘collective unconscious’ include, love at first sight, déjà vu experiences, immediate recognition of some symbols, reactions to music (like the drum beat), and near death experiences.

To Jung this proved some connection with all nature through the ‘collective unconscious’. Jung likens the external world to one of illusion, something similar to the world of Maya in Hindu theology. Our egos (jivatman) are individual souls which are actually extensions of the one and only Atman, universal energy or God who allows an independent identity to manifest itself in part of himself. Through this we are all connected, independent, but interdependent. When we die we realize the illusion that we actually existed as we are part of God.

These ideas were considered esoteric at the time but are becoming integrated into the concepts of quantum mechanics today. If we disagree with Jung, we can believe in institutionalized religion, a supreme being and our supreme place on Earth. Another alternative is that we are biological robots with brains that function in a similar manner to a computer with schemata as programs. When we die, the brain goes dead and our identity is lost, just like machine-code being erased from the RAM when a computer is switched off.

A realization of the humility of our true self will bring a profound realization of our interdependence with each other and the world around us. This decreases our sense of “I am” and “me”, increasing our concern for all life. If we stare at the planets in the night sky and try to imagine the distances from Earth involved, we soon realize how insignificant we really are. We are just one person in the whole universe, so how can I focus on ‘me’ without harming the whole. We have no worldly justification for our self centeredness, yet our emotionally attached self is usually painfully connected to the emotions and desires that we have learned to have from our social constructions. This colours our sense of humility, takes away our awareness, sense of fairness to others and our innate sense of morality.

Our abstractions have evolved to a paradigm where everything is commoditized to the extent where relationships can be seen as a trade of favours, affection, support, sex, and service in exchange for the fulfilment of personal needs and wants by others. Value to the individual and others is the denominator and definer of relationships.

Our tendency as individuals is to make decisions that tend to benefit the self over decisions that fulfil ethical obligations to others. Again there is a conflict between ‘what is best for me?’ and ‘what is the right thing to do?’ which is usually answered according to the constructs of our self. Everyday decisions often have paradoxes due to their particular situational circumstances that are not covered by civic and legal codes. For example a salesperson desperately requiring a large order to achieve his or her budget, may accept an order from a customer knowing that his or her firm doesn’t have the capacity to supply it, which would put the customer to great inconvenience. In such cases only decisions based upon our “true nature” without the influence of emotions will be able to govern ethical conduct. The ultimate test is whether we feel comfortable, where the answer will most often depend upon the level of self one is anchored to [66]. Most issues are complex situations, not easily addressed by ethical rules, thus relying on our intuition for solutions.

Some people don’t realize we are doing destructive things that hurt others. Sometimes this hurt can lead to grave and serious illness. If we switch our self from the usual “I am” to a different viewpoint, i.e., the feeling of being superior, equal, or inferior to another, from one of these viewpoints we can generate new sets of emotions. For example, if we take a superior view point to others we may generate intensive highhandedness. If we view others as equals we may generate feelings of jealousy and competitiveness, and if we view others from an inferior position, we may generate feelings of jealousy and envy. This helps us see the perspectives of our false sense of ourselves and the source of our behaviours. If we can substitute humility for our emotions (humility does not mean subservience or inferiority), we can see our relationships without the emotional intensities that existed before. We can see our inter-connectiveness, how our actions hurt people, and how we stray from our innate morality.

It’s easy for us to be destructive. It’s easy for us to be complacent. It’s easy for us to follow society and go with the flow. What is difficult is to accept who we are, and from the humility of our self be creative. Humankind is good at being destructive and maintaining what is, as it feels secure. One of our deepest desires is to feel secure and this is what society and belongingness provides. Our innate sense of humility has been covered up by our primal sense of greed.

On the scale of civilization, many nations have amassed more resources than they really need. This drives the economic system where greed translates into borrowing and consumption. All done because this is what society expects and we are shaped and nurtured by what society collectively values. As Garrett Hardin postulated, justice, liberation and natural self determination, serve to cover up the true motives of greed, envy, and power.

