Why did I leave Business to become a Theorist…


The Death of Socrates

“…an unexamined life is not worth living.”
 — Socrates

It’s question I’ve gotten a lot when I’ve been bouncing it off the minds of my more intellectual friends…

“Why would you not get a graduate degree in business?”
“There’s more money in business.  You want to study philosophy?!”

I’ve asked myself the same questions a lot, particularly the last year or so.  Yeah…  you definitely don’t get a degree in the humanities or social sciences and expect to make a lot of money — but I found myself going “Businessmen and businesswomen are a dime a dozen in the world today.  Indeed, they’re going to be flooding the marketplace by the time I graduate,” which is true.  Not only do I have my past successes in business as armament on a resume, but I started looking to the future…

With my experience in business, I can still teach business if I so want to; however, I think teaching the basics of political philosophy and ethics in politics could be just as important to preventing the next financial or political calamity as any business professional could be, teaching the equivalent courses.  Indeed, studying our past mistakes and failures makes us better able to prevent another Lehman Brothers‘ or Subprime Mortgage crisis or S&L Scandal.  Teaching the values of a balanced approach to policy in business, and business in policy I think is just as important, as well.

My main goal since I was a kid was to teach — even when I went into the private sector for awhile, first in mortgages, then in security as a manager, now working for a Fortune 500’s Health Safety and Environmental Department while I continue schooling…   I realized that studying our political past and the successes and failures in it lend just as much understanding as studying the great economists and financiers of our past and present does.

If maybe one day, one of the students I inspire goes forth to be a little more ethical, and blows the whistle on an unfair banking practice, or other social justice issue, or even something as simple as being a little more ethical in his or her business practices by having a sense of social responsibility and social justice, but still being profitable in his or her business — I think I’ll have done my part.

More and more the past several years, my drive has shifted from a sense of being educated more in business to more a sense of social justice.  I learned I was more interested in learning about business for the sake of my OWN knowledge, than applying it toward something I could use in the future.  When I found myself studying political or social justice issues…  particularly the work I’m doing right now as a Research Analyst and Intern with The SERO Project…  this is the stuff that actually matters.   The fact I retain information from a Business Communication course doesn’t *mean* anything, aside from the fact I can write kickass resumes and letters.  Helping myself and my friends better themselves is an awesome thing to be able to do…  but, when it comes to social science and social justice… this stuff actually MATTERS.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home in the top 5% of income in the United States.   I’m well taken care of, essentially, the rest of my life, even if I fall flat on my face a dozen times.  I’ve lived in some of the nicest places in the country — I’ve gone to some of the best schools our nation has to offer — including Eastern’s prestigious College of Business.  I have a family who’s always been there, and I have access to many resources and avenues the average person does NOT.  I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted, essentially…  even if I had to wait awhile for it.  Studying and working on behalf of the social sciences, particularly social justice, I think is not only a calling, but a duty of mine to perform — and it’s something I’m loving more and more, and have more and more a passion for as the days go by.  While I don’t have a wish at this time to be directly “in” politics, I’d love to be a back-office player someday…  maybe a policy analyst, or a Chief of Staff who offers a sounding board to a legislator or other person who’s decisions matter — to be right there, in the thick of it, when the opinions and the research actually count for something OTHER than lining your own pockets.

This is what I’m going to do.  Let’s get it done.

Gay bashing… what would Hobbes and Locke say?

English: Thomas Hobbes Македонски: Томас Хобс ...

English: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a theorist, I like taking time to think about the world today… and what those who helped shape the thoughts and philosophies we study as a science today would think about them.

With a recent rash of gay beatings and bashings, I’m often taken back to two of my favorite  founders of western political thought, Hobbes and Locke; and often think about what they would say about it, among other things going on in the world today.

quote-open“In Locke’s state of nature, things aren’t so bad!  In Hobbes’ state of nature, it’s DEADLY.”
        — Professor Laurel Sprague


I come back to the ideology of each theorist’s state of nature — where, in all things being equal, Man is at his most primal when it comes to social governance.  There’s no government to tell them what to do; Man, essentially, has all the rights one could ever want.

Locke’s State of Nature is a pretty laid back utopia of “I respect your boundaries, you respect mine, and we’re all happy.”  There are a few commonly understood rules that society in and of itself lives by.  Hobbes, however, it a bit more of a free-for-all.  Things are a lot more “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” to coin a phrase from The Bible.

In a Lockeian State of Nature, I don’t see such a thing happening.  It would go against the very point of Locke’s theory of Nature in and of itself.  People don’t inherently harm others in his world.

Hobbes, on the other hand, is dramatically different.  If a group of straight guys were to beat up on a gay guy, Hobbes would be the first to say that it’s quite likely a group of gay guys would want retribution and blood for the blood spilled of their brother… either the guys who committed the bashing itself, or just a target to prove a point.

What’s the most likely to occur if we were thrust into a State of Nature today?