Philosophy and the Real World: Leadership Class

So my partner so brilliantly wrote a piece Studying Philosophy, Getting a Job, and Saving the World. Which is ever so fitting for the question of what is a philosophy supposed to do to make some money in this world. I however am the philosopher that has spent time in a number of other fields. Some of these have been more conducive to philosophy than others. My current position is an Executive Director of Tri-County Love INC, a nonprofit that works with churches to help people in need.

My role puts me as a community leader in my small town and I regularly participate in leadership type activities. One particular leadership class caught my attention, because it was free for my wife and I, and it provided lunch and dinner.

One particular topic found our curriculum caught me off guard with my philosophical training. Granted in the field of leadership development, is a very progressive field and not as rigorous as analytic philosophy. The discussion of conflicts categorized them into relationship conflicts, data conflicts, interest conflicts, structural conflicts and value conflicts. The last is the one of most interest.

The curriculum defined value conflicts as “caused by perceived or actual incompatible belief systems.” Personally, I think the definition needs more, but I can agree with it for the class. However, a few sentences later we run across this problem. “Value disputes arise only when people attempt to force one set of values on others or lay claim to exclusive value systems that do not allow for divergent beliefs.”

Really… Did I just read that. No doubt they missed that the very statement written is a value statement. In our politically correct, want to offend no one culture, this statement is taken as a truth. It is likely the one absolute truth in the whole class.

Another quote to show the absurdity of this paragraph, “Differing values need not cause conflict.” This can only be true if we accept that harmony with others is a more important value than our current beliefs. However, there are some values that are actually of greater importance than harmony: justice, honesty and courage.

In a nutshell, what can I say that my background in philosophy has done? It gave me tools to critique information presented as truth, by understanding and finding the logical inconsistencies.

Paradox of Careers and Power

So, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about power, authority and the qualities that are possessed by some great leaders. I keep running into the same paradox over and over again found in certain careers. What I find is those who most desire a certain position may be quite likely to be the worst candidates for that position. This was first noticed in the following real life example.

My current city is without a mayor. City Council was prepared to vote him out due to some issues concerning his performance. In turn, he resigned, but not without demonstrating the controversy, fighting and politicking that occurred amongst the City Council members. So who wants to work with a bunch of people who fight amongst themselves, some who are self-serving in their public service. No one in their right mind will WANT that position, to go face a monumental task and most likely be attacked from all sides.

However, a certain type of person looking at the prestige, the power and the respect that seems to follow a mayor, even the mayor of a 10,000 person town, might chose to pursue such a task. People looking for power for power’s sake tend to abuse power and use it for their own advantage. Power also has the tendency to corrupt even the most innocent of people.

So what kind of person will use power the best and least like to be corrupt by it. Those who do not seek power and understand that by the process of seeking power they will be corrupted by it’s influence.

In short, the person most seeking power as mayor, is the person likely to be least wanted in the position. The person least seeking power, is the person likely to be most wanted in the position.

One can see the same thing with our favorite TSA agents.

The person wanting to perform enhanced pat down procedures on other human beings, is the person we least want to actually perform those procedures. On the other hand, the person least wanting to perform enhanced pat down procedures on other human beings, is the person we most want to actually perform those procedures.




Theology Thursday: Evolutionary Psychology vs Christianity

I love Evolutionary Psychology. Not many people, let alone Christians, would freely admit that statement. My love for such craziness though is not because I think Evolutionary Psychology is actually true. Evolutionary Psychology reminds me that even heretics get something right.

Evolutionary Psychology is defined as the approach to understand memory, perception and language as a product of evolutionary theory.

My first real grasp about evolution and psychology was a discussion about bonobo monkeys, chimpanzees and apes sexual practices.

The issue that I find over and over again is that according to Evolutionary theory there is an internal evolutionary reason for all the various “sins” we commit. Whether it’s the reasons why men are unfaithful, why we chose our partners, our honesty or lack there of. Evolutionary Psychology has some reason from our past that helps us understand why we do what we do.

The funny thing about Christianity, is there is the fundamental idea that man has a sin nature. Why do people lie? Sin. Why do men have affairs? Sin. Why do people perform heinous acts against each other? Sin. The Christian belief about a sin nature, doesn’t say that men always sin or that men are evil to the core. The doctrine of the sin nature says that men has a propensity evil and cannot change that.

Evolutionary Psychology diverts the moral dilemmas regarding man’s propensity to evil. Evolutionary Psychologists don’t just accept that men are evil, but seeks to explain the evils of society. This runs contrary to the views that all men are good by nature and if put in the right circumstances will always chose good.

First Post

Well, for most of you, you never saw the old blog. That’s probably for the better. There were some of David’s classic stories about things he has gotten his friends into. Many of them were less than serious, but still a worthwhile read. Perhaps in time, they will resurrect. There was the occasional, but never read, post on theology, philosophy or apologetics. I thought there were some good ones, but my lack of readership says otherwise. Of course, this new culmination of this blog, the rebuilding and rising of the Phoenix, will emphasize philosophy in a way the previous one did not. In order to keep up on posts and not feel overwhelm in the busyness of work, family and life, others have taken up arms in our cause. Trevor Adams a philosophy student at Boise State University wanted to blog together for some, logical to him and possibly unfathomable, reason. Of course, probably this will mean that I’m more consistent in writing, because someone will read my posts, and neither of us have to write more than we need to. (The muse often visits at the most in opportune times and when she does writing must commence.)

As we embark on a new adventure and hopefully discover some brilliant insight into the fabric of reality. We ask that you would learn, listen and think. Oh and don’t be afraid to challenge us for anything we write. So far in my professional life, I’ve been challenged regularly and there’s nothing you can say that will hurt my feelings.