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P H I L O S O P H Y F O R B U S I N E S S ISSN 2043-0736
Issue number 23
25th October 2005
I. 'The Logic and Psychology of Panic Situations' by Geoffrey Klempner
II. 'Post-Industrial Humanism: Transformative Humanization of Nature (or
'Naturization' of Humanity) Toward a Moral Technology' by Ruel F Pepa
III. 'The Significance of Money' by Michael Levy
Arguably one of the most pervasive phenomena of business life is the panic
situation. While we like to be prepared for any eventuality, the point about
the panic situation is that it catches us unprepared. This is something that
can happen to leaders and heroes as well as us ordinary folk. Here, I have
looked at the logic and psychology of panic situations. I have no doubt that
they have an ethics and politics too.
Ruel Pepa's essay on post-industrial humanism is inspired by Alvin Toffler's
The Third Wave. One of the most exciting areas for futurologists is what
happens 'after' Capitalism -- as we know it now. Is there a way in which the
huge problems that industrialization has created, for example, the threat to
the ecosystem can be solved using the methods and knowledge available to us, or
are we doomed to social and ecological catastrophe?
Michael Levy made his fortune as an entrepreneur then retired to Florida -- as
we all secretly wish we could do. His writings belong to an entirely different
genre to academic philosophy, but contain much wisdom and common sense. His
theme is the song from Cabaret, 'Money makes the world go round.'
I. 'THE LOGIC AND PSYCHOLOGY OF PANIC SITUATIONS' BY GEOFFREY KLEMPNER
- You have an interview date with a potential client and have been waiting for
your interview partner in a conference room for more than fifty minutes. His
secretary apologizes for the delay and offers you coffee. How do you react?
Will you leave? Are you prepared to wait longer?
- One morning you find that you have to deal with many things in parallel: A
proposal to improve the working climate for your boss which you promised to
deliver at the end of the day (you know it will take you at least four hours to
finish off). In the morning you have to go to the project team meeting to get an
overview about the latest developments of the past week. Further, you promised
to join a two hours meeting at the HR department in the afternoon to discuss an
education plan for the staff. The project leader called you and asked urgently
for a private meeting with you (tomorrow he will be travelling again). In your
e-mail inbox you find about thirty unopened and unanswered e-mails. It is
obvious that you are not able manage all those tasks within this day. What will
- On your company networked laptop you have printers installed for all
locations that you work at. You are printing a personal email. After clicking
the print button, you realize to your dismay that you have used the printer at
head office instead of your local printer. Everything that you said about your
boss and his boss in a weak moment of desire for revenge is in this e-mail.
What can you do to save the situation?
It is axiomatic that things sometimes go wrong, in business as in life. We
spend much of our time thinking of ways and means of preventing things from
going wrong. But sometimes business situations go pear shaped despite our most
stringent efforts of exercising control.
All three situations I have described here might have been avoided. After
twenty minutes, you should have said to the secretary, 'I'm sorry but I have a
very busy schedule today, and I am only able to wait another ten minutes. If
your boss can't make it this time please ask him to ring me to make another
appointment.' With so many things going on, you should not have made such a
rash promise to your boss. The mix-up with the printers could have been avoided
by establishing a routine of double checking before sending out a print job.
But that is besides the point. However many panic situations we avoid, there
will always be others to catch us off guard. Even if you plan your actions with
perfect precision, taking account of every conceivable eventuality, you cannot
be sure that one of your most reliable staff or colleagues won't unexpectedly
let you down.
The everyday examples I have given are all personal, in that you are the only
one under threat. But we could equally have looked at panic situations faced by
teams, all of whose heads will roll if the project is not successfully
completed, or companies fighting to survive in the marketplace.
For the purposes of this article, I am defining a 'panic situation' as things
going wrong in an unforeseen way which requires an immediate response. Whether
their going wrong was foreseeable may be a moot point, which becomes
relevant if you are looking round for someone to blame. But when the panic
bells ring, there is no time for blame.
