Lea Blumentritt-Virághalmy PhD: The excellence of the efficiency of the learning organisation that is the Hellenic features of current economics moral
Abstract:The human being has three mental activities, which – as Aristotle says – takes the form of cognition, willing and creation. While cognition aims at justice, willing is at good and creation is at beauty and usefulness. Moral is dealing with the field of willing; we want to make achievements, we want to make things complete and all of our deeds are reflected back to our own selves. That is where the quintessence of current economics moral is: neither νόμισμα itself nor the object of willing is the moral point but what marks acquiring and possessing knowledge leaves inside the human being.
Man’s labour is to be considered some kind of life, that is the rational deeds and activity of the human soul. All the work done is good when done with eminence suitable to the peculiar nature that features the actor. Good in the human sense is the soul’s activity by excellence − stases Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, how man can find eudaimonia. The generally accepted arena of this action of destiny was ethos, that is the very place where one spends his life, where one’s home is. Figuratively it did not only mean the place itself but also the habits, custom and the everyday practice: the behaviour stemming from the local norms.
However, Socrates puts the expression ethics into a different context: the meaning identified in common law is changed to the norms appointed by the acumen of the self. This dichotomic (dianoethical and ethical) separation becomes the basis of Aristotle’s ethical system. “Excellence too is distinguished into kinds in accordance with this difference; for we say that some excellences are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. For in speaking about a man’s character we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate... Intellectual excellence in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching, while moral excellence comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word for ‘habit’ (έθος).” (1)
By ethics – defined in European Christian terminology − today we mean the field of philosophy that discusses moral problems with philosophical method, that is the inner rules of human behaviour which are subjectively realised in the laws of the conscience, while objectively embodied in jointly mandatory moral laws.
In this context the question of what the sub-caption of my study: “the Hellenic features of current economics moral” means is quite allowable here. Is there any moral in economics at all? Particularly in this globalised world?
Prof. Máté Botos in his book (2) say the following: economics moral is part of society moral that is of a bigger unit bearing core and peripheral connections. Society moral is the responsible relation of the human to himself and other selves both practically and theoretically. This relation is not direct but is present through the different institutions of the society. Another feature is that it is based on reality – this character however is never an exclusive one. It is to band the need for being answerable to reality and the human righteousness. What is ethical in social relationships is just and good. From the old age to the modern age good has been all that meets the human and divine moral laws. With the birth of modern economics the conception of human − even his economic activity − must fully be guided by some kind of morals. Economics moral in this sense is nothing but bringing economic activity and trials to make morals inherent together. The approach rests on three pillars: moralphilosophical, economic, historical.
In this study I am trying to approach the problem based on Wieser’s continuity-principal: what was the Hellenic world’s reaction to oikonomia as being the part of ethics, and this is all reflected today?
This is a rather special approach as with Béla Zalai we can say “…one can only come to know the morals of an age by coming to know that age deeply intuitively. This cognition is indirect and symbolic regarding the age of the subject and is only symbolic to past ages. So the cognition of the immanent development of moral architectonics is symbolic and the method is the intuition of symbols.” (3)
So not with the methodology of the knowledge of it but of the knowledge about it we can highlight two points of the economics moral of the Hellenic world: as in platonic dialogues not a single person can make himself independent from society thus proper and mutual co-operation is the token of both the development of the state and economics. According to Plato efficiency comes from the division of labour and the just division of goods, while Aristotle says that private property is an urge in itself. “For it is not two doctors that associate for exchange, but a doctor and a farmer, or in general people who are different and unequal; but these must be equated. This is why all things that are exchanged must be somehow commensurable. It is for this end that money has been introduced, and it becomes in sense an intermediate... All goods must therefore be measured by some one thing... Now this unit is in truth demand, which holds all things together (for if men did not need one another’s goods at all, or did not need them equally, there would be either no exchange or not the same exchange); but money has become by convention a sort of representative of demand; and this is why it has the name ‘money’ (νόμισμα) − because it exists not by nature but by law (νόμος) and is it in our power to change it and make it useless. There will, then, be reciprocity when the terms have been equated so that as farmer is to shoemaker, the amount of the shoemaker’s work is to that of the farmer”s work. But we must not bring them into a figure of proportion when they have already exchanged (otherwise one extreme will have both excesses), but when they still have their own goods. Thus they are equals and associates just because this equality can be effected in their case.” (4)
The Roman law has a similar approach saying that price is subject to the discussion of the contractors (res tantum valet, quantum vendi potest) should we also remember the commentators of the medieval age saying according to community ruling (sed communiter). The accepted value of work is a social act whose spontaneous manifestation is the market and its authoritarian definition is the community ruling.
