Wed January 12, 2011
Barry Schwartz Explains "Practical Wisdom"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Most of us want to do well in this life --- for ourselves, for our kids, for our friends and neighbors and co-workers, for society, and for posterity. But doing the right thing isn't always an easy call. Nor --- in this age of endless rules, regulations, and restrictions --- is it always obvious. On today's show, we discuss such matters vis a vis a new book that looks back to a very old concept --- an idea, indeed, that goes back to Aristotle. "Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing" is co-written by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe. Schwartz is our guest on ST today. Here's a capsule review of his book from the pages of Publishers Weekly: "Schwartz and Sharpe, both professors at Swarthmore College, explore our increasing distrust of and disenchantment with our institutions --- governmental, medical, legal --- an alienation shared by professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers and the populations they serve. The authors exhort a revival of what Aristotle referred to as 'practical wisdom' --- figuring out the right way to do the right thing at the right time --- not merely following established rules. Particular circumstances call for specific responses --- the key is a flexibility impossible in ossified bureaucracies. Schwartz and Sharpe focus on finding a balance between professional commitment and financial profitability, praising 'canny outlaws' who find ways to exercise practical wisdom, from judges to hospital custodians attentive to context. This highly recommended and important book offers an antidote to the mistrust that plagues the morale both in the workplace and beyond."