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Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life

by Michael Novak

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1461141,719 (3.25)2
Business is routinely dismissed as soulless, valueless and rapacious. This book argues against this by saying that business not only creates social connections, lifts its participants out of poverty, and builds the foundations for democracy, but can and must be morally uplifting. Novak defends business executives and provides a philosophy to guide their thinking. He presents their key moral ideas, including the creation of the idea of progress, and attempts to show how the moral risk of materialism can be countered by a cultivation of natural virtue.… (more)

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I read this book as background reading for a research project that I'm doing on how people discern their vocational calling and how they develop an identity as a called professional. For my research, we are focused specifically on callings that allow people to express their true selves, pursue a unique purpose, use their unique strengths, and meet an important societal need. Novak's book takes a slightly broader perspective on business as a calling. Although he starts by discussing what is meant by a calling, he goes on to argue that business and capitalism in general are morally serious callings. He acknowledges that business is often carried out unethically, but he also argues that business is intertwined with three cardinal virtues - creativity, community, and practical realism. He also emphasizes that business has both internal and external responsibilities that underlie the potential for business to make the world a better place. I was hoping for a bit more focus in this book, but once I accepted it as a broad meditation on business as a calling, I enjoyed the societal perspective and thoughtful insights. ( )
  porch_reader | Jan 31, 2014 |
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Business is routinely dismissed as soulless, valueless and rapacious. This book argues against this by saying that business not only creates social connections, lifts its participants out of poverty, and builds the foundations for democracy, but can and must be morally uplifting. Novak defends business executives and provides a philosophy to guide their thinking. He presents their key moral ideas, including the creation of the idea of progress, and attempts to show how the moral risk of materialism can be countered by a cultivation of natural virtue.

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