A panic situation, so described, is different from a 'crisis' as such. While
both panic situations and crises demand immediate action, the possibility of
the crisis -- a cash flow crisis, for example, or a crisis point in
negotiations -- was always on the cards, and so can always be planned for to
some extent. You keep a source of funding in reserve in case the money runs
low. Or you hold one or two pieces of ammunition back rather than shooting all
your guns off at the start. Crises are part of normal business life. We also
understand, and accept philosophically, that sometimes the cash does run out,
sometimes negotiations do break down when we have nothing more to put on the
By contrast, what characterizes a panic situation is that it catches us
unprepared. There are no techniques or practiced routines. We have to think on
the hoof. As a philosopher, I am interested in this phenomenon as part of the
natural history of the business world. I will argue that there is a
logic of panic situations, as well as a psychology.
We talk of 'acting out of panic' by contrast with thinking things through.
However, this very contrast often presupposes the vantage point of hindsight.
The example of a building on fire is the classic case of perfectly logical,
reasonable actions appearing to an onlooker as unthinking panic. You run past
the nearest staircase because you can see smoke coming from under the fire exit
door, not realizing that it was in fact was your best chance of escape. Then you
find that the second fire exit is blocked, so you run back only to discover that
the first staircase is now full of smoke. So you run to the third fire exit,
which looks safe enough until you get down to the next landing -- and so on.
One of the hardest things to accept in any situation which requires a decision
is when there is no good outcome. Sometimes, logically, all one can reasonably
hope for is the least worst result. When you have little or no time to
think, it becomes that much harder to accept the least worst option. So you
hang on while the precious minutes or hours tick away, until the time and your
choices run out. Or you tell yourself, 'Better be hanged for a sheep as for a
lamb!' and choose the worst alternative instead of the least worst. Too late,
you discover that the difference between the two was the difference between
going down and surviving to fight another day.
We are taught that good decision making is a matter of thinking through
consequences. Some times, a plan of action looks good until you reach the small
print. So you can't afford to leave any stone unturned. But all that wisdom is
turned upside down in a panic situation. When there is no time to think things
through to the end you have to rely on your judgement, you have to average it,
play your best hunch. Or you may have to bluff your way through. The very
qualities which are regarded as suspect in normal business practice become the
key to survival in a panic situation.
One of the most profound facts about human beings is that we are subject to
moods. To take the most simple, stark alternatives, everyone has at some time
felt depressed or elated. What is most remarkable about moods is the way they
colour the world. As Wittgenstein remarked, 'The world of the happy man is
different from that of the unhappy man.' That is why the mental stress or
anguish occasioned by a panic situation is not comparable, say, to physical
pain. Admittedly, it is not so easy making decisions when you have a bad
headache or a toothache. But at the end of the day physical pain is just that,
and nothing more. Whereas the psychological aspect of panic, the mood that it
brings on distorts the very way we see the world.
While we admire those who appear ice cool under pressure, it does not
necessarily follow that the one who makes the least overt fuss is most likely
to make the right decisions. It is just as likely that person holding things
tightly together with has in the process allowed his or her view of the
situation to become completely distorted. For example, the business competitor
who has caught you napping becomes in your cracked vision the very
personification of Satan, to be destroyed at any price -- including your own
In other words, don't be shy of using a few expletives if that works for you.
It is not about making a fuss or not making a fuss but keeping hold of a
balanced view of things, in the face of the strong psychological pressure to do
otherwise. It may be necessary to remind yourself of very obvious facts. Run a
simple checklist, or score different aspects of the situation on a scale from 1
to 5. All these props can help to restore a sense of balance even when your head
A final thought. It is an accepted cliche of the business world that every
threat is an opportunity. The psychological meltdown induced by a panic
situation is one of the few times that you have to creatively challenge your
fundamental assumptions. Don't let the opportunity pass you by.
(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2005
II. 'POST-INDUSTRIAL HUMANISM: TRANSFORMATIVE HUMANIZATION OF NATURE (OR
'NATURIZATION' OF HUMANITY) TOWARD A MORAL TECHNOLOGY' BY RUEL F PEPA
Technology as transforming and transformative is human interpretation and
pragmatization. It is an appropriation of the scientific for human purposes.
