Personal Philosophy

[These articles were originally written in a series of email to my daughter, Amanda.]

Strategy teaches that a philosophy makes up the core of every strategic position. For those interested, here is the core of my personal philosophy.

The US Declaration of Independence starts with the statement that certain truths are “self-evident” and that among them are that we have been “endowed by our Creator” with certain rights.  Today, of course, many in our society don’t consider the existence of God self-evident at all.  On the contrary, many consider the belief in the divine and “supernatural” to be antiquated and outdated.   These people naturally look down upon anyone with a strong belief in God or an afterlife or a "deeper reality" as somewhat benighted and ignorant.   Of course, inherent in this view is that, as a group, non-believers are much superior to the believers around them and , by inference, to all those historical figures such as our founding fathers, who believed that our divine origin to be self-evident. 

Personally, I find a world without  deeper reality extremely unsatisfying.  However, I do not believe that a deeper, more mysterious reality is "supernatural" in the sense that it is completely separate from the natural world. I think the natural world and its rules arise naturally from this deeper reality and its rules. My entire career and especially my research into the nature of strategy has lead me from indifference to questions of philosophy to the idea that belief in the deeper nature of reality is necessary to make sense of the world.  Though my beliefs are not "traditional," they are grounded at once in ancient tradition, modern science, and, strangely enough, my study of the science of strategy.

The purpose of this series of articles on philosophy is to explore my less “modern,” but extremely scientific (in the sense of consistent with the objective evidence) view of reality, that is, that the divine or at least mysterious nature of creation and our individual existence.  This views are, if not self-evident, an important challenge to those who want to see.   Perhaps those who consider themselves non-believers have considered all the “reasoning” that founded my personal philosophy and discarded it simply because they are much brighter than I am.  Though my faith seems to be the result of my experience, education, abilities, and knowledge of the world, I could be in some simple way be defective in my inability appreciate non-belief as in any way “enlightened.”

In my own intellectual adolescence when I saw the “romance” of rebelling what was considered “self-evident” to generations before mine.    Still, no matter how callow and shallow I was when I was young, I was never a good “materialist.”  I never truly believed that my sensual perception of the physical universe could in any way be definitive experience of reality.   From the time I was in grammar school, I knew too much science, physics, and biology to think of my perception of a material universe as anything but a comfortable fiction, created by limited sensual impressions, organized by an even more limited brain.   The idea that my perception was “all there was” was never a serious consideration. 

For me, philosophy isn’t about what we can understand or know about reality. This is a tiny, meaningless fraction of a much larger whole.  It is about exploring what truly matters and what none of us understand.   In other words, my philosophy is about exploring and accepting mystery.  It means going into a territory where we can prove nothing but where what we believe is extremely important.