Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing

Barry Schwartz, Author, Kenneth Sharpe, Author
Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe, Riverhead, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-594-48783-5
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice) and Sharpe, both professors at Swarthmore College, explore our increasing distrust of and disenchantment with our institutions—governmental, medical, legal—an alienation shared by professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers and the populations they serve. The authors exhort a revival of what Aristotle referred to as "practical wisdom"—figuring out the right way to do the right thing at the right time—not merely following established rules. Particular circumstances call for specific responses—the key is a flexibility impossible in ossified bureaucracies. Schwartz and Sharpe focus on finding a balance between professional commitment and financial profitability, praising "canny outlaws" who find ways to exercise practical wisdom, from judges to hospital custodians attentive to context. This highly recommended and important book offers an antidote to the mistrust that plagues the morale both in the workplace and beyond. (Jan.)
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