The act of appropriation, by the way, is one of interpretation and
pragmatization that responds to a human responsibility. Hence, technology
ideally carries the value of responsibility. And responsibility in this sense
is measured in human terms. On such basis, the morality of technology is
reflected on how technology humanizes, empowers, and elevates the human being.
Moral technology should, in that sense, be a transforming/ transformative
instrument to: (1) alleviate sufferings; (2) resolve conflicts; and (3) promote
The Rise of Modern Science and Technology
The modern era in world history is characterized by the widespread dominance of
science and technology at the expense of the ecosystem. Such dominance is a
narrow and shallow signification of human service and facility -- a
shortsighted attempt to satisfy human needs and wants without considering the
tragic consequences of devastating the natural resources.
The destruction of the ecosystem has been perpetrated by the immoral technology
of the modern world. 'Worldwide in scope and profligate in its ill effects,
deforestation stands as a symbol of the environmental degradation that so
concerns us. Many other stresses vie for our attention: depletion of the ozone
layer, with its threat of harmful ultraviolet radiation; loss of reefs and
wetlands, so rich in their variety of life-forms; contamination of the air with
emissions and the waters with pollutants; and all aggravated by the pressures of
a global population rising by a million every four days' (Canby, 1994).
Such losses and destruction in the modern/ industrial era are the major
concerns being addressed now by the morality of the post-industrial era. The
Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess provides us with certain normative principles
that characterize a type of humanism that humanizes nature and 'naturizes'
humanity, if you will:
(1) 'The flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth has intrinsic value.
The value of non-human life forms is independent of the usefulness these may
have for narrow human purposes.
(2) 'Richness and diversity of life forms are values in themselves and
contribute to the flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth.
(3) 'Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to
satisfy vital needs.' (Anker, 1998)
The Weltanschauung of the Industrial Era
At this point, we should deem it necessary that a better understanding of the
worldview of the post-industrial era can be effectively laid out if viewed in
contrast with the kind of worldview that has empowered the events and
personalities of the industrial era.
The celebrated futuristic theorist of the '70s and '80s, Alvin Toffler
enumerated three key concepts that animated the industrial era: the war with
nature, the importance of evolution, and the progress principle. Regarding the
war with nature, Toffler says in the The Third Wave (1990): 'The idea that
nature was there to be exploited provided a convenient rationalization for
shortsightedness and selfishness: There has been so much destruction in nature,
so much brutality towards the earth's ecosystem, because of this worldview. And
this worldview has created a sense of arrogance in man who has developed the
notion that he is the principle of a long process of evolution' (Toffler,
With the first two key concepts of the industrial era, the third key concept
which is the progress principle is now well entrenched. It is 'the idea that
history flows irreversibly toward a better life for humanity' (Toffler, ibid.).
Adam Smith in his The Wealth of Nations and Karl Marx in his Das
Kapital had their own respective theories of human progress.
In the industrial framework, time is linear and space is concentrated to
satisfy the demands of the progress principle. The very idea of progress
entails the linearity of time. And since industrialization is the highest stage
of progressive evolution, its centers being the urban cities are the most
important space concentrations.
On the metaphysical question of 'What are things made of from the perspective
of the industrial era?', reality is looked upon not as a fused or integrated
entity but as a structure built upon a multiplicity of components. This is
known as the atomic view of reality and this is the foundation of the principle
of individualism. As the old agricultural civilization decayed, as trade
expanded and towns multiplied in the century or two before the dawn of
industrialism, the rising merchant classes, demanding the freedom to trade and
lend and expand their markets, gave rise to a new conception of the individual
-- the person as atom.
