Vortrag gehalten in Potsdam, 2007

 

 

From Philosophy to Corporate Culture

The Transparency of Companies

 

 

 

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much that you invited me to talk to you and I acceptet your invitation with great pleasure. And I very much looked foreward to met you.

 

Over the last years I was frequently involved in the corporate world but here and today I will speak from a different point of view. My main field of activity is the resurch in the settling down of mankind and its consequences for today. In a narrower sense, I dealt with the sitting on chairs – concerning the origin of the sitting, its meaning, the effect on body and soul of the person who sits and the consequences of this strategie of our culture. It is strange that today only half of the world population sits on chairs although every year some billions of white garden chairs are produced. A sort of chair you all know quite well. The sitting on chairs in every day life is an European invention of around 1500. Nevertheless, most of those persons who belong to our culture did not have access to sit on chairs before 1860, the year when the first mass production chair started: the production of the Vienna coffee-house chair. Meanwhile three to four dozens of seats are at every modern person’s disposal today. Here in this conference hall you, Ladies and Gentlemen, are using one chair each while you could occupy many others. In the last paragraph I will return to the phenomenon of settling down that brought about our occidental culture.

 

 

The human being as philosopher and monk, as entrepreneur and artist

 

It is a sad chapter of our cultural history that society is treating food, air and water in a very bad manner. So it is reassuring to know that the representatives of the different dietetics-associations have a critical view on the production of food, because food is for mankind something essential, fundamental, that concerns us every day – that nourishes us but also can give us enjoyment. You have to deal with ethical questions concerning the quality of food and the transparency of this quality. I also will talk about ethics. But this in a general way and in connection with companies, transparency and communication.

 

Whatever the human being is doing – he is and he will be a human being. Whether he is producer or consumer, teacher or craftsman, employee or entrepreneur. That is why ethics cannot be divided. Actually, the human being does not act as a human being in an ethically good manner if at the same time he is unfair and egoistic as producer. Equally if he is indifferent towards his consumption as a consumer and treats the products in a wasteful way.

 

The human being is a thinking and a sensual being with needs of knowledge and enjoyment, of communication and appreciation. He has several dispositions: he is philosopher and monk, entrepreneur and artist. Because of specialization and technical developments and the unbalanced cultivation of a pure rational life style these dispositions only could develop in a limited manner. In his one-sided position, the human being tends to confound reason and effect. So for the thinking part food is a means, a means of nutrition, but for the senses it can be target, purpose – purpose for a good life. Another example is money: for modern people the means of payment money seems to be target and purpose. But money only is a means. In contrast to this, our food is more a life purpose with the function to maintain our physical life and to satiate us. But besides, it can do much more and give us enjoyment, communication and well-being.

 

The human being is a moral being, because he is free and must in contrast to an animal seek and define his way of life. Notwithstanding this, today morals and ethics are fallen into disrepute. This is comprehensible because the single person formulates his moral principles also for all other persons. So, morals are occurring in a private way and most of the time it is subjective and ideological. On the other hand, a wrongly understood tolerance is added to this and nobody likes to say to other persons: “Do this!” or “Don’t do that!”, and nobody likes to hear these sentences from other persons. But in every gesture and in every acting and speaking there are morals – implicitly. Everything is embedded in morals.

 

But the morals are going to become a duty when as at present the world is within a material and mental crisis, is exposed to an external and an internal threat. On the one hand, the earth is threatened, on the other hand mankind is in danger. Only the finite resources of energy and biomass of the earth are at disposal of an enormous world population that is globally grew closer together and is still increasing its requirements. Although mankind biologically is the same since hundred thousand years, its technique has developed in such an enormous way that his biology only to some extent is able to adjust to the technical inventions and he has lost the empathy for the consequences of its intervention in nature.

 

Since the period of the industrial revolution, the organization and the conditions of work are in a crisis. Perhaps you know that a third of all investments of an company gets lost by interior opposition caused by the personnel: they hold information back or misunderstand them, because of lacking transparency persons are getting ill, employees do not communicate or the hierarchic difference suppresses and paralyses them. Politicians and economy experts are asking the question whether the economic upswing will amount to 1,3 or 2,0 or 0,9 percent, but companies of all kind and all sizes are wasting a multiple of that.