Our economics paradigm is partly based on our greed, rational in the sense of being efficient. Therefore the cheapest and most economical way of doing things is the most desirable. As resources don’t necessarily reflect their true costs and the cost of waste doesn’t as yet form any part of the accounting system, our current methods of exploiting resources, farming, and manufacturing will always be unsustainable. Mines, logging, conventional mono-cropping systems, massive centralized urban development creating mega-cities, are affecting life as we know it, changing both the balances of the eco-system and the psycho-system of humanity. Our consumption has great costs whether we like it or not. Production and consumption are expressions of power. We have the power to utilize the resources of the Earth and produce what we want. This marking of the environment is not much different than cats marking their territories with their urine. Our behaviour is just sophisticated animal behaviour. We don’t know any better as we are socially programmed to act this way.  

Technology has enabled the exponential growth of consumption. Through technology we have been able to extract more resources from our biosphere and let go of the wastes back into the troposphere with the blessings of institutionalized religion which deemed mankind the master of all species on the Earth. The digging up of our resources, amassing them for ourselves, and dumping the wastes after our consumption is just the reality created by our primal and material self on a global scale. And just as our primal and material self operates, all this was done without much thinking as a collective being. Rather this is being done through our ignorance and reptilian greed – disconnected from our reasoning. Our cerebral cortex is still dominated by our reptilian brain which keeps us territorial animals, greedy to amass more resources for select groups, without the ability to see consequences of our actions. Our discoveries, knowledge, development have all been undertaken in the fear of survival and in the fulfilment of our collective ego to show how great we are over others, with the narrative of “we are superior to you”.

Our existence through socialization and religion on Earth has been arrogant, when we are actually only one of many passing species calling the Earth our home. Humans have been on the earth for about 100,000 years, only a very short time in relation to the age of the universe, which is approximately 4,000 billion years old. Civilization only developed around 4,000 years ago, yet over the last 200 years, the biosphere has been threatened in a profound way, unprecedented by any other species over the last billion years.

Nature has created almost two million species of which humankind are only one of them. The earth has been inhabited by an additional 7.8 million species which don’t exist today. Humankind depends upon the other species and environment for survival, yet humankind has developed it’s own arrogance and ignorance of the environment, enforced by collective beliefs, which are reinforced by culture, religion, morals, and laws. It is the system of current ethics and beliefs that are restricting us, as life on Earth is sustainable, but we are not. This narrow ego-centric sense of who we are is only a social construction that has been at the centre of our humanity, holding back progress. For example, up until the Seventeenth Century, we thought that the Sun, Moon, and planets of our solar system all revolved around the Earth.

We actually own nothing. “I am” and “me” is only a passing entity that is custodian of an illusion. We share the Earth, can never control it, we can temporarily occupy it, but the moment we think we own it, our awareness falls into one of the domains of our self that deludes our perceptions and sense of morality. A custodian rather than an owner has a responsibility of mutual respect to share the resources of the Earth and consider the other custodians. Taking would be on the basis of need rather than want. Therefore our ethics and responsibilities are not civic, are not philosophical, are not doctrine, are not dogma, they are part of our innate true nature. 

Our emotions enable us to take specific paths within a universe full of multiple possibilities of reality. It is here that our emotions override our innate sense of morality taking us away from the potential universe that our true self could prevail within. As emotions are universal to different cultures common archetypes of greed, indulgence, envy, jealousy, need for power and control, etc., take us down a universe of reality that is parallel but different from a universe of innate humility. The universe is a state of mind and through the dominating archetypes of emotion, they become physical ones with phenomenon occurring according to the laws of the archetype governing it. We are locked through socialized psychic constitutions with certain sets of emotions that endlessly go around and around creating the same history, without any possibility of seeing that we are hurting others.

It is the archetypes that we see the world through that gives meaning to the world. This defines our own reality and potential future possibilities. The values we put on things are the “truths” – all reality is our construction. As Jung postulated, mankind is the second creator of the world and gives it objective existence.

Towards New Ethics and Sustainability

 

The problem with the above arguments about ethics and our responsibilities towards sustainability is that the ideas of self humility are too far away from the mainstream of world philosophical thought. This was unlike the American Indian, Australian Aboriginal, and New Zealand Maori civilizations that saw their role in life to act as custodian of the land for future generations. These were sustainable civilizations that only demised because of invasion and massacre. The contemporary world is caught up in the narrative of economic development and progress.

The ego-centric focus on “I” and “me” prevents humanity even understanding what the true problems really are. Current liberal ethics that most societies are based upon have little room for personal enlightenment. Institutionalized religion sees personal enlightenment as an affront to traditional theology and is therefore not condoned. Our personal sense of sustainability is confused with the myths that religion has given us, deeming ourselves as the master of all species, where in fact we are just one of the species and caretaker of the earth for the next generation. Through our technical progress we feel that we can control nature, which we can’t, so when we realize that we are not immortal and don’t control nature, we either become spiritual beings, work hard to build a legacy to surpass our own death, or become psychotic trying to deny the truth.