The Weltanschauung of the Post-Industrial Era
In the post-industrial era or the third wave civilization (as this is called by
Toffler), humanity is reconciled with nature. 'There is no such thing as either
man [i.e., human] or nature now, only a process that produces the
one within the other and couples the machine together' (Deleuze and Guattari,
1977). And the war is against those who have declared war against nature in the
industrial era. Now is the age of 'ecosophy' or 'eco-philosophy' whose leading
proponent is the Norwegian thinker Arne Naess. 'During the last thirty years
philosophers in the West have critiqued the underlying assumptions of modern
philosophy in relation to the natural world. This development has been part of
an ongoing expansion of philosophical work involving cross-cultural studies of
worldviews or ultimate philosophies. Since philosophical studies in the West
have often ignored the natural world, and since most studies in ethics have
focused on human values, those approaches which emphasize ecocentric values
have been referred to as eco-philosophy. Just as the aim of traditional
philosophy is Sophia or wisdom, so the aim of eco-philosophy is ecosophy or
ecological wisdom. The practice of eco-philosophy is an ongoing, comprehensive,
deep inquiry into values, the nature of the world, and the self' (Drengson,
In the post-industrial era, the seemingly omnipotent notion of uninterrupted
linear evolution has already lost its momentum. There has been a wholesale
breakdown in the most basic key concepts of the industrial era's worldview
which gives the final death blow to the progress principle that animates the
entire infrastructure of the industrial era.
Finally, the paradigm shift has been felt as the concepts of time and space
change and as the atomic model of reality is displaced by the holistic model.
The direction now of post-industrial technology aimed to humanize nature and
'naturize' humanity is one of synthesis: the non-subversion of the ecosystem
whereof humanity is subsumed to be a part. Human progress is therefore
construed in the post-industrial sense as a bi-condition of ecosystem
protection and defense. In this condition, there is no viable way to come up
with a real workable human development program in isolation of certain
considerations affecting the ecological network. Deleuze and Guattari say:
[We] make no distinction between man and nature: the human
essence of nature and the natural essence of man become one
within nature in the form of production or industry, just as
they do within the life of man as a species. Industry is
then no longer considered from the extrinsic point of view
of utility, but rather from the point of view of its
fundamental identity with nature as production of man and
by man. Not man as the king of creation, but rather as the
being who is in intimate contact with the profound life of
all forms or all types of beings, who is responsible for
even the stars and animal life, and who ceaselessly plugs
an organ-machine into an energy-machine, a tree into his
body, abreast into his mouth, the sun into his asshole: the
eternal custodian of the machines of the universe (Deleuze
and Guattari, 1977).
Further human development that is proper or morally defensible is possible only
if there should be immediate and concerted conservation and/ or preservation
measures instituted for the world's remaining natural resource base, if there
is to be continuing but sustainable use of it by mankind. Such continuing human
development should be with the end in view of more equitable sharing and
benefits distribution. A simple enough prescription, but one that is quite a
tall order to do from any perspective -- historical, political, economic,
social, etc. -- even under the best of circumstances. And, truth to tell, the
actual condition of the world today is anything but the best of
Therefore, 'moral technology' -- if indeed there is such a thing existing or
even forthcoming anytime soon -- sure has its work cut out for it. But whether
or not technology is or becomes moral and thus transforming or transformative,
still it is just an instrument to alleviate sufferings, resolve conflicts, and
promote happiness. Ultimately, it is still man himself who determines the fate
of his environment and the destiny of his own species. The synthesis that fully
integrates human development with earth's ecological network glimmers in the
Anker, Peder. 1998. 'Ecosophy: An Outline of Its Metaethics.'
Canby, Thomas y. 1994. Our Changing Earth. Washington D.C.: National
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 1977. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and
Schizophrenia. New York: Viking Penguin.
Drengson, Alan. 1999. 'Ecophilosophy, Ecosophy and the Deep Ecology Movement:
An Overview.' http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca
Toffler, Alvin. 1990. The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Books.
(c) Ruel F. Pepa 2005
III. 'THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MONEY' BY MICHAEL LEVY
Is Money a Curse or a Blessing?
