Business and the Greater Good

Business and the Greater Good

Rethinking Business Ethics in an Age of Crisis

Studies in TransAtlantic Business Ethics series

Edited by Knut J. Ims and Lars J.T. Pedersen

With cutting-edge insights from leading European and North American scholars, this authoritative book addresses the fundamental problems of business in an age of crisis whilst presenting radical, but practical, solutions.

Chapter 8: Aesthetics, human rights and economic life: temporal perspectives

Kevin T. Jackson

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, corporate social responsibility, international business


Taking an existential, non-scientistic approach, this chapter explores some philosophical and practical aspects of time concerning: (1) aesthetics (temporal relationships between economic value and moral values), (2) human rights (time’s impact on our capacity for well-being), and (3) economic life (comprehending business as a temporal art). If we take human beings to be a substantial unity of body and spirit, how are we to understand a state of human existence in “good temporal order”? Assuming that there is such a thing as temporal soundness, I will argue that we all have a basic human right to the enjoyment of it, and that living with such time-balance is in fact a vital existential need – a prerequisite for flourishing in a state of physical and mental health. Following an intellectual path begun in a recent book (Jackson 2012a), I shall enlist music as a dialogue partner, helping us grasp the sense in which business (like music itself) is a complex, pulsating temporal art that engages our whole being in multiple layers of time cycles. Such temporal patterns are everywhere; they are intricate and overlapping, ranging from our brain waves, heartbeats, and other physiological patterns to natural rhythms such as seasonal change, to cultural trends, fashion fluctuations, and economic rhythms such as stock market dynamics and technology “hype cycles.” Music is about making and receiving sounds in time. Flowing in rhythm, the sounds of music have aesthetic, economic, and spiritual value.

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