While philosophers critically think about the question why are we here, so many others avoid such inquiry and focus all attention on just doing something?” After all, we have all this time on our hands so we need to put it to good use. So the impatient and pragmatic among us—sometimes referred to as the business-minded—just want to get on with doing! However what good use means is inextricably connected to having an answer to why are we here.
All other animals on this earth haven’t the need to seek answers to the why and what of their time on earth. It is all set for them. Since they haven’t the capability of self-awareness—as does humankind—they are directed by instinct. They just do and never give any thought to why or why not—just like many business-minded people.
Not having critically thought about the answer to the why question before acting on their answer to the question of what will we do—without knowing why not—people create havoc for (the rest of) the living world. Doing anything that is incongruent or counterproductive to our collective why—like acting out of a concern for Me—is destructive to society and life. Especially when the ‘Me’ has the resources, access and thus power to (adversely) affect so many for so long.
While everyday decisions and actions by those in authority of our organizations and institutions touch many people, we are not mindful enough of their impact on a day-to-day basis. It is only when the adverse effects of their decisions reach seismic proportions, creating headlines, that we pay attention. Unfortunately our attention is soon diverted—often by those in authority—to symptomatic remedies so we never really get to the root cause. We simply move on to just doing, again.
Unfortunately, most unheedfully charge ahead in pursuit of what’s in it for Me, erroneously believing that the answer to why is to accumulate material wealth, or to prepare young people to be cogs in the economic machine, or to make markets work everywhere. The need for a philosophical perspective in all human endeavors, particularly in business, education and government, should be clear. Yet we continue to forsake critically thinking about the why of things—not using our capability of self-awareness—in favor of just doing it. No wonder a sense of meaning is lost in so much of what we do!