From May 23-25, I’ll be participating in a colloquium on “Virtues and Entrepreneurship,” organized by Sweden’s Ratio Institute. My talk will be an extension of the theme of my “What Business Ethics Can Learn from Entrepreneurship,” arguing that the success traits of entrepreneurship map onto an updated Aristotelian virtue set. The conference will include keynote speeches by Deirdre McCloskey, author of The Bourgeois Virtues, and Saras Sarasvathy, author of Effectual Entrepreneurship.
According to Shostakovich:
“Rimsky-Korsakov used to say that he refused to acknowledge any complaints from composers about their hard lot in life. He explained his position thus: Talk to a bookkeeper and he’ll start complaining about life and his work. Work has ruined him, it’s so dull and boring. You see, the bookkeeper had planned to be a writer but life made him a bookkeeper. Rimsky-Korsakov said that it was rather different with composers. None of them can say that he had planned to be a bookkeeper and that life forced him to become a composer.”
[Source: Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, as related to and edited by Solomon Volkov. Translated by Antonina W. Bouis. New York: Harper and Row, 1979, p. 65.]
Posted 2 days, 13 hours ago at 9:26 am. 1 comment
This is the fifth chapter of the audiobook version of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault.
Marx and waiting for Godot [mp3] [YouTube]
Three failed predictions [mp3] [YouTube]
Socialism needs an aristocracy: Lenin, Mao, and the lesson of the German Social Democrats [mp3] [YouTube]
Good news for socialism: depression and war [mp3] [YouTube]
Bad news: liberal capitalism rebounds [mp3] [YouTube]
Worse news: Khrushchev’s revelations and Hungary [mp3] [YouTube]
Responding to the crisis: change socialism’s ethical standard [mp3] [YouTube]
From need to equality [mp3] [YouTube]
From Wealth is good to Wealth is bad [mp3] [YouTube]
Responding to the crisis: change socialism’s epistemology [mp3] [YouTube]
Marcuse and the Frankfurt School: Marx plus Freud, or oppression plus repression [mp3] [YouTube]
The rise and fall of Left terrorism [mp3] [YouTube]
From the collapse of the New Left to postmodernism [mp3] [YouTube]
Chapter One: What Postmodernism Is [mp3] [YouTube] [38 minutes]
Chapter Two: The Counter-Enlightenment Attack on Reason [mp3] [YouTube] [72 minutes]
Chapter Three: The Twentieth-Century Collapse of Reason [mp3] [YouTube] [50 minutes]
Chapter Four: The Climate of Collectivism [mp3] [YouTube] [102 minutes]
Chapter Six: Postmodern Strategy [mp3] [YouTube]
The Explaining Postmodernism page.
Posted 3 days, 12 hours ago at 9:31 am. 1 comment
My video lecture on the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial “Fairness Doctrine,” part of the Business Ethics Cases series.
1. The early days of radio and a tragedy of the commons.
2. What is fairness? Two competing answers.
3. The argument for the “Fairness Doctrine.”
4. The argument against the “Fairness Doctrine.”
5. Related issues: whether politics is special, whether the medium matters, scarcity, unintended consequences, and abuses of power.
The entire video (70 minutes total):
Posted 6 days, 14 hours ago at 7:36 am. Add a comment
I am reading Wendy Steiner’s Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in 20th-Century Art. Steiner, a professor of literature at Penn, argues that “In modernism, the perennial rewards of aesthetic experience — pleasure, insight, empathy — were largely withheld, and its generous aim, beauty, was abandoned” (p. xv).
Steiner notes that “the main symbol of such beauty, the female subject,” especially was abandoned in the twentieth century. “The avant-garde were utterly hostile toward the ‘feminine aesthetics’ of charm, sentiment, and melodramatic excess, which they associated with female and bourgeois philistinism” (pp. xxiv-xxv). (See also: Were the Modernist painters misogynist?)
All of which raises the question: Why? Steiner’s first statement of her thesis is that the experience of beauty is a profoundly relational experience. In philosopher-talk, it is neither purely an intrinsic feature of the object nor a purely subjective state. We are moved by the object, and “in our gratitude toward what moves us so, we attribute to it the property of beauty, but what we are actually experiencing is a special relation between it and ourselves” (p. xxiii).
Beauty is a connection between the self and the Other, but it also generates an elevating action component: “finding something or someone beautiful entails becoming worthy of it — in effect, becoming beautiful, too — and recognizing oneself as such” (xxiii). One is thus energized and challenged by the beautiful Other and “rises to recognize oneself in it” (p. xxiv).
Steiner’s account seems to imply that the full experience of beauty requires that one be a certain kind of person — capable of being so moved, of thinking oneself worthy and beautiful, of being energized to elevating challenges. That in turn seems to imply a profoundly different aesthetic for a profoundly different kind of person. What if, for example, one’s deepest sense of being is of estrangement, self-doubt, of an unbridgeable gulf between oneself and others, of alienation from reality?
The previous paragraph is my interpolation, but I was struck by the next step Steiner’s analysis, introducing “the Kantian sublime, which was the aesthetic model for high modernism” (xxiv).
In the Kantian sublime, Steiner points out, there is a supreme disconnect between the self and the Other. It is “specifically the non-recognition of the self in the Other, for the Other is inhuman, chaotic, annihilating.” The self realizes “the immensity of this gap” and is left “unfastened, unconnected to the object of its awe” (p. xxiv). There is no mutuality and no connection possible, so no action is worthwhile. One can only persist in the more sublime-relevant emotions of fear or awe or passive submissiveness. The Kantian sublime is an aesthetic of profound alienation.
And thus some groundwork is laid for Modernism’s “violent break” from the rest of art history.
Steiner, Wendy. 2001. Beauty in Exile, The Rejection of Beauty in 20th-Century Art. The Free Press.
Posted 1 week ago at 7:02 pm. Add a comment
Posted 1 week, 2 days ago at 3:59 pm. Add a comment
My video lecture on the experimental cancer drug Laetrile, part of the Business Ethics Cases series.
The entire lecture (65 minutes total):
Posted 1 week, 5 days ago at 8:13 am. Add a comment
Robert Salvino (Economics, Coastal Carolina University) spoke at Rockford College on “Entrepreneurship and Public Policy.” In this follow-up interview, Salvino and I discuss entrepreneurial success traits, the institutional framework within which entrepreneurship best flourishes, the relative success of market-friendly versus government-chosen entrepreneurship policies (including examples such as Google, Apple, Solyndra, etc), the effect of employer-provided healthcare on self-employment rates, Salvino’s suggested general entrepreneurship-friendly public policies, and China’s success in lifting 600 million people out of poverty over the last generation.
The talk was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship.