Ethics in Business: Faith at Work

By James M. Childs Jr. | Go to book overview

3

THE NOT-SO-SECULAR WORLD

The fall of communism can be regarded as a sign that modern thought—
based on the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that the
knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalized—has come to a final
crisis. This era has created the first global, or planetary, technical civiliza-
tion, but it has reached the limit of its potential, the point beyond which
the abyss begins. I think the end of communism is a serious warning to all
mankind. It is a signal that the era of arrogant, absolutive reason is draw-
ing to a close and it is high time to draw conclusions from that fact.1

—VACLAV HAVEL

One of the ways in which the shareability gap is perpetuated is the continued belief that secularity is the final truth about reality. That belief is implicit in several of the five conditions discussed in the opening chapter, but it is most apparent in the one referring to our lingering conviction that there is a genuinely [universal reason] that can provide generally accepted answers to our problems of ethics.

Two decades ago, at one of the more recent peak periods of secular consciousness in our society, one theologian noted six signs of secularization: (1) religious institutions, symbols, and doctrines have lost much of their influence; (2) religious institutions have become sufficiently secular that their members are hard to distinguish from those who do not practice religion; (3) the autonomy of the public sector has been almost completely secured from religious interference; (4) history has no divinely ordained goal, and humanity is the measure of all that is happening in the world; (5) the natural world has been desacralized and given over to technology; and (6) loss of religion leads to a loss of moral authority.2 In a secular worldview, religion, custom, cultural tradition, and other expressions of the human spirit must bow to detached, objective reason and empirical knowledge and take up permanent residence in the personal and private realm of subjectivity.

Secularization has continued unabated but not without reevaluation. As we have already seen, people are increasingly aware of the limits of

-28-

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Ethics in Business: Faith at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: Bridging the Shareability Gap 1
  • 2: From Being a Nobody to Being a Somebody 14
  • 3: The Not-So-Secular World 28
  • 4: From Dualism to Dialogue 42
  • 5: Beyond the Moral Minimum 56
  • 6: Beyond Leadership to Servant Leadership 71
  • 7: Beyond Affirmative Action 86
  • 8: Beyond Mere Survival 102
  • 9: Beyond Certainty 121
  • 10: Beyond the Company Walls 136
  • Notes 149
  • Index 163
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