From beyond good and evil to before good and evil
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 14:38 authored by Payman Tajalli
Whereas a range of business and management scholars have argued that business is in an ethical crisis, Nietzsche makes it possible to see that it is ethics itself that is in crisis, and that only as the crisis in ethics is dealt with can ethics in specific areas such as business be addressed. Nihilism is the name that Nietzsche gives to the crisis in ethics. In response to nihilism, Nietzsche offers a revaluation of all values. This thesis will argue that Nietzsche’s revaluation of all values fails in its own terms. Thus, while Nietzsche poses the question of the crisis of ethics and even the method (revaluation of all values), he does not proffer a way beyond nihilism. Max Webers’ image of the iron cage and organisational disenchantment allows Nietzsche’s nihilism to be situated in an organisational context. The present thesis is developed by examining the way in which a range of religious existential philosophers respond to the crisis in ethics through their own permutations of a revaluation of all values. The religious existential philosophers are Gabriel Marcel, Paul Tillich and Emmanuel Levinas. The central question of the thesis is: do they provide a way beyond nihilism through their own form of a revaluation of all values? And if so, what is the implication for organisational existence? Chapter Two gives an account of nihilism as articulated by Nietzsche, before presenting his revaluation of values, offering an ethics that he claims rests on no foundation. Nietzsche’s project, however, as the chapter concludes, is ultimately doomed to failure. Chapter Three examines the writings of Weber, whose revaluation seeks re-enchantment and a solution in terms of a combination of value and instrumental rationalities in ethical decision making, falling short of the demand for an ethics without a foundation. Chapter Four considers Marcel’s revaluation, which is founded on ontology and revival of God as the unconditional, and hence a relapse on the need for a foundation. Chapter Five examines Tillich’s onto-theologically-based revaluation, showing that, despite the introduction of notions such as “ultimate concern”, it too is held hostage to the need for an absolute, albeit revelatory foundation. Chapter Six demonstrates how, by giving primacy to ethics, taking it as first philosophy, Levinas’ revaluation in terms of an ethics of responsibility, whilst re-enchanting a sense of the divine in the lived experience of individual, offers the promise of an ethics without a foundation. In conclusion, I will discuss how Levinas, more adequately than other philosophers, is able to respond to Nietzsche, and opens up the space for the realisation that an ethics of management occurs when management understands itself in terms of ethics as an irreducible relationship to the otherness of the Other.