Environmental destruction simply continues because it creates profits for those in control of the resources and the global markets that demand them. Powerful organizations both control and depend upon this. As we saw with the 2008 bail outs of US corporations, they are a protected species, not just embedded within the fabric of capitalism, but they are capitalism itself. We have also seen that central planning does no better of a job than the capitalist model, and the capitalist model itself is under threat.

The capitalist system, although providing growth, has failed in providing wellbeing and equity in most national scenarios and on a global basis. Economies are facing grave macroeconomic imbalances that are reflected in high rates of unemployment, massive budgeting deficits, highly unstable currencies, balance of payments imbalances, and highly volatile resource, commodity, and equity markets. In addition most country’s resources have been exploited at rates that will see their depletion within a relatively short time span. A by-product of the current capitalist system is the increase of carbon and other ‘greenhouse’ gases released into the atmosphere and waterways to the extent never seen before in the history of world evolution. This has been accompanied by high rates of urbanization, the loss of traditional ways of life, the declining rate of biodiversity on the planet, stress, frustration, crime, mental illness and suicide. Absolute poverty in the underdeveloped world is still in mammoth numbers and relative poverty is on the rise in the developed world.

The prevailing nature of ego-centric organizations and the geo-political divide and their conquering mentality is driving this destruction even further. Our unsustainable practices are linked to the myths that humankind has created to cope with our mortality and powerlessness. We live with a “scorched Earth mentality”, with little concern for the coming generations after us. Current solutions on the table for solving climate, food, population, resource, and sustainability issues are like what Ulrich Beck called “a bicycle brake on an international jet”.

The restriction of plastic shopping bags, reduction of air conditioning temperatures, and the use of biodiesel are measures that won’t make a significant difference. These measures look and sound good on the surface, and are measures governments and corporations are employing as a fallacy to save the world. For every plastic shopping bag saved, a tree is being illegally chopped down in a tropical rainforest somewhere without any hesitation at all. More ecological problems are caused by the primitive rather than industrialized practices.

Most popular literature on sustainability is devoid on the morality of the issue and offer a functionalist and instrumentalist approach within the narrative of branding, strategy, competitive advantage, and market. They offer solutions to the symptoms rather than the root causes of the problems.

There needs to be a paradigm change in our logic and narrative that can transcend our rigid and culturally set ways of doing things to a new level. The current ecological crisis is primarily a crisis of our own ideas and approaches to the human-nature nexus. We have measured success and wealth by what we have, therefore a new definition of wealth and success is required. Our development must take account of both the present and the future to meet our entire needs and keep the environment in equilibrium. This means redefining the goals of humanity which would result in new cultural and social traditions that can form the foundations of a new society. This will involve replacing technological dominating, reductionist, mechanistic orientation with an anti-mechanistic orientation that promotes a new social order. Anything else would be superficial, appeasing, and stopgap.

Ethics and sustainability cannot be treated as being independent of everything else within our lives. These concerns must be integrated into the person before they can be integrated into the organization. To think otherwise would be a big mistake.

Our economic system is supported on the basis that human beings are rational and calculate matters according to their own interests. This translates into selfishness and greed where natural resources are harvested and used wastefully, often in the most uncreative ways. Likewise technology increases productivity and enables the production of surpluses which can benefit many. If this waste did not exist and our resources were distributed fairly, poverty would no longer exist today. The problems of the world can be fixed by a matter of redistribution. In addition, through proper practices more than double the population of today can be fed through agriculture. By definition there can be no sustainability without equity.

However in actual fact poverty is not the real problem, it’s only a symptom. The real problem is the hijacking of our innate humility by our emotions. Most attempts to solve world poverty have failed because they have been motivated by fame and gain by many of the World’s institutions. How many times have they tried? How many times have they failed?

Leadership is a matter of morality, rather than a tool for looking after sectional interests. Even our concept of freedom is based on individualism. Liberal parliamentary democracies are adversarial in nature where the winner takes all.