I doubt if there is anyone who would dispute the fact that money is the most
important commodity in any person's life. It is right up there with gravity,
light and water as necessities for survival and comfort in a modern day life on
earth. Of course, happiness and health are more valuable when it comes to true
meaning of life but they are not commodities. Money is a commodity and it has
control on most aspects of a human existence both for good and evil. It has
stood the test of time and is still thriving in the oldest profession in the
world. The dichotomy with money is people who horde it have no real use for it
and people who don't have any get into debt by borrowing and being the biggest
Money builds friendships, creates hatred, arranges marriage and orchestrates
divorce. Lucky people gain money thanks to inheritances, while the luckless
gamble it away. It is the life-blood of every business and when it becomes
scarce, business evaporate from the face of the earth. Lack of it brings down
dynasties and defeats superpowers. When used for progress, money can eradicate
poverty and fund research to find cures from deadly diseases. It is said, to
receive money for good use is a blessing -- to give it is divine.
There are many contradictions in the bible. One saying is, Money is the root of
all evil. However another says, Wine maketh merry but money answereth all
things. Therefore, in religious terms it can be regarded as a gift from God or
a servant of the devil. Over the years many varying quotes by successful people
have sung the virtues and dammed the curse of money. Hypocrisy is one of the
main characteristics of money's influence and a few examples that spring to
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
There are no pockets in a shroud.
There are few sorrows, however poignant, in which a good
income is of no avail.
-Logan Pearsall Smith
Money is better than poverty, if only for financial
When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same
Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy you the kind of
misery you prefer.
It frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike
doing nearly everything, money is handy.
They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold;
and I deem them mad because they think my days have a
When I was young I thought that money was the most
important thing in life; now that I am old I know that
Money materializes itself in every aspect of human existence both tangible and
non-tangible. It can buy power, fame, lifestyle, sex, independence, shelter,
food, consumables, luxury, employment, liberty, security and many other
requirements of modern-day living. In itself, money is neither good nor bad,
but how it is applied to each aspect associated with life on earth can and does
alter the course of history.
Money can elevate humanities enjoyment by the buying of time and space to
invent new ways to manifest the bounties of the creative mind in art, music,
writing, hi-tech and communications. Alternatively, it can be used by ideals
formulated by inept doctrines, that destroy and dismantle societies natural way
of life. Both systems use money to their own ends and the effects of money so
far seems to be more loaded on the side of merit and goodness, although many
people may disagree if they read the headlines of the newspapers in recent
years. Nevertheless, good deeds are seldom reported and most people are
charitable and help others as best they can.
Depending on which side of the rich/ poor, political/ revolutionary fence you
are positioned, will be your individual take on money's value to society. It
will influence your opinion in reference to it being used for good or evil.
There is nowhere more distinctively pronounced in the effects of money than the
buying of power in the leadership of a group or country.
In a recent meetings of world leaders in the U K, 50 billion dollars was
pledged to aid Africa so that poverty and disease can be eradicated. At the
same time this was going on terrorists killed and injured many people by
exploding four bombs in crowded areas of London. Both actions took money to
perform and had a leadership financed by money.
It needed a large amount of money to setup the G8 meeting of world leaders and
it also needed money for the terrorists to plan end execute their evil deeds.
The money given by the richest countries will be paid by the people of those
countries through taxation, not by the leaders. Likewise, the money to repair
the damage caused by the terrorist bombs will be paid by the people of United
Kingdom. It is always the people who foot the bill for any actions of their
The largest terrorist group is Al Qaeda, which is financed in the hundreds of
millions of dollars by a few rich, dogma driven leaders. The terrorists, who
are in the minority believe they are doing good with their money by killing the
infidels who do not live by their holy book standards. Their victims who are the
majority of people on earth believe the opposite is true. It is the terrorists
who are against everything good and decent. Money is the tool they both use to
attack and defend each others crusades, standards and beliefs.
Foremost, before any actions or plans can proceed, money is required to form
the groups and elect a leader. In a democracy elections are held, but the
amount of money spent by each party grows in leaps and bounds and can
foreshadow the outcome. The party with the deepest pockets has more chance of
being elected by paying for all the modern technology, communications and PR
services available to get their message across to the public.
In countries with dictatorships, the leader needs money to finance his army of
henchman to back his doctrine. It seems that in democracies and in
dictatorships poor people always suffer at the expense of rich peoples greed
and it is they who continue to pay for their leaders upkeep, like it or not.
