Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good, Truth, Beauty and Leadership

Only at Hillsdale Colllege would I be asked to relate leadership to the good, the true and the beautiful. A recent assignment for a class on leadership, responsibility and power required that I answer this question: "Why should one pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful, and what have they to do with leadership?" Here is my short but hopefully adequate response.

Man is a complicated being who has the ability to reason, to feel emotion, and to experience passion. A man cannot, however, understand what he is, nor answer questions of meaning or purpose, without looking beyond himself. Indeed, to be fully human a man must consider what is the good, the true, and the beautiful. Knowledge of these things is fundamental to being, and living well begins with pursuing an understanding of goodness, truth, and beauty.

As man discovers the truth of things outside and around him he confronts a natural order to the world. He learns that objects, animals, and even himself are only good when they are fulfilling their appropriate purpose. Truth, he realizes, is discovered not developed. As he pursues knowledge of these things a natural moral order becomes apparent. In the Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis identifies this moral order as the Tao, a set of objective values. He explains that values within the Tao are natural and universal across all cultures and therefore applicable to all men. Thus, all men seeking to live well must know the moral order and follow it.

A man who seeks to lead other men must know this order because leadership is a moral process and demands moral decisions. Leaders require more than a skill set, disposition, or raw power. They require the fortitude and aptitude to make moral decisions that affect those who follow them. To achieve this, a leader must understand where morality comes from. The first step is to know what it means to be fully human, and to do that, one must know what is the good, the true and the beautiful.

3 comments:

  1. Good thoughts :)

    I also think that a good leader points others to something besides himself. So in order to be a good leader one must set oneself aside and serve others by pointing them to the good, etc.

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  2. Well said. There are a good many universities where a student will be asked to reflect on this issue, though none of them will be our more prestigious secular universities.

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  3. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Thanks,
    Karim - Mind Power

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