The world is always changing according to the doctrine of natural selection. Natural selection is the basis of competition through the Schumpeterian concept of creative destruction that has driven our evolution and development. According to the doctrine of natural selection the species struggle for survival culminates with only the fittest surviving. However we are finding out plants, animals, and even the biosphere works in cooperation rather than competition with other entities to survive. We still live in a state of blissful ignorance; the metaphor of Adam and Eve taking the forbidden fruit of sustainability. Our current practices as a species have evolved out of our lack of awareness and cultural ignorance of the consequences for survival. We still have not developed the correct practices required for survival in our global situation today. The shifting balance of power between humankind and the Earth is a question of great importance. Natural selection is about trial and error until a species determines the current practices that are necessary for survival. Our constructed human paradigms need to change.

To truly achieve this requires awareness. Seeing through our dysfunctional behaviours needs awareness. Vision needs awareness, living in the now and a balanced locus of control. This is vital in tapping our psychic and physical energies.

We must also forget about our past stories of successes and failure so we can look at any opportunities in unique ways, rather than the ways of the past that emotionalize what we see. We must also eliminate the hopes and excitement we might have for the future so that we can evaluate the issues without allowing expectation to influence us.

The author doesn’t mean perfection, as perfection itself is just another form of emotional defence. Perfection may stop learning, which is vital to any opportunity, strategy, and organization. The goal should be balance between all the competencies we have, rather than perfection in any one area. It’s the journey we must value, not the end. Reaching the end is just another delusion which puts finality to something, where it may just be the beginning. Systems never have beginnings and ends. Believing one has reached the end will stifle initiative, creativity, and ingenuity in favour of complacency.

Intellect triggers rational consideration and adversarial debate about issues which brings up our defences preventing feeling and intuition. Mastery is not based on intelligence and knowledge. It’s about experience and the feelings one derives. It’s possible to read everything and gain instruction about how to drive a car. But until one has actually sat in the car and tried to drive it, one will never experience the feeling of what it is like to drive a car. Without experience intelligence and knowledge has little use. Awareness is the key to feeling. If we are not aware, we can never experience. Intelligence and knowledge without awareness is just like a book on a shelf. Without the knowledge from the book being used and felt, it is primarily useless.  Mastery is not about success, it is also about failure and learning. True mastery is about persistence and perseverance.

Once our awareness develops, we will start to see the multiple perspectives the environment offers. Just like the line drawing of the cube at the beginning of this chapter, everything has multiple perspectives. However these multiple perspectives can bring contradictions and confusion. Our intelligence and knowledge cannot easily make sense or meaning out of it. Only our feelings from experience and intuitive skills develop a perspective from which we can make meaning. We have to learn that life is not based on fact, but perspective. The major decisions made in business and war, have been made from perspective, rather than the facts. Perspective defines our reality and how we respond accordingly, which is counterintuitive to how we have been made to believe we should think. We need awareness to have true wisdom.

The simple act of listening shows how we sometimes wander through life with a low level of awareness. How many times when someone is speaking to you, are you preoccupied with other things? How often do we daydream when others are speaking? How often do you believe that what you think is right and what the other has to say is not worth listening to? How often are you just waiting for an opportunity to espouse what you think? How often are you just thinking of rebuttals, arguments against what a person is saying rather than actually listening to the content of what they are actually saying? How often are you making judgments about the person speaking or what they are saying? How often are you looking for an opportunity to disagree, agree, or run away? How often are you evaluating and comparing what a person is saying against what you believe? How often do you fail to seek clarification about something you don’t understand? Do you try and control the interaction by trying to dominate the conversation? Our listening habits usually show that our level of personal awareness is low and we are influenced by so much of our own emotion just in the act of listening to someone. This is at the cost of seeing new perspectives and exercising our ability to empathize with others.

The ability to listen effectively is a powerful tool in developing awareness, empathy, humility, and consequently understand new perspectives. Listening is much more than hearing, it involves being attentive to what others say, observing emotion, behaviour and body language, facial expressions, and fighting off our own internal distractions that lessen of ability to listen. Listening requires much more discipline, attention, and concentration than we expect. Think about it, how much self discipline do we need to really effectively listen to someone? Once we have achieved the discipline, attention, and concentration really needed to listen, we realize how powerful a tool listening is in understanding what a person has to say, and from where emotionally a person is saying it. Listening skills can be developed and refined through active and reflective listening techniques, where the listener repeats, paraphrases and reflects upon what the speaker is saying as a means of clarifying the message that the speaker is intending to convey to us.

