Buddha was an ancient Indian philosopher who concerned himself with the relief of suffering. He pondered upon the idea for years. He believed that life was painful and people suffered through life not really finding happiness. At best, life is never fulfilling to Buddha’s way of thinking. He realized that humans usually caused their own pain by striving after things that they think will make them happy. In more modern terms, some people focus on materialism and that causes unhappiness. But Buddha thinks humans can detach themselves from materialism. Once humans stop pursuing material things they are liberated. Once free from the desire of having things, pain stops. There is an old saying that explains what one owns actually owns them as one has to house it and care for it. Therefore, the fewer material goods humans have the freer they are to pursue real riches of building character. Buddha believed in reincarnation and thus, through the succession of lives, humans can improve upon their behaviors, getting rid of unhappiness, until they reach beyond perfection in Nirvana (Buddhist Philosophy, n. d.).
According to many scholars, the remaining works of Aristotle are the greatest in the field of philosophy. Aristotle rates as the best philosopher the world has ever known (Stanford, 2015). His teacher, Plato, is rated behind him. In his lifetime, Aristotle wrote at least 200 texts of various lengths on a variety of subjects, but only 31 remain in existence today (Stanford, 2015).
Scholars report that his writings can fit into three main categories: theoretical sciences, practical sciences, and productive sciences. From the three main categories there are subcategories in each section. In his theoretical sciences, Aristotle takes up the argument of the psyche, which was an idea introduced by Socrates and written about by Plato. Practical sciences subtopics include ethics and politics. The productive sciences have the largest group subtopics because this area covers anything that is produced. So architecture, medicine, and agriculture are included along with the arts of music, plays, paintings, dance, and so on (Stanford, 2015).
Many of Aristotle’s works are in response to Plato’s philosophies. For example, Plato’s theory of forms does not make sense to Aristotle. He believes that humans can make sound decisions and that there is no special realm where perfection resides. His main philosophical point is that one must discover what an item or issue appears to be because humans, while fallible, can determine what something is. Aristotle seeks to find “truth,” but modern philosophers now know that there is no such thing as truth, only individual perception. Those who struggle to find truths will be disappointed as everything is filtered by perception. For example, if one sees and hears a man screaming across the street, one person might think the man was angry because of conditioning, while another will think the man might just be trying to get people’s attention for a reason. Each reason is true to the individual thinker.
Like Yukl, Clinton Longenecker writes about business leadership and organizational issues. Both Longenecker and Dean Ludwig have written on the subject of successful business leaders who fail ethically. They have coined the syndrome the Bathsheba syndrome from the biblical story of David and Bathsheba. Longenecker and Ludwig (1993) recount the success of King David and how he is one of God’s favorite people. However, David was human and fallible. He was fallible because he saw Bathsheba and even though she was another man’s wife, David’s heart grows lust for her, so that he eventually commits adultery. Then David plotted to kill her husband and after three tries, Bathsheba’s husband died. Longenecker and Ludwig reason that David had always been a moral person but he could not control his desire for this woman. So he was successful in some areas of his life and not successful in other areas. He persuaded others to go along with his plans to kill Bathsheba’s husband too. Not only did he bring corruption to himself, he had accomplices who did his bidding without question.
In modern business dealings where companies are successful it is not unusual to find that successful CEOs cheat on their wives. Television shows are full of stories of business leaders who are successful being brought down by adultery or by materialism of some sort. Longenecker and Ludwig (1993) suggest that competitive pressures can cause business leaders to abandon their moral codes and/or ethical business practices (Ludwig & Longenecker, 1993). In this day and age where companies are concerned with “winning” and making huge profits, some do not care how the company wins and makes large profits as long as the company performs. Ultimately, when business leaders lose their focus, they lose their ability to lead the company clearly. Thus, business leaders constantly should remind themselves to keep their focus. Their focus has to be on business goals not on ancillary issues that lead them astray.
Philosopher Jonathan Bennett argued that there are some questions that just cannot be answered. This type of philosophy is called anti-explanatory rationalism. Bennett devolves in to trying to explain truths with a formula. However, Bennett assumes that there are truths in the world but does not explain which factors are true. This idea of truth leads back to Socrates and the idea that there are no truths. Socrates would ask many different people in the town square, what is truth? And for every question, Socrates most likely got a different answer. One historian titled an article about historical research that trying to discern the truth was like trying to nail jelly to the wall. The way historical research works is that historians can be certain that event took place. For example, there was a Revolutionary War, but other than that, there is no one truth that exists about that war. Slaves would have one point of view, while colonials would have another, yet women another and so on. So there are multiple truths, not just one.
In conclusion, philosophers have different views on what constitutes theory. Some, like Buddha, look at humans and want to devise ways to eliminate human suffering, while others describe the way business leaders lose focus when they lose ethical perspective. Many philosophers have wrestled with trying to find truths and continue to have a conversation about truths, when it seems that defining the word is near to impossible. It is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.
Aristotle. (2015). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/#AriCorChaPriDiv
Buddhist philosophy. (n. d.). Retrieved from http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/buddhism/buddhist_philosophy.html
Jonathan Bennett’s argument against explanatory rationalism. (2009). Maverick Philosopher.
Ludwig, D. C., & Longenecker, C. O. (1993). The Bathsheba syndrome: The ethical failure of successful leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 12 (4): 265-273. Retrieved from