Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Popular Moral Philosophy

A friend of mine works in IT. His department sends out email notices of things that they are going to do -- shut down servers, install patches etc. But what is remarkable in these dull departmental emails is the inspirational messages they place at the bottom. This is the "wisdom" that they think (do they even think?) will produce a more productive workforce for tomorrow:

Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path. -- Henry Winkler

Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility. -- Oprah Winfrey

So if my inner voice (essentially my feelings) tells me that I should key the boss's car, smash my co-worker in the face or sleep with a subordinate who is perhaps even a young intern, I have chosen "the right path."

Dwell in that possibility.

At some, but sadly very few, colleges and universities, we are thinking seriously about what "citizenship" in the moral sense of the word entails in a liberal democracy, and thus what kind of citizen character is required in order to sustain a free and decent society. Henry, Oprah, and the tragically miseducated managers in this fellow's IT department somewhat miss the mark.

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