This is a personal struggle. When we are aware that our thinking is slipping into the negative, focus on thinking uplifting thoughts, as the brain can only process one thought at a time. In this way, through disciplined practice, one can reduce the negativity within the mind, by changing the thinking flow, in a similar way one changes slides on a projector.

Our identity begins to evolve, becoming sustainable and able to flow with the forces of change around us. We are aware of our own emotions and what delusions they try to develop in us. Once we can see through these delusions, our ego-centric tendencies begin giving way to a real sense of humility. Our innate sense of morality emerges. We see the crisis of meaning around us, the lack of morality, greed and selfishness, capitalism for what it really is, and the unsustainable ways of our society. We begin to question society’s dreams and replace them with our own, gaining our personal freedom from the repression of our society, our freedom to have and follow our own aspirations. This is where our personal transformation takes place and we reincarnate or regenerate into a new sense of self and orientation towards life.

It is only when we have this personal ability to change that we can work through the pain of changing organizations. Leadership is about shifting style to fit changing situations, although values and ethics will remain as solid as a rock. Liberation is about awareness to see new ideas, opportunities within a complex environment and have the confidence to transcend our current state of mind through enacting upon our new perceptions. The most probable ethical leadership qualities that will have importance to management for perhaps the rest of this century may include;

A leader must have empathy to understand. However this empathy must not be mechanical, it must be a way of being. People need the quality of the leader’s presence in the ‘here and now’ committed wholeheartedly to the interaction.

A leader should always have an ethical framework within his or her mindset that looks at possibilities that maximize benefits for the Earth and welfare of the people.

These ethics should be applied consistently without any lapse. This may often mean that many decisions may not make financial gain for the firm in the short term. This may also mean that some decisions may not have a clearly immediate ethical path to follow. This will be a quality that will be extremely critical to the survival of firms in the future.

A leader must perform his or her duties without fear or favour to stakeholders. Decisions and appointments must be merit based, fair, transparent, sincere, and not in any deceitful way to the public.

A leader should never exploit others.

A leader should ensure that his or her organization puts more resources back into the community that it takes out.

A leader must be close to his or her people, working alongside (if possible), and interested in what is happening. Leading by example is the most powerful way to win respect and change the assumptions, beliefs, and values of a firm when needed.

A leader should be very self disciplined and never lose their temper, succumb to anger, or show their stress, etc., to others.

A leader should not be motivated by personal gain and fame.

A leader should show humility and not arrogance, and

A leader should not be deluded by past successes and rest on their or the company’s laurels.

Research has shown that high ethical standards on peoples’ behaviour has a high influence on the level of trust by potential customers, suppliers, financiers, and employees, the public and business partners and as such creates opportunities for a firm that may not have otherwise existed.

The mistake people make is that they may do these things once, when this must be a continual process, a journey, not an end. Just look at the number of declining Fortune List companies. Morality and sustainability are linked to survival, and survival is linked to adaptation, which humans are loathed at doing.

 

 


     
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Emanuel Paparella2012-09-03 14:29:11
Thank you Prof. Hunter for an informative and very interesting survey on ethics and sustainability directly related to the problem of the survival of homo sapiens and the philosophical underpinning of whether or not he is endowed with free will by which to choose his own destiny. Certainly, if he chooses extinction he will have demonstrated even to skeptics that he was not so intelligent as we surmised.

Indeed the underpinning of the problem are more philosophical than scientific. You mention progress at one point. In part, our idea and conception of “progress” is what may do us in as a species. There is a movie out titled “Hell on Wheels” which says it all in a nutshell. It describes the arrival of the train in the West of the US and what it does to the culture of native American tribes who see it as an invasion of their land and their way of life.

The capitalist who is building the railroad, the business man, on the other hand, sees it as “job creation” and “progress.” Important to observe here that such progress is conceived deterministically as inevitable, which means it cannot be stopped and if the natives dare impede it in any way, well then “social Darwinism” kicks in and the smarter more “progressive” species will win out: might is right after all. The capitalist is in fact astonished that the natives do not exhibit more gratefulness for the arrival of progress, i.e., hell on wheels duly apotheosized at the opening of the Olympic games this year.

Enter Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan and Mit Romney who made a joke of the raising of the oceans and the healing of the earth at the RNC the other day. With the blind leading the blind, I am afraid it is going to get worse, much worse, before it begins to get better. If on the other hand it is too late, and we don’t know yet, then nothing will save us, not even the contemplation of nature in the lotus position...

