Nathan Harter, No one, everyone, anyone

Nathan Harter, No one, everyone, anyone, Leadership and the Humanities, 1/2017


Prospective leaders are frequently advised to know themselves. Such knowledge takes the form of an image, requiring the use of the imagination to create an identity based on some kind of self-concept. This process of looking inward is incomplete without also gaining critical distance from the self. Three prominent philosophers had offered heuristics to imagine oneself as somebody else. Plato asked, for example: what if you were no one – literally anonymous? How would that alter your perspective? Immanuel Kant suggested that you consider yourself and your situation from everyone’s point of view and not just your own. And John Rawls asked, in regards to constituting a group or organization or even something so simple as a contract: what if you might be anyone, especially the least advantaged? Would the arrangement you presently favor seem fair to anyone? By adopting these heuristics and getting outside of one’s self, a leader might avoid typical ethical failings and actually gain a more authentic self-concept.

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