Quietly listening to a lecture for an hour is so twentieth-century. How do we participate, interact, think through and discuss the ideas we are being presented with? All of my lectures are interactive and include pair discussions and exercises. They can be scaled to small or large audiences, and address native or non-native speakers. Here are the main topics.
1. Rebellion against the Absurd. How will we survive the lockdown? What kind of reactions does enforced isolation lead to? In his novel The Plague, philosopher Albert Camus describes how inhabitants cope with an epidemic that quarantines their city for months. Camus' philosophy of rebellion against fate, and his emphasis on solidarity and passion, provide a positive message for hard times.
2. Why are you alive? The good news is that there is an answer to this question. The further good news is that you are the only one who can answer this question for yourself. How can you give shape to your life? How can you turn your life into a work of art? We try out exercises and practices to shape our own life designed around the concepts of meaning, abundance, freedom, purpose, community and beauty, with the help of Existentialist philosophy.
3. Scarcity and abundance. Scarcity, the feeling of never having enough, seems to be a fundamental value in our society and in economics. What if we started from the standpoint of abundance instead? What different strategies will we discover for dealing with the natural world, in economics, and for our own choices in life? How do we make the shift from taking to giving? (Book: Abundance, 2005)
4. Reframing. Why do we do the things that we do? And: how could we do things differently? All of our thinking and actions are based on assumptions, most of which remain unexamined. We analyse our assumptions in order to rethink our actions and to reframe our approach. We can apply this technique to personal questions, organisational projects, and large societal paradigms. (Book: Reframing – the art of thinking differently, 2012)
5. Paradigm shifts. A paradigm is a way of perceiving the world and of acting in it. Thinking in terms of paradigm shifts helps us make sense of the world and devise innovative approaches. How do we shift from push to pull, from consume to create, from assets to access, from universal to unique, from linear to complex, and from scarcity to abundance? What are the disruptive consequences and golden opportunities for companies and for business models?
6. Homo Creator. The essence of human beings is to be creative. We have created our physical surroundings, virtual institutions, and we are increasingly creating ourselves. In our influence on our ecological and social surroundings, we are powerful yet vulnerable. We can see ourselves as homo creator, giving meaning to our life through self-chosen projects, individually, as a community and globally. How will we shape the future? What values will lead us?
7. Money and value. Money is a remarkable human invention which makes our developed world possible. We can analyse and understand the world of money, investments, booms and busts, and financial instruments. But what is value? How is value related to money? What do we value in life and what kind of financial system can help us to create this world? (Book: Thinking about money and value, in Dutch, 2013)