Helsinki University of Technology
Philosophical Practice for the Embetterment of Everyday Life
I am a philosopher of the everyday with deep interest in promoting and inspiring
human flourishing on the ndividual, group and organizational levels.
In the context of my philosophical practice, my guiding idea has been to turn
philosophy to the service of vitality, virtuousness, positive energy and positive
spirals of flourishing. The project is focused upon impact and upon the embetterment of
people's actual lifes. Taking its inspiration from the Socratic ideal of taking philosophy
to the streets and from the the ancient promise of philosophy as a key project of the
good life, the approach focuses upon the positive deviance, the life-giving and the
flourishing. It amounts to a "positive philosophical practice" that joins forces with
Positive Organizational Scholarship and Positive Psychology.
My key operative instrument is speech and dialogue. Particularly intriquing is the context of traditional
non-interactive (mass)lecturing for promoting reflective philosophical thinking for the purposes of life-enhancement.
The idea is to turn the seemingly one-sided and passive instrument of (mass)lecturing into an operatively sound
vehicle for the benefit of human flourishing. This is achieved by adopting a non-disciplinary and non-instructive
methodology. In that methodology, the lecturer puts aside the imperative of instructing the participants on some
content-specifc theme in order to become a "tender and dynamic" facilitator for the thought-enriching situation.
The philosopher-speaker becomes a "conductor of thoughts" for an audience playing their thought instruments. Context-sensitive
subtleties related to the unfolding joint performance will become critical. Associations, intuitions and personal
engagement are gently and firmly encouraged, guided and reinformed by the philosopher-speaker. An intensive and
energized context for each participant to experience "movement of thought" is created through meaning-intensive,
inspirational and stimulating openings on fundamental life themes provided by the the philosopher-speaker.
What looks like a "lecture" thus turns into an intra-active experience of thinking-by-myself-in-the-company-of-others
in the living presence. This yields a platform for energized associative and personally enlightening thinking processes
that will help the participants to reconnect with the significant themes of their lives for the purpose of their personal
flourishing. The participant might end up to revision her "reflected best-self" composition (in the sense of L. M. Roberts,
J.E. Dutton, G.M. Spreitzer, E.D. Heaphy and R.E. Quinn). In effect, the lecture becomes a significant "broaden-and-build"
emotional experience (in the the sense of Barbara L. Fredrickson) in the non-threatening and non-intrusive emotional atmosphere
that the philosopher-speaker will take great care to cultivate.
Traditional model of informative lecturing is thus rejected in favour of a "living philosophy", "philosophy on the fly" and
personalized thinking that focuses on serving associatively and generatively the growth processes of the participants.
Distancing itself from the argumentative, criticism-focused and disciplinary tradition of Western academic philosophy,
my Positive Philosophical Practice turns towards the hidden life-supporting potentials of each human being throught
thinking processes. The approach amounts to a positively tuned Socratic approach to a revitalized sense of life, mental
strengths and life-supporting potentials.
The approach has been found effective as an instrument to promote flourishing in hundreds of seminars and lectures
(lasting from 2-3 hours to anything up to a week) for radically different audiences and organizational settings.
The positive philosophical practice for the benefit of human flourishing fits seamlessly with the key convictions
of Positive Psychology and Positive Organizational Scholarship. The idea is not to point out defects in people's thinking
or ways of life, or find new theoretical constructs for the discipline of academic philosophy, but to use the already-existing
endowment of people's own thinking in order to help them create, from within, more flourishing life, meaning and positive deviance.
Article: Philosophical Lecturing as a Philosophical Practice
Systems Intelligence: Life-Enhancing Interventionism, Contextualism, and Humanly-Tuned Holism
Closely related to my positive philosophical praxis is my work on "Systems Intelligence". Systems Intelligence is an
approach that we have initiated with Prof. Raimo P. Hämäläinen and developed with associates since 2002. By Systems Intelligence we
mean intelligent behaviour in the context of complex systems involving interaction and feedback. A subject acting with systems intelligence engages
successfully and productively with the holistic feedback mechanisms of her environment. She perceives herself as part of the whole, the influence
of the whole upon herself as well as her own influence upon the whole. Observing her own interdependency with the
feedback-intensive environment, she is able to act intelligently.
A key idea here is to observe that much of human life takes place in contexts that are co-creational, complex, involve
multilayered structures of interrelations, are analytically and conceptually unknown, are on the move and changing, and may
display emergence - and yet people may be able to act intelligently within them. It is the endowment we posses as humans to act
intelligently in systems we often cannot describe, verbalize, conceptualize or objectually grasp which points to an innate and hidden
competence within us as humans that Raimo and I have described as Systems Intelligence. This calls for action-focused, humanly-tuned
research that emphasizes what we do right, as opposed to what we do wrong, with the idea of generating more of it.
Systems Intelligence Research Group
Book Chapter: Systems Intelligent Leadership