What did Heidegger say? Only a god can save us now. The silver lining in all this, the ray of hope, is that human kind has been at the brink of extinction before (down to a few thousand individuals) and by the skin of its teeth it has somehow saved itself. Providence at work? Be that as it may, it may be helpful to know that fact so that we don’t end up reinventing the wheel and thinks we have made a great discovery.


Martin LeFevre2012-09-03 21:31:52
This standard 'hermeneutical' position is false, anthropocentric, and egocentric. It is not inevitable that "we project our versions of reality and make interpretations through introspection." It is absurd to insist that doing so "is what defines the nature of the environment." With passive attention to its movement, symbolic thought can be completely still. Then there is no projection. To insist that we inevitably "project our own versions of reality onto our environment" is a self-fulfilling prophecy that denies insight, as well authentic exploration in dialogue.

It isn't a matter of "reinventing the wheel and thinking we have made a great discovery," as Professor Paparella continues to odiously assert. Prior learning has its place, obviously; just not first place.

Since I have been forced off this site (contrary to what Thanos and Eva have said, with Paparella gleefully asserting another victory over contributors who don't genuflect before his vast knowledge), readers can find my column at: http://www.costaricantimes.com/. Of course, this comment will probably be censored as 'insulting,' even as I have been called a 'narcissist, megalomaniac, navel gazer in California,' which Thanos does not see as insulting somehow.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-03 22:47:11
Since my name and Thanos' name is mentioned once again by Mr. LaFevre, whose name has not been mentioned in any of my last three or four contributions, and it has become apparent to me that he is not interested in a dialogue, I am compelled once again to respond and apologize to the editors and the readers for a wilful diatribe that wants to pass as philosophy.

Indeed, the above may not be very philosophical or innovative but certainly it reveales a vivid inventive imagination..., especially that reference to "gleeful assertions" of victory and the expectation of readers to genuflect...obviously Mr. LeFevre is is a clarvoyant besides being a contemplative and is surely familiar with Catholic ritual, I wager he was a Catholic at one time and now he merely has an ax to gring against it; now he presents himself as a philosopher but that is quite problematic since a philosopher worthy of that name is in the first place aware of one's shasow in Plato's cave, refuses to project it with argumenti ad hominem and does not confuse the winning of arguments and axes to grind, which is sophistry, for the search for truth. And to get at those principles one need not reinvent the wheel; all one has to do is read Plato's Apology. We need not even be ready to die for one's principles as Socrates was; all we have to do is respect the truth and follow an argument rationally, rationality being part of human nature, no matter where it leads.


Murray Hunter2012-09-04 02:48:47
My writing was so inspired by your articles. Its so ironic that you now label what you have been saying as absurd, as I have only taken the spirit of what you have been saying about mindfulness and applied it to our problems. You are dissagreeing with the latest ideas about cognitive science. The last two paragraphs have little to do with me and I guess your attack on my ideas is just a forum to exert your personal anger. You are deeply in both my wife's and my thoughts and prayers and hope that you will be able to rise above your emotions and see the reality of what is going on. Your anger actually shows that what I have written applies to your through introspection and projection. You are certainly projecting your anger at my article. Anyway thank you deeply for your criticism. I will research much deeper into this issue.


Martin LeFevre2012-09-04 06:13:59
I appreciate the sentiment Prof. Hunter, but if you had understood what I've been saying at all, you would never say, "We project our own versions of reality onto the environment and make interpretations through introspection." So my writing couldn't have inspired you, and that saddens me and makes me doubt the whole enterprise of trying to convey insight through the written word.

Also, I did not say that what you have been writing is absurd; some of what you say rings quite true. What I said was that the idea that our interpretations "define the nature of the environment" is absurd.

On one hand you say you have "taken the spirit of what [i] have been saying about mindfulness and applied it to our problems," but on the other hand you say I am "dissagreeing with the latest ideas of cognitive science." Which is it? I do disagree with the latest ideas of cognitive science, a misguided field if there ever was one. Neuroscience upholds the anthropocentric attitude under another guise--the study of the human brain. Its specific findings are often irrefutable while its underlying philosophy is irrepressibly wrong. So again, you could not have been inspired by what I've been saying.

