Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action, and the Cultivation of Solidarity
MIT Press, 1999 - Business & Economics - 232 pages
"Spinosa, Flores, and Dreyfus have written a rich, ambitious book on the free enterprise system and the sort of democratic community it presupposes. "Disclosing New Worlds" also represents a new way of doing philosophy, a new way of looking at business and a new way of looking at democracy. The underlying style and spirit of the book is unabashedly Heideggerian, although it is written much more clearly and down to earth than that might suggest. Their discussion of search divers practical topics as the rise of feminism, the founding of the personal computer business and the success of Mother Against Drunk Driving is both insightful and profound, "practical" philosophy at its very best."
-- Robert C. Solomon, Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy and Business, The University of Texas at Austin "Disclosing New Worlds" calls for a recovery of a way of being that has always characterized human life at its best. The book argues that human beings are at their best not when they are engaged in abstract reflection, but when they are intensely involved in changing the taken-for-granted, everyday practices in some domain of their culture--that is, when they are making history. History-making, in this account, refers not to wars and transfers of political power, but to changes in the way we understand and deal with ourselves. The authors identify entrepreneurship, democratic action, and the creation of solidarity as the three major arenas in which people make history, and they focus on three prime methods of history-making -- reconfiguration, cross-appropriation, and articulation.
The book is filled with real-life examples of each kindof history-making. For example, the authors show how entrepreneurs like King Gillette not only change the material conditions of our lives but also effect new styles of behavior. The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides an example of how virtuous democratic citizenship can change the way in which a culture lives. And Martin Luther King Jr. exemplifies the culture figure who cultivates solidarity by recovering a foundational practice that had been forgotten over time (in King's case, the practice of Christian love).
According to the authors, there are two major perils to history-making in Western society. One is the Cartesian tradition, which celebrates stepping back from everyday life to understand the world on the basis of rational deliberation. Against this, the authors advocate an intense involvement in the anomalies of everyday life as a means to understand the world and the changes it needs. The second is the neo-Nietzschean tendency to embrace radical, individual change for its own sake. Now that anyone can log on to the Internet to try on a new personality, the authors argue, it becomes increasingly urgent that we retrieve our history-making skills, both in our everyday lives and in our public roles.
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This book is not for the beginner or something to take to the beach, since the English of this book is extraordinarily dense, and reading is not easy, but then the ideas they have are complicated, and it is worth the effort of re-reading.
It is packed with references (the index alone is 13 pages long) and they do not seem to have omitted attacking any philosopher, guru or business leader of any significance, which makes it at least thought provoking.
It starts by insisting it is not a theoretical textbook or handbook but a resource to develop some skills we humans already have in order to be effective entrepreneurs, virtuous citizens and cultivators of solidarity.
The ideas cross several cultural boundries: Flores, who founded Business Design Associates (BDA) in California USA is a Chilean engineer, entrepreneur and politician. He is a former cabinet minister of president Salvador Allende and was senator for the Arica and Parinacota and Tarapacá regions between 2001 and 2009. On March 31, 2010 he was designated President of Chile's National Innovation Council for Competitiveness by President Sebastián Piñera.
Spinosa was VP for Research at Design Associates in California. He is a marketeer who offers consultancy for business expansion into difficult markets by helping clients make and keep promises.
Dreyfys is professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkley, whose website lists his major interests as "phenomenology, existentialism, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of literature, and philosophical implications of artificial intelligence".
On balance, worth the effort, even if today, one can not agree with all of their 1977 conclusions!
I read and hear so much about innovation it looses meaning. What is innovation anyway? The authors say that innovation and (for lack of a better term) being the most happy are one and the same. The authors claim that life is best (we are most happy) when we are in the middle of a positive change in how we do things. Notice that it is "how" we do things, not "what" we do.
So, for example, I enjoy teaching others what I know. There is a person I regularly interact with that doesn't appreciate being "taught". By only suggesting practices that are needed at the time, I've been able to reach this person. I had to change how I worked with her. Not what I did. This was an innovation and felt great.
The authors provide the how to innovation that we are looking for. The ideas need time to cook. This is a book to read once through then think on the concepts for a year. Refer to the book to understand again what the authors are saying.
Disclosing New Worlds is foundational for devoted students of human change. It belongs on the shelf next to other great philosophers.
But practically, what innovation are you working on?
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