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Monday, December 15, 2014

Using the Philosophical Principles Conscious, Subconscious, and Intentionality in Management



We can learn a lot from philosophy and apply that to management in much the same way as we can learn from psychology, anatomy, or economics and use those principles within the workplace. I have the pleasure of engaging in a philosophy group that focuses on understanding key concepts of philosophy and finding practical uses for philosophical principles within our lives. The principles of philosophy can be used to create greater management skill and understanding of human behavior.

The subconscious influences a wide variety of daily behaviors without us even knowing it. The philosophical group moved from discussions of the conscious last week to the subconscious this week. The debate included concepts such as the need for the subconscious, nature of the subconscious, and intentionality. There are three reasons why as business professor I would be interested in the conscious, subconscious and intentionality.

Philosophy as a Platform:

Philosophy is pre-science that leads to greater discoveries about life and human nature. Philosophy first generates a mental conception of an idea and science tests it. Old ideas that don’t have a solid empirical footing eventually die off while new ideas emerge that better explain the nature of events. We must first think it before we can test it and use it. 

In the world of business, innovation is an important part of growing new products and services. The nature of philosophy helps business theorists understand human motivation, nature of life, and the process of creativity. Philosophy provides a broad framework in which details are drawn into through experience and empirical evidence. 

 The Nature of the Subconscious:  

Originally developed by psychologist Pierre Janet, the subconscious is seen as something under the layers of our conscious thought and generally out of our awareness. It is a little like dropping down a well where it becomes difficult to see even though you can feel the coolness of the water.  You may grab a hazy object and come to the surface whereby the sunlight (awareness) allows us to analyze the object.

The subconscious can be seen as a wild animal darting about irrationally where the conscious reins it in much like a rein on a horse. The subconscious can alternatively be seen as a goal directed truest sense of self where the conscious doesn’t control urges but finds the most advantageous places to allow those urges to fulfill themselves appropriately. The later argument is stronger than the first in terms of appreciating the “whole person” as an integrated entity. 

The Purpose of the Subconscious

The subconscious has a powerful calculating component that works in the background of our conscious life. If we tried to pay attention to everything that happens in our life we would overwhelm our senses and abilities. It wouldn’t be long before we found ourselves exhausted and confused. The subconscious does all that work for us. 

The subconscious is a survival system that pushes for certain urges and needs. Its thoughts and desires bubble up from the depths of the mind and when we are aware put into our conscious mind. Those connected to their subconscious can also tap into creativity and problem solving abilities for sport or survival. 

Intentionality

Discussed in the 19th Century by philosopher Franz Brentano and tries to explain concepts as they relate to a goal directed mind. Our mind is fed by our sense and creates images and impressions. Because we have these images and impressions and they are different from the physical existence of these properties means we have intentionality of the mind. 

Intentionality is a little confusing as they relate to how we feel about particular objects, ideas, and concepts but they do not have to exist in front of us at the time. If we think about something we like (i.e. ice cream) we will naturally create an impression of that ice cream in our mind and have certain feelings and thoughts related to it. We are thus displaying intentionality. 

Together we can find that intentionality and conscious work together. As information bubbles from our subconscious to our conscious it takes on a level of intentionality. The feelings, impressions and images may be in our subconscious but as soon as we are aware of them they have some goal directed properties. We have emotions, feelings and impressions that lead us down certain behavioral paths. 

If we think of the multitudes of people within any workplace in America, or the world, we will find that activities are definitely goal oriented. The reasons why a person comes to work and shuffles papers everyday has obvious advantages. The way in which a person feels and thinks about these things is more difficult to understand and could have subconscious roots. Understanding human nature helps in better managing people and motivating them to a higher degree of performance.  

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