Philosophy and Quality!

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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#2
I recognize a number of points that were covered in my Organizational Leadership Masters program.

However, we must contend with the still-durable fact that the financial markets place a good deal of pressure on organizations' decisions and strategic imperatives. Among my clients I have noticed that those who "went private" now feel free enough to pursue objectives based on their philosophy and not the shareholder pressure.

For that reason I think that Matthew Stewart may be correct, but largely unappreciated. While financial market pressures prevail, philosophy takes a second place to financials which we sometimes call "bean counting."
 
P

perim

#3
Interesting. I did my masters in philosophy, and ended up in QA.

To quote an Oxford philosophy course ad: "The study of Philosophy develops analytical, critical and logical rigour, and the ability to think through the consequences of novel ideas and speculations. It opens and stretches the mind by considering a wide range of thought and thinkers, on subjects as fundamental as the limits of knowledge, the nature of reality and our place in it, and the basis of morality."

There are many ways that such expertise could be beneficial in business.

However, I suspect that the article above confuses cause and effect a bit (confusing cause and effect is something you learn a lot about in philosophy). It is probably at least as much the case that smart people study philosophy, because it is so genuinely interesting to them, as that people become smarter by studying it.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
The article is very poorly written, which could be due to the writer not being a native English speaker. Witness this paragraph:

The rising demand for both creative and concrete problem-solving as well as abstract and strategic thinking indicates the necessity to broaden the reflectivity-horizon of the narrow business perspective that future business leaders will determine their decisions within. Business tends to seek one rationalised conclusion at the expense of others. This closes opportunities, rather than opens them. Philosophy, on the other hand, can through critical reasoning continually question and rethink the assumed certainties and its basic premises. In this sense, business and philosophy might seem poles apart at first glance and their interdisciplinary potential has for long been largely unrecognized on traditional business schools, but this is about to change.
My guess is that it could have been whittled down to a few sentences, and I think what the author was trying to say is that philosophy majors are more likely to question basic assumptions than those who engage a "narrow business perspective."

As for the actual substance of the author's premise, I think there's a false dichotomy at work. The comparison is made between what some feel is a shoot-from-the-hip type of management style where opportunities might be missed as a result of failure of critical thinking, and the person who does critically analyze all of the variables before making a decision. In point of fact, the ideal is somewhere between those two extremes. A manager needs to be able to rationally analyze situations and possibilities while still knowing the right time to pull the trigger. This is a skill set that can't be taught, by and large, and comes mostly with experience and learning ability.

I tend to agree with perim's observation regarding cause and effect. People who are talented in observational analysis--problem solving and logical thinking--are more likely to want to study philosophy, rather than the study of philosophy turning people into good critical thinkers.

I've thought for a long time that we spend too much time teaching people (especially children) what to think instead of teaching how to think. Education in critical thinking seems to be lacking at all levels of eductation, for that reason perhaps integration of philosophy into business curricula might be a good idea. In the end, though, not all of the horses led to water will drink.
 

TPMB4

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
Other disciplines have elements of how to think within them. I know a few sociologists and if you speak to them about any topic you will probably get a different insight. I guess that is down to various philosophy modules or courses they do which have a similar approach. They are also very good in an argument, I mean discussion. I don't think philosophy is as important as others might think.

Quote "People who are talented in observational analysis--problem solving and logical thinking--are more likely to want to study philosophy."

Why is that? Surely people are more likely to want to study something that interests them. Are those people who are talented in such types of analysis predisposed to being interested in philosophy? Does this same predisposition apply to medicine, engineering or drama for example?

I went to school with this guy who would fit snugly into the philosophical type based on his abilities at school. He left at 16 and went into a circus. Last time I saw him was on a gorgeously sunny day out of the window of a dull school classroom. He was entertaining us all by juggling while riding a unicycle wearing eccentrically coloured clothing!! One of the brightest and deepest thinkers I have met too.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
Other disciplines have elements of how to think within them. I know a few sociologists and if you speak to them about any topic you will probably get a different insight. I guess that is down to various philosophy modules or courses they do which have a similar approach. They are also very good in an argument, I mean discussion. I don't think philosophy is as important as others might think.

Quote "People who are talented in observational analysis--problem solving and logical thinking--are more likely to want to study philosophy."

Why is that? Surely people are more likely to want to study something that interests them. Are those people who are talented in such types of analysis predisposed to being interested in philosophy? Does this same predisposition apply to medicine, engineering or drama for example?

I went to school with this guy who would fit snugly into the philosophical type based on his abilities at school. He left at 16 and went into a circus. Last time I saw him was on a gorgeously sunny day out of the window of a dull school classroom. He was entertaining us all by juggling while riding a unicycle wearing eccentrically coloured clothing!! One of the brightest and deepest thinkers I have met too.
All generalizations fall short in some regard. My point was not that all (or even most) people who are good analytical thinkers are drawn to philosophy, but that that proportion of the population that is drawn to philosophy is made up of good analytical thinkers for the most part. Engineering and science draw a greater share of those with a logical bent, I would guess.
 
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