As far as the incorrect and unfair accusation that I have been using this "forum to exert [my] personal anger," you demonstrate either great blindness or considerable cruelty. Where were you when my insights and person were being viciously attacked in the sneakiest and darkest of ways? You're right, that makes me angry, but we all have the right to defend ourselves, as long as we don't sink to the level of our attackers. Have I?

I admit however that you are correct to the degree that some anger at the repeated, sneaky attacks by a contributor has spilled over onto your column. But I would again ask: where were you when my column needed defending?

Since what we call prayer is usually projected thought, I would ask that I not be "deeply in both [your] wife's and [your] thoughts and prayers." Especially since you're saying that you "hope that [i] will be able to rise above [my] emotions and see the reality of what is going on" makes my blood boil.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-04 15:16:27
Professor Hunter, trascending subjective diatribes that are not the concern of philosophy or science but have unfortunately crept in under your very interesting and perceptive article, I am wondering if you’d agree that the introductory idea of your perceptive article on cognition and its relation to the environment is some way dovetails Berkeley’s insight that “to be is to be perceived.”

I also wonder if Berkeley in turn would agree with Plato’s Forms and with Augustine’s Christian insight that the universe is an idea in the mind of God and that man is created in his image and that as such he is free to choose his own destiny just as God was free to create or not to create. Those ideas, perhaps we can agree, have been around for millennia now but continue to stimulate interesting dialogues and a demand for in depth philosophical discussion and debate beyond the purely empirical phenomenological concerns of science.

Which is to say, I for one find it uncanny how modern science in its unique mode of searching for truth is in some way discovering, to its surprise, that theologians such as Plato, Augustine and Berkely had it right all along in philosophizing about consciousness, the self and perception; especially so in the field of modern quantum mechanics.

Pertinent in this respect is the warning of Kant that we ought to be a bit more humble and accept the limitations of reason and be aware that when we go outside the real of the phenomenal into the that of the numenon we are no longer doing philosophy. The problem now, it seems to me, is that there are ignoramuses, especially among myopic politicians, who go around debunking both philosophy and science and denying that there is global warming and that we as a species are partly, if not wholly, responsible for it. In other words in our pragmatism and relativism, they are proposing that truth does not matter any more, only what works and is functional. What think ye?


Murray Hunter2012-09-04 18:47:08
There is such a great difference between knowledge and knowing embedded within the heart. Thank you for the lesson martin.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-04 21:03:08
Indeed, thank you for the rich food for thought, professor Hunter! Plato talked about the Forms outside of time and space, Aristotle talked about the life of the mind and contemplation of the highest things on the isle of the blessed, Augustine talked about the cosmos as an idea in the mind of God, Aquinas talked about faith transcending reason, Vico talked about imagination being integral part of reason from the beginning of human consciousness, Pascal talked about the heart having reasons that reason knows not, Nietzsche talked about the Enlightenment having to enlighten itself, Kant talked about the limitations of reason.

These great philosophers had a common insight: they all pointed out that our conception of reason needs to be more complete and holistic than mere computer-like rationality residing in a material brain, but none of them ever said that reason and rationality per se are to be discarded as useless vis a vis contemplation.

Not even Aquinas went that far when he stated that what he had written in the Summa was so much straw to be burned compared to what he had intuited mystically. Not only he did not burn the Summa but he is now the doctor of the Catholic Church and appropriately so.


Martin LeFevre2012-09-04 22:09:12
Thank you Murray.

It's very true that "There is such a great difference between knowledge and knowing embedded within the heart." Of course you're pointing to the crucial distinction between knowledge and wisdom, and the ancient question of the right balance between the heart and the head.

Obviously, reason and rationality have their place; it's a willful mischaracterization to imply that I've been saying otherwise. Indeed, I feel an honest reading of my column will show a high degree of logic, rationality, and evidence. More importantly, the inherently subjective experiencing of wholeness and holiness is testable by replication (without implying repetition or followership) in others. At least in those who have the urge to undividedly observe the movement of thought/emotion unfolding in the present within themselves. Encouraging readers to experiment with observing without an observer has been one of the core intents of my column.

In short, I'm simply saying that for true religious experiencing to occur, the mind has to grow deeply quiet, and that knowledge, reason, and even previous 'mystical experiencing' have to end in an arduous passive attention to the movement of thought. (That is hardly 'navel gazing.') Otherwise, knowledge and experience become like so much brush and thistle in the mind and heart, choking off the deepening of insight and wisdom within us.


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