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My co-workers are curious about what philosophy has to do with everyday working, and I even get flack from some of you on this forum for being an applied philosopher, so I wrote the following essay to briefly touch upon the subject: Applied Philosophy in the Workplace Applied Philosophy in the Workplace by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 08/19/2012 A co-worker of mine has been bugging me about applied philosophy and what does it have to do with working for a living. He keeps saying, “What does applied philosophy have to do with cutting insulation panels for buildings?” and “What does applied philosophy tell you about how to do your job?” While many people these days can see that electronic equipment (computers and machinery) and mechanical devices are the result of engineering (applied physics), they do not see what philosophy has anything to do with working for a living. My first response would be that the mere fact that you have chosen to work for a living and earning a paycheck is itself an application of philosophy. You could decide to become a welfare bum and live off the State and not do a damned thing in favor of your own life. What makes that difference? It is the philosophy that you accept and live by. Do you consider the ability to earn a living to be a good thing or a nuisance? Do you think others ought to support you, no matter how much you screw up your own life? Do you think those earning more money than you owe you anything from their paycheck, whether you have anything to do with their lives or not? These are all philosophical questions. But more specifically, if you decide to work for a living, rather than being a parasite off the State, applied philosophy is everywhere. If you think about how to do a specific task based upon the specific nature of the job you are doing – i.e. cutting insulation panels, for example – your ability to think that way comes from a philosophy that says that thinking ought to be applied to real physical facts. And this philosophy, historically, came from one philosopher, Aristotle, who lived in Ancient Greece and taught his students how to think about real-world events and practices. Prior to Aristotle, there were practical thinkers (they called it Practical Wisdom), but only because Ancient Athens was geared towards a rational life for the Polis (the City State). Most others around Ancient Greece used rituals and incantations to try to get what they wanted out of life – and I don’t think casting a spell or citing an incantation on those insulation panels will cause it to do anything, let alone cutting them to size and cutting out sections for practical use. And it was Aristotle who formulated the principles of causality (a thing acting the way it does based upon what it is) in many applications in his writings. So, the fact that the Styrofoam of an insulation panel has to be handled a certain way or it will break, or the fact that one must use a powerful saw to cut the panels down to size (due to the steel struts running down their length), all comes from the formulation of philosophers, who taught man how to think in terms of the facts, as opposed to merely fantasizing about having things without taking the facts into account. And this is an application of logic, which methodology did not exist before the philosophers. If you look at a drawing and cut a panel to the right size and shape, this comes about due to applied logic, which says that a panel cannot be five feet long and thirty feet long at the same time and in the same respect. This is Aristotle’s Law of Non-Contradiction. Even issues of morality and justice come up in the workplace. Should a man who does more work and more accurately get paid more than the man who slacks off, expecting others to do his work for him? How to treat others in a social context or at the work place is an issue of justice, which is logic applied to human interactions. And how one treats them depends on the philosophy one has accepted. Should good, accurate, and productive work be encouraged or should it be resented and fought? This goes back to the working man versus the welfare bum. Which type of man should you encourage and which type of man ought you to keep out of your life? These are philosophical issues. In short, philosophy really comes down to mental methodology – of what use are you going to use your own mind for? If you sit around and fantasize all day and don’t get anything done, how can you expect to achieve anything out of life? Should you use your mind for dealing with practical reality or spin things out of thin air that have nothing to do with the facts at hand? These are very broad questions (they cover a lot of ground), and it is the job of the philosopher to answer them so they apply to all areas of life. Without the rational philosopher such as Aristotle, you might know how to do a particular task (if you were taught it), but you wouldn’t know what to do with your own mind and would be like a child wishing for things instead of acting in reality to accomplish your goals.
Checking Premises . ORG Statements and My Position By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 02/04/2012 I seem to be getting quite a few friendship requests after taking a stance against certain aspects of the checkingpremises.org essays and statements as presented on their website -- especially after posting the following to several friend's wall posts: "I think you guys [Chip Joyce et al] have a ways to go to present your case. Yes, there are people who claim all sorts of nonsense is compatible with Objectivism, but when I asked you via FaceBook to give three examples of what you were referring to -- no one came up with three examples. You didn't even point to Libertarianism, Kelley, and Brandon and what they say that is contrary to Objectivism, and hence a mere "belief" in the words of Chip Joyce's "Subjectivist Objectivists." That essay needs to be fleshed out more if you expect the rational student of Objectivism enquirer to understand what your point is -- especially if you are trying to reach the modern day Objectivist student who may do an internet search and come across CP. I mean, there are copious examples out there, such as anarcho-capitalism, the Christian-Objectivist, the determinist-Objectivist, etc...but you would have to show how holding onto these ideas is a form of subjectivism. You didn't even state what subjectivism is and why a belief without facts is a form of subjectivism, nor how a rationalist method and conclusion can lead to a type of subjectivism. John Kagebein's more recent essay is much better in that he referred to specific facts about DH that lead him to his conclusion that she is incompetent to present Objectivism." So, I think I need to clarify my position, least it seems that I am for what he claims to be against. I think he is on to something in his identification of the "subjectivist objectivist" -- only, I wouldn't call it that, as it is a contradiction in terms, and I would have made the case clearer as to what I was actually against. Yes, insofar as there are people out there who seem to cherry pick their ideas from Objectivism on a personal like basis -- i.e. I like Ayn Rand's views on capitalism, but insofar as she disregards God, I cannot be for Objectivism as she presented it, so I am a Christian-Objectivist -- this is an act of subjectivism; of making a decision based on emotions, rather than reason. There is more to subjectivism than that as a methodology, but I am trying to keep this brief. I am definitely and wholeheartedly against those types of people. The problem is that Chip is claiming that the Libertarians, David Kelley, Nathaniel Brandon, and Diana Hseih are acting in a similar manner with regard to "applications of Objectivism that Miss Rand never talked about." But he didn't make his case. He presented no evidence from which he drew his supposed inductive generalization in his essay. Yes, they tend to pick and choose among Objectivist principles -- applying them in a hash-hazard way -- but does this make them subjectivists? Are they doing this based on their emotional reactions to statements that Miss Rand and Dr. Peikoff have made? Not in my experience of dealing with their issues and having discussions and arguments with their followers. I see their primary problem as a lack of Objectivity and integration, and making arguments based on arguments, based on arguments, but never touching the ground in the process. In other words, a form of rationalism. Now, if one holds onto a rationalistic argument that can be shown to be unconnected to reality and therefore not true based upon an emotional attachment to one's mis-generated ideas, then yes, this would be a form of subjectivism. In that regard, Chip is on to something. But he would have to demonstrate this by a reference to the facts instead of merely asserting it. So, while I think I agree with him, after thinking it through a bit with some help from John K on FaceBook, he didn't present the issue very well. So, I am not against the idea (aside from it being presented in a contradiction in terms), just the execution. So, be forewarned if you are friending me because you think I am for what Chip is against, because you would be friending me on the wrong terms.