As a consequence economics heavily centred around material goods has pervasive influence on our world. Fortunately it is not only the harsh nature of life but also human will that has influence too. This will has a strong noble drive though which economics also has a relation with general human aims and builds up a creed filled with moral values. As Pál Kecsés says “economy as to its point constantly relates to aims, economic value and conduciveness being only means implies values and aims beyond themselves. Thus economy has a place in the series of human targets equivalent to that of one’s creed.” (5)
Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian professor of economics teaching at Harvard already mentioned in his terminology 70 years ago this new concept stemming from economic development. I have already mentioned it in my train of thoughts on νόμισμα and values that ennoble one’s view of life. “Technologically as well as economically considered, production ‘creates” nothing in the physical sense. In both cases it can only influence or control things and processes − or ‘forces”. We now need for what follows a concept which embraces this ‘utilising’ and this ‘infliuencing’. They include many different methods of using, and of behaving towards, goods; all kinds of locational changes, and changes in mechanical, chemical, and other processes. But it is always a question of changing the existing state of the satisfaction of our wants, of changing the reciprocal ralations of things and forces, of uniting some and disconnecting others. Technologically as well as economically considered, to produce means to combine the things and forces within our reach.” (6)
The concept of creative destruction was later based on Schumpeter’s “combination” meaning the process of innovation crowding old theories and processes. This gives grounds to the well-known “Schumpeterian competition” in which monopolising markets and technologies the main aim is absolute extra profit or by exclusive contracts forcing the monopolisation.
Thus the constant means of mandatory development of efficiency has currently become competition. But how is this all reflected in organisations? As Morton Deutsch says “based on the results it is quite self-explanatory that the co-operation of smaller units or persons automatically results in more effective organisational productivity rather than based on competition. It is quite fundamental in respect of the group harmony that the members of the group do not see each other compete for aims excluding each other. Furthermore it seems rather certain that competition brings about a higher level of uncertainty than co-operation. These consequences are no far to seek when organising meetings, conferences, boards.” (7)
Filtering the adverse effects of competition and the constant escalating of efficiency have recently become the central question of all technical literature dealing in management. What is the effective organisation like? How best use the resources to realise the short and long term targets complying with lawful methods and gradually increasing expectations?
Among the prevailing theories the most interesting to me is Charles Handy’s volume The Age of Unreason. He says that real efficiency can only be reached by the so called learning organisation constantly asking questions, making up theories, checking and adapting. Peter Senge – who did a lot to make learning organisation well-known around the world – says that this is an organisation “which continually grow and strengthen its creativity with a view to its future” . The main power – Senge says – of the organisation is that the members are able to “have a different look at themselves and the world” . David Garvin highlights that the member is able to create new knowledge, spread it inside the organisation and is able to change its behaviour in accordance with the new knowledge.
In this changing world all that organisations can do to achieve long term success is to acquire the ability of learning (with European terminology we say development) which remains a fix point to the company in spite of all the changes. This is the only way to make it humane.
The human being has three mental activities, which – as Aristotle says – takes the form of cognition, willing and creation. While cognition aims at justice, willing is at good and creation is at beauty and usefulness. Moral is dealing with the field of willing; we want to make achievements, we want to make things complete and all of our deeds are reflected back to our own selves. That is where the quintessence of current economics moral is: neither νόμισμα itself nor the object of willing is the moral point but what marks acquiring and possessing knowledge leaves inside the human being.
1) Aristotle  (1103a) p.1742
2) Botos  pp.18-21
3) Zalai  p.124
4) Aristotle  (1133a-b) p.1788
5) Kecskés [s.a.] p.130
6) Schumpeter  p.14
7) Deutsch  p.346
8) Senge  p.17
9) Op. cit. p.16
- ARISTOTLE : Nicomachean Ethics (In: Complete Works of Aristotle I-II. Princeton)
- BOTOS M. : Gazdaságetika és a gazdasági gondolkodás története. Budapest
- DEUTSCH, M. : The Resolution of Conflict. New Haven−London
- DEUTSCH, M. : Az együttmûködés és a versengés hatása a csoportfolyamatokra (In: Lengyel Zsuzsanna: Szociálpszichológia /Szöveggyûjtemény/ Budapest, 1997. pp.329-347
- HANDY, Ch. : The Age of Unreason. Boston /Mass./
- HANDY, Ch. : Understanding Organizations. London
- KECSKÉS P. [s.a.]: A keresztény társadalomszemlélet irányelvei (Keresztény bölcseleti írások. Szerk. Bolberitz Pál) Budapest
- SCHUMPETER, J. A. : The Theory of Economic Development. Cambridge /Mass./
- SCHUMPETER, J. A. : Economic Doctrine and Method. New York
- SCHUMPETER, J. A. : History of Economic Analysis. New York
- SENGE, P. M. : Az ötödik alapelv. Budapest
- ZALAI B. : Etikai problémák – Etikai rendszerezés (In: Emlékkönyv Alexander Bernát hatvanadik születése napjára. Budapest, pp.115-124)
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