Archive for December, 2018

Capitalistic Values

December 22, 2018

Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

― Ebenezer Scrooge (post ghosts) in “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens

I’ve been thinking about the fourfold shown above off and on for the past two years because the US federal government (consisting of the 115th Congress and the 45th President) are by majority members of the conservative “grand old” party. This government hasn’t done much except cater to the wealthy and powerful, undo environmental protections, estrange our world allies, and destroy our institutions.

Since socialism in any form is anathema to this administration, capitalism is king, and not capitalism with a conscious either. So I present to you four causes as means or four values as ends of capitalism. These values are principles that only a Scrooge could love!

For the efficient cause (left quadrant), instead of intentional actions I have chosen the value of Money. Finances, wealth, and currency are other synonyms. Money grants the bearer supreme choice in what they can obtain or choose to do. Laws try to restrict the choices that money can be used for or the circumstances where it can be used.

For the material cause (bottom quadrant), instead of substantive parts I have chosen the value of Property. Ownership and capital are related concepts. You really can’t use something to make something else unless you own it, so owning as much as possible is paramount!

For the final cause (right quadrant), instead of normative performance or function I have chosen the value of Power. Influence, capability, potential, authority, capacity are all related. To find out if power is an end in itself, ask the capitalist!

For the formal cause (upper quadrant), instead of necessary structure I have chosen the value of Mastery. Information, understanding, knowledge, or purview are options, but not as nicely nuanced as mastery. Power is nice but without mastery it’s aimless. Mastery is great but without power it’s useless.

As more and more wealth is acquired by fewer and fewer individuals, it may be time to rethink what our actions as a nation have given us on these last dark days of 2018. But a nice incremental change is coming next year and it is none too soon. Put that in your Christmas pipe and “smock” it!

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebenezer_Scrooge

Some might think that since I promote a fundamental physicalism (informed by fourfolds) that I endorse economic materialism or even a predatory capitalism “red in tooth and claw”. Physicalism is a metaphysical stance towards the natural world whereas economic materialism is usually thought to be one of the bad aspects of consumer culture.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_materialism

A tip of the hat to Richard Neil Abbott for the Scrooge quote! Please check out his blog at

http://www.unchangingchange.com

[*9.192]

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Conscious Capitalism

December 20, 2018

Conscious Capitalism is a philosophy of business and also a corporation that tries to promote better social practices than ordinary (predatory) capitalism. Or perhaps it is mainly intended to make you (either as consumer or producer) think that capitalism can be kinder and gentler.

Conscious Capitalism consists of four principles:

  • Conscious Leadership
  • Higher Purpose
  • Conscious Culture
  • Stakeholder integration

John Mackey one of the authors for a book about Conscious Capitalism, and is well-known as being a co-founder of Whole Foods, the grocery store chain that Amazon bought in 2017. Mackey has been in the news over the years as being against the Affordable Care Act, anti-union, and even skeptical about human-caused climate change. I’m not sure how he stands on these issues now.

From the Conscious Capitalist Credo on their web site:

“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.”

So it is basically capitalism with a conscious. Don’t get me wrong, if their corporation can make a difference in the way that capitalism is usually practiced then I’m all for it. But it is likely too little, too late.

Further Reading:

https://www.consciouscapitalism.org/

John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia / Conscious Capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit of business (2013)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mackey_(businessman)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Foods_Market

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscious_business

[*11.19]

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Flow

December 17, 2018

Speaking of flow, I see that the psychological concept of flow is based around a distinction of low-to-high challenge vs. low-to-high skill. When both challenge and skill are high, an efficient mental state can be engaged. From Wikipedia:

“In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.”

  • Flow: high challenge and high skill
  • Control: medium challenge and high skill
  • Relaxation: low challenge and high skill
  • Boredom: low challenge and medium skill
  • Apathy: low challenge and low skill
  • Worry: medium challenge and low skill
  • Anxiety: high challenge and low skill
  • Arousal: high challenge and medium skill

Missing is medium challenge and medium skill. I wonder what that is?

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi / Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

[*11.22]

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