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SPEAKING

We are grateful for Andrew Taggart’s contribution to this year’s Global Solutions Forum.  Throughout the first day of this international event, thoughtful presentations fueled  deep discussions on the nature of ethical leadership. Ideas abounded.  Indeed, the armchair pundits were comfortable, much too at ease for the intended purpose of our two day event.  Our selection of Andrew to be day one’s “closer,” could not have been more effective, more perfect.  Knowing Andrew’s interest and acuity in translating philosophical - sometimes idealistic - thinking into practical, ethical action, we asked him to present by “thinking aloud,” inspired by the day’s speakers and panel discussions.   I watched the audience grin, nod, jot notes, and wipe away tears as Andrew weaved a world view out of personal story-telling, ancient wisdom, and the potential of each individual in the rapt audience.  The Forum had many moving parts;  it was Andrew who gave it cohesive meaning.

 

Robert A. Bandani, Executive Director, Shoulder-to-Shoulder 

Since 2017, I've given public talks at, among other venues, KPMG, Big Think, TEDx (x 2), The Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (x 2), Global Solutions Forum, and Applied Brilliance. In these talks, I invite listeners to climb out of basic, often invisible assumptions we have unwittingly lived by in order, from this higher vantage point, to think more deeply about how we conduct ourselves.

Topics include Total Work, Wise Leadership, Psychotechnologies of Self-Transformation, and the Human Signficance of AI, among others.

TOTAL WORK

Total Work is the process, beginning at the end of the medieval period, by which human beings have been slowly transformed into Workers and nothing else as more and more aspects of human life have been transformed into work or into being work-like. The consequences of this process are unnecessary human suffering, the waning of the contemplative life, and the rise of nihilism. No panacea such as a four-day workweek or barring emails sent to employees on the weekends will go to the root of what ails us. Though they may be moves in the right direction, these are but half-measures that reject any serious philosophical and historical investigations without which Total Work shall morph and continue in new forms.

WISE LEADERSHIP

We need wise leaders before we need ethical leaders. Wise leaders cultivate, in the very least, the following virtues: perceptiveness, considerateness, thoughtfulness, and non-attachment to results. Leadership today lacks the foundation upon which and out of which a vibrant business culture, one oriented toward eudaimonia (or human flourishing), can grow.

psychotechnologies of self-transformation

Predicaments we currently face range from questions concerning the legitimacy of nation-states and the viability of liberal democracy to the intensification of social alienation and atomism to the loss of plant and animal species to the experience of nihilism. It's ordinarily believed that these predicaments arise from political and economic causes alone. I argue that their chief source is spiritual in nature, provided, in this case, that the word “spiritual” be understood in a very wide sense, and I suggest that the human species, at its current stage of cultural development, is simply not up to the task. For these reasons, if the human species is to flourish, we’ll need to engage in “psychotechnologies of self-transformation”: that is, in practices intending, at a more than cognitive level, to profoundly alter our felt understanding as well as the ways we conduct ourselves. At the center of this transformation should be the cultivation of what I’ll be calling “living wisdom.”

Human Significance

of ai

We cannot understand the cultural anxiety surrounding AI until we examine the models by which human beings have understood themselves. From Greek antiquity until the end of the medieval period, humans understood themselves as participants in a divine cosmos. Therefore, they looked both to the nature of reality--the cosmos--and to the divine to grasp their place in the order of things. Since the Renaissance, however, humans have slowly rejected the cosmos as well as the divine with the result that we have become "the measure of all things." The latter view is called Humanism. Because we perceive that our central quality--our practical intelligence, an intelligence concerned with thinking and doing--is now being challenged by AI, we are starting to lose our grip on who or what we are. Given our existential quandary, now, therefore, is the time for us to re-examine our metaphysical picture of reality in order to find room for a novel understanding that would situate human beings within a new cosmological vision of reality.