22 October 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Thinking out of the box + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing "Thinking out of the box"

This now common expression reached common language use through the
business world. It is supposed to be a motivator and rally to the
colours. But as I argue in my few paragraphs this all a veneer, reality
requires more than just a semantic tongue twister.

But first news from the Centro Segoviano then Ruel's link to his essay:

Centro Segoviano - Festividad de San Frutos 2015 this Sunday 12:30 at
the Centro.
Details here:

Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the short essay I wrote on the topic "Thinking Out
Of The Box":

See you on Sunday.
All the best,

Thinking out of the box

The expression "thinking out of the box" entered common language use
through business speak. The general idea behind this expression is to
think differently from conventional wisdom. Since the oil crisis of the
late 1970's businesses, and by businesses I mean big corporations, had
to be imaginative to compete in the market place and survive.

Slogans like the "American dream" or the "the harder you work the more
successful you'll become" were not enough to pull in the sales and the
profits. Slogans had to be matched with services and products; in an
economic crisis companies have to deliver. At the same time there was
also an equally popular slogan, "lateral thinking", but this was more an
idea that appeals to creativity rather than the unconventional.

From the perspective of history of philosophy the idea of changing our
way of thinking is neither new nor is unconventional thinking. Of
course, by thinking, we do not mean new ideas not even creativity;
thinking is more a process on how we arrive at new ideas or even
creativity. And the two most prominent forms of thinking are inductive
and deductive thinking.

The reason why these two forms of thinking are so relevant in philosophy
is because they both centre of the state of our knowledge. Thinking is a
function of our knowledge and to put a complex debate in simple form,
the value of inductive thinking is that it is based on "experience" and
in a way it is verifiable. The drawback is that there is no reason why
things should always follow as they did in the past. Especially, when it
is unlikely that through our experience we know all there is to know
about anything; there are limits to experience. Deductive thinking is a
sausage machine: what is put inside comes out as a sausage. But there is
nothing in the machine to guarantee the quality or the gastronomic value
of the sausage; but sausage it is.

The prerequisite to "thinking out of the box" is to think. And the
wonderful thing about human beings is that being able to think is the
sole expression of personal freedom. This is the only thing we can do as
an expression of free will and act of freedom without the hindrance of
others. This is why businesses and dictators spend a lot of money and
effort to try and second guess what we're thinking.

But the good news about our freewill and thinking stops with the walls
our skull. Any ideas we might generate and wish to share with the rest
of humanity will probably be constrained by the coercion of others or
even our simple relationships we have with others. Our thinking might be
free but only in our brain, outside our brain our thinking and ideas are
in a very hazardous environment.

Thus thinking in a coercive or constraining environment where we might
feel threatened or challenged, such as the corridors of a multi-national
corporation, could have limitations. In such an environment we are more
likely to want to think about our survival than going against received
corporate wisdom. But even if we make an allowance for the survival
instinct "thinking out of the box" is still constrained by two other

The first, as I have already pointed out, is our knowledge and
presumably our ability to employ that knowledge. Secondly, our ability
to assess risks and take risks. The second condition, I would argue, is
a very critical factor. Sometimes we don't want people to take risks;
sometime we want people to train not to take risks. So how
unconventional we are able to be is, in many cases, determined by our
background. Even making allowance for necessity to be unconventional.

In a way, these expressions, such as "thinking out of the box" help us
rejuvenate our mental life in a rather dull mental environment such as a
corporate office. But then we cannot help asking, why should we find
ourselves in a dull environment in the first place? There is no doubt
that "thinking out of the box" is meant to be a positive motivator and
rally to the colours, however, I would argue that this is just a veneer.
If we did find ourselves in a situation where we did have to "think out
of the box" we would basically be in a serious and difficult situation.
Maybe in such a situation what we need more than anything else is not
some semantic tongue twister, but to actually do some good thinking with
well placed risks.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Thinking out of the
box + News

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