Montaigne and Descartes’ practical understanding of wisdom: A new ground for ethics and anthropology
Business ethics
Issue Date: 
Lázaro, R. (Raquel). "Montaigne and Descartes’ practical understanding of wisdom: A new ground for ethics and anthropology". Handbook of Practical Wisdom in Business and Management. , 2020, 1 - 16
Since the 1970s and 1980s, Business Ethics has been studied and taught. This Ethics is usually “pragmatist” or “deontological,” but it can also be “realistic.” Ethics is part of Philosophy, which was classically called “love of wisdom,” but that definition and ethics itself changed since Early Modernity. Realistic Business Ethics – inspired by Aristotle and St. Thomas – has a metaphysical ground that highly differs from the modern metaphysical one. Associated with the “science of man” and the truth conceived as “something useful,” this metaphysics is conceived as pragmatist. Anthropology and economics – considered as social sciences – were born with Modernity and Enlightenment, respectively, in a context of changing philosophical paradigms but have gained prominence since the nineteenth century. Our aim is to briefly explain who are the authors and the key points that made this change possible. This illustrates the new way of understanding the man and his action from a moral and social perspective. With Montaigne and Descartes the science of truth is left behind as the science of man gains more attention. This implies that contemplation is substituted by a technical action of one self who knows itself as a free and individualist actor (subject) with own interests and passions. In Descartes we find the traits of the new wise man, what is his method, and how metaphysics, anthropology, and ethics are now articulated, that is, how and why this change from a contemplative wisdom to a pragmatic one occurred.

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