The cruelty and deaths in a dictatorship may be more pronounced than that of a
democracy, however, in a democracy people have more money to kill themselves by
too much of a good thing such as the gluttony of overeating and obesity.
In a rich democracy, many people are dying from too much money that encourages
their disease to develop from over indulging in an erroneous lifestyle. Is that
any more decimating than thousands of people being blown up in terrorist
explosions? One ends in a quick devastating, wasteful deaths and the other ends
in a slow devastating, wasteful deaths. Both occur as a result of misspent
money. In regard to the premature demise of the loved ones, which one is more
hurtful and a bigger loss to their families?
Financially speaking, are people who are in a place of power and feed their
greed by cheating millions of people out of their life savings any more evil
than dictators who keep poor people oppressed by brute force?
From a monetary perspective, are company executives with gigantic payout's in
the millions of dollars, whilst millions cannot afford health insurance, any
more ravenous than tyrants that keep their subjects in poverty and do not allow
women equal rights?
Yet again, from a monetary viewpoint, are politicians in a democracy, who are
paid by the public to protect the public, but prefer to put corporate financial
agenda first before the consequences of pollution and health care, any more
deceitful than communist leaders who do not allow people to vote and keep them
Are the monetary donations given to religious organizations helping or
hindering humanities quest for truth and honesty or do they just help proclaim
doctrines that may inflict more harm than good?
Is the money that funds scientific research helpful to the progress of humanity
or is it being used for finding quicker and easier methods of detonating
explosions that dispatches all earthlings into oblivion?
It seems wherever you go, wherever you look, money is becoming more and more
significant in every person's life. Within the next few decades, third world
countries will become more affluent and people in them will have more money to
spend on things they think they require for a successful life. Earth's assets
will become more stretched and strained. As peoples buying power increases,
earths bountiful resources will diminish.
Unless world leaders start to learn how to deal from the top of the deck, not
from the bottom, authentic quality of life on earth will become poorer and
trashier, whist peoples lifestyle becomes more opulent and luxurious. Will
money become humanities savior or saboteur?
Still, no matter what, people will proceed in the pursuit to obtain large
amounts of money regardless of the consequences to their lives. They will
continue to compare their wealth to the allotment of others and idolize their
fashion fabricating stars. Some people may still find a few moments of tranquil
serenity to think about their personal meaning of life regards to money.
However, in the bright light of the midday sun, they will go out to chase after
their elusive pots of gold.
Before anyone can declare that their monetary intent is going to be used for
good or evil, they should first determine who it is in their mind that makes
their financial decisions for them. Who is it that has educated their mind
since birth and how reliable is that information? If they think they know the
answer to whom that inner-being is, then the question remains. How well has
that inner-character looked after their money, health and happiness so far and
is it giving them a significant, eloquent life?
Maybe somewhere hidden in one of the differing quotes that follow may be more
clues to the real significance of money and then again, maybe its value will
always be justified in the intent of the holder? Whatever value you put on it,
there is no question it is here to stay and your intent with monetary gain may
make all the difference in the world to future generations.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world,
and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange
for his soul?
With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are
handsome and you sing well too.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
Lack of money is the root of all evil.
-George Bernard Shaw
Money is human happiness in the abstract; and so the man
who is no longer capable of enjoying such happiness in the
concrete, sets his whole heart on money.
Money is the last enemy that shall never be subdued. While
there is flesh there is money -- or the want of money; but
money is always on the brain so long as there is a brain in
To suppose as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not
behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could
drink all day and stay sober.
-Logan Pearsall Smith
Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your
soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken
Many people lose their health and happiness trying to
accumulate money and that makes it the most expensive thing
(c) Michael Levy 2005
Web site: http://www.pointoflife.com
About the Author
The words Live Alchemy are an anagram of Michael Levy. His new book is
titled The Joys of Live Alchemy. Therefore, in print and in life,
Michael Levy is an authentic living alchemist.
Michael Levy has a page in the Philosophy Lovers Gallery at