Kaos Pilots: A Comprehensive View (Part 1)

Kaos Pilots is a fairly unique school in that its students are taught by a wide array of guest lecturers who discuss a vast array of subjects. The latter include courses in business strategy, process consulting, and appreciative inquiry as well as workshops on personal development and theories of narrative–just to name a few. Over its 20 year history, the school has not had an overarching vision of what the school is about (its telos) nor has it had a curriculum in the old-fashioned sense of a relatively unchanging course of study the primary aim of which is for each student to acquire a specific body of knowledge.

Over the past three years, one of the remarks I have heard from students is something that has also struck me: it is that they can have a hard time coming up with a comprehensive view of how all the diverse items they have learned over the three years can be fit together in one picture. The project concerned with achieving a synoptic view is, without question, a philosophical one.

In the past two posts, I have described what could provide Kaos Pilots with greater cohesiveness and unity: an explicit emphasis on the cultivation of character as well as a clear commitment to the articulation and specification of the statement, ‘I want to make a difference.’ I believe the third element would be to supply the school with some philosophical methods for bringing seemingly disparate phenomena into a single whole.

I can think of two such methods. The first is inspired by Aristotle, the second by the contemporary philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. An Aristotlean-inspired method would seek to supply us with the Best Account we can come up with. It should be able to make plain

1.) what could make for a best account,
2.) what makes a best account best, and
3.) how to test a best account to ensure that it holds up under challenges.
This would involve:
1st: Identifying the most considered views on hand and examining each considered view to determine (a) what distinctive goods it supplies and (b) what inherent deficiencies or limitations it cannot, on its own, overcome.
2nd: Importing the furnished goods from each view
3rd: Reading off from the limitations in (b) a set of contraries, i.e., overcoming the deficiencies in (b).
4th: Carrying forward all of these distinctive goods as well as these new goods into a single account, which account would achieve a kind of ‘harmony of goods.’
This harmony I will call the Best Account. The Best Account is meant to be able to meet most substantive challenges, yet it is also open to revision if there is a new, potent challenge that shows up one or more of its limitations. Then it would seek to incorporate the challenge by moving through the method once again the result of which may be a comprehensive view that is quite different from the one that had hitherto been advanced and had, until then, win out.
I plan to discuss MacIntyre’s method from his excellent book Whose Justice? Which Rationality? in the next post.