 

 

Quality and essence

 

In a state where the human being is thrown back on his own, the essence of existence can be revealed to him. When facing illness or death all what is superficial and external vanishes. “In the face of death”, the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard says, “everything is ridiculous.” The human being wants to overcome the illness or to avoid death. He is bound to concentrate on himself, on his essence – on the convalescence or on maintaining life. Therefore he turns to the internal and reduces his connection to the material world. It is strange to see that the human being experiences the same reduction in an opposite state – in the state of love. Lovers are essential for themselves and the material is becoming a trivial matter, even though sufficiently important enough to be open for the communication with others. The essence of existence reveals to be a feeling, a touch, an insight. The ill person is the understanding person, according to Novalis the same sentence applies to lovers.

 

In contrast to this, the modern world gives the impression as if money, capital and yield would be the essential subjects. This is a disastrous error and an confusion of reason and effect, where the human being misjudges his essence and reacts with lability: being ill and showing lack of energy. Motivation always has something to do with an essential subject – with quality.

 

But what is quality? Everything that exists in the world has an essence. Aristoteles defines it as „what it is to be this”, as a What. The essence is the “what-being”, that is near to the Latin terms quale and qualitas – characteristic, essence – terms in which our word for quality is included. So the essence reveals to be quality.

 

Nature has quality itself. It has a high value, is precious and can be taken as criterion for the good, the qualitative, the substantial. The subjects created by men should be judged by their presciousness. So, quality should be a duty for everyone, for it has - through the senses - positive effects on the development and the well-being and strengthens the quality of life, i.e. the principle that motivates human beings. A good form, a practicable and surprising function and a solid material are characteristics of a good product and appeal to persons by increasing the receptivity of the senses, keep the diversity and make the human beings able to perceive shades and tints. This form of quality makes the human being feel light: it elevates him and advances his creative power.

 

 

The valuable nature material – be careful and make beautiful

 

At first, the human being lived within natural surroundings and without objects. Objects are products of mankind the material taken out of earth by the hand – the Pro ducere. The basis of all products, also of those with highest technology are derived from the natural material. The pro­ducts of times gone by had a high quality because they were made by societies who realised that matter that things taken from nature belonged to the cosmic powers and had to be treated with care. Nature was treated carefully and this resulted in the beautiful product, because to treat carefully and to make beautiful in the German language etymologically means the same. Beauty compensates the injuring of nature and it binds together ethics and aesthetics – the beautiful (aesthetical) form and the carefully treated (moral) form are expression of the respect towards nature. But also respect towards the cultural dignity of mankind. Because in reallity all products consists of natural material and only are composed in different form and dosis, the consequence is that technical products also should be treated carefully.

 

The careful treatment of nature by mankind is the high responsibility he has to take in our times, because the limited production of former times has extended and meanwhile covered the surface of the earth – once without any object – with a layer of very complex products like cities, aggregates and machines, like traffic ways and factories, vehicles and ships.

 

At the latest when the resources are in danger and running short we have to examine the products concerning their quality and their careful production process. Which materials have been manufactured? How much nature is consumed for a certain purpose, how much energy is used for it? How much natural mass is moved? How long is the life span of a product and can it be disposed and recycled? Just imagine that in order to produce a finger ring made of gold the same natural mass is moved to produce two cars. Such ecological balances help to face the environmental damage reaching its limits in a more efficient way and to derive from that knowledge the use of adequate material and sustainable processes.

 

 

Motivation – Movement coming from the internal

 

Morals meet the human being from outside. As a requirement and a duty in the form of “You shall!”, “You must!“. So it is one of the important tasks today to invent a form of morals coming from the inside – that is the motivation.

 

Motivation is being moved, pleased and inspired and results in a higher quality of life. Especially missions, missions instead of just doing jobs create motivation and strengthen the sense of life. By motivation our life receives meaning, a direction and responsibility and creates values that moves and motivates the human being.

 

Motivation derives from the Latin term movere and means able to move. A person who has a task wants to move, is motivated and consequently creative.

 

The movement coming from the innerself mostly is caused by a character and has a character as target – quality, something comfortable, adequate, beautiful and carefully treated. When a human being meets such a character he is touched for a moment by a sense of veracity and well-being. Then there is an atmosphere as if everything would be harmonized with the world, with the universe. In that moment, a form or an experience is going to be the symbol of an elementary and existential meaning. This being internally motivated promotes the engagement for a sustainable care of nature.

 

Also companies need sustainable care. They are not self-satisfied but subject to a social sense and utility, finding their expression in their performance. A company may have the function to nourish the entrepreneur and his family or to move the money of shareholders. But its products, its services and its corporate policy are shaping society – and they have to take a responsibility that goes over and beyond product- and marketing orientation towards society orientation i.e. towards a sustainability and meaningful future.

 

During the period of settling down – now I return to where I started – the human being cuts off a piece of space from the great house, the universe, and invents the house. Houses are protection, authors of rules and centres of power, from which the human being extends into the surrounding regions and constructs other houses until he has covered the earth’s surface with houses. The house is the precondition for clearsited progress and globalization because only from the house he has the possibility to extend into other territories. The creating of rooms and the narrow ensemble of houses are the work of settled people who have to take responsibility for the complex house-holding. For all houses are parts of the great house and the human being is living in his own house as same as in the house of the community, of earth and of the universe, the householding is to be considered in an universal sense and not to be limited only to the economy. We could take the term Oikologie that is more extensive and means that the human being should live consciously in the different houses and should feel responsible for all houses.

 

The globalization gives tasks to the human beings. At the beginning, there might stand an active taking of responsibility concerning the collaboration of many different cultures. For this we need communication, teamwork, frankness, intuition and transparency. These are characteristics known in general as female abilities. Not stolid objectivity, unconditioned competition or dry logic but the connection of objectivity with comprehension, liability, sense, care and responsibility, without losing the task. That is why women are more and more successful in the sectors of economy, science and policy. We do not have to stress here emancipation because the exceeded individualism, known as egoism, and the merciless competition struggles neither have a future nor are competitive.

 

Teamwork is the collaboration of different competences completing one another to reach a common target. The team-worker must be able to collaborate with others. He must be able to make compromises and to know and to stand that other human beings are thinking in a different way, feeling in a different way and behaving in a different way. He must be interested in the well-being and success of the team, the company and the society. The well-functioning teamwork creates synergies and fulfils the conditions of communication, appreciation and pleasure at work.

 

That is why it is the task of companies taking responsibility within the process of globalization to develop and to care a corporate culture where these abilities and talents are practicized. Here, the working human being is standing in the centre and also the satisfaction of his aesthetical, intellectual, spiritual and efmotional needs. The characteristics of the products are no longer to separate from the rules of treating nature and mankind, but must be developed by the same internal engagement – by a motivation. So the values of credibility and transparency, veracity, confidence and communication belong to a corporate culture. By the collaborating the corporate acting consciously becomes an engagement for society and nature.

 

Modern ethics will be global ethics – world´s ethics, considering a global responsibility and a world´s community. If we want to preserve regional and traditional values this great responsibility is the smallest common denominator, that we are all living in this one world, with all the differences and complexity of our world. By remembering the senses of the Oikos of our original food, we gain the motivation to form the world we globally can experience. The world´s ethics do not follow the motto “You shall!“ but more the sentence “We can.” A device related with the device of the wise Chinese Meng Tzu who says: „It is possible to act as a great human being.” I like to end with that simple and optimistic sentence. I hope it will be a paradigm for all our professional and cultural, our private and social engagement.

 

 

© Hajo Eickhoff 2007

 

 

Hajo Eickhoff

 

Duisburger Straße 13

10707 Berlin

hajoeickhoff @ versanet.de

 

25. September 2017

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