The Buddhist versus the Biblical versus the Existentialist versus the Bourgeois Business Model

Overview of the options for philosophical entrepreneurs

There can be no doubt that times are difficult. Inflation adjusted wages for average employees have been stagnant or even falling for decades. Many traditional industries (taxi drivers, hotel and store owners, journalists, etc.) face near-existential threats from digital competition. And public sector workers are exposed to the effects of inevitable government austerity. It is hence small wonder that more and more people, especially those in the humanities field, look for alternative business model build their lives on. For all you fellow comrades, Noah denkt™ would like to offer an overview of some of the major “Hail Mary” – business concepts that are out there. And let’s start with the most popular of all of them which is that of the Buddhist Monks.

A) Buddhist Monks

The business model of Buddhist monks rests on four pillars:

  • It exploits the market credibility of its founder who has undoubtedly made it into mankind’s universal canon of great minds.
  • Taking advantage of this fundamental achievement the monks’ business model is to offer books, seminars and advice with the expectation that such services will be compensated by its constituents through purchases and donations.
  • Most importantly however the monks’ business model is that of a mendicant. Strict rules apply as to how the monks can go about making themselves available for donations. Active solicitation of donations is prohibited And the dignity of the mendicant monks should be preserved at all times. (For more details on Vinaya, the monks’ code of conduct, see: Lay Guide to the Monks’ Rules, in: Buddhist studies; http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/layguide.htm). Nevertheless it is in the very nature of that practice that in extremis monks cannot shy away from exploiting their own specter of need and starvation in order to press home the need for voluntary donations by onlookers. In other words, there is an element of silent, probably even passive aggressive coercion in this mendicant business model.
  • Obviously, the monks work hard to minimize the need for putting on display the most dramatic consequences of their at times insufficient diet by exercising a very well administered frugality in the consumption of the goods that have been recovered in the marketplace.

Pros of this business model:

Contrary to most other business models, the Buddhist monk approach allows for enough processing time to actually get to the bottom of all things related to life and death and develop a balanced and independent judgment accordingly. A slight constraint to that independence of judgement may be found in the fact that as a Buddhist monk one tends to be a member of a monastery and is hence obliged to remain compatible with the general views in the monastery. As opposed to other religions however, Buddhism operates with only a negligible interest in metaphysical considerations. This makes Buddhist reasoning and practice extraordinary compatible with the basics of enlightened Western reasoning.

Cons of the business model:

Rightly so, an enlightened and post-modern audience rejects the notion of willingly subjecting itself to a silent and perhaps passive-aggressive coercion. Instead the Western philosophy of assertive communication encourages the public to proactively define and defend the legitimate limits of what it is willing to stomach. That approach basically rules out the starker aspects of the monks’ self-denigrating mendicant activities. In other words, the post-modern business model of Buddhist monks rests in large measure on the exploitation of its founder’s credibility (sale of books etc.). That obviously forces the monks to awe its potential donors even more by playing up and exaggerating the intrinsic holiness of the Buddhist wisdom. Being a Buddhist monk hence is not entirely void of having to oversell its product to a prospective clientele.    

B) The Christian/Biblical Business Model:

The Christian business model rests on the assumption that the serious and existential sacrifice offered in the pursuit of God’s (supposed) Will, will ultimately incite God Almighty to allow for an abundant compensation of the sacrifices endured. Within Christian theology it is an open question whether subject compensation will be granted in the afterlife or in this world. The Biblical examples of Abraham and Job however suggest that the expectation of a material worldly reward for the believer’s sacrifice is not entirely far-fetched.  And even the otherwise universal concept of balance and harmony would suggest that some sort of equilibrium between compensation here (in this world) and in the afterlife must be reckoned with if any imbalanced lopsidedness between this and that world is to be avoided.

The Christian business model hence presupposes that substantial material success (as in the case of Abraham and Job) can only be had if God is willing to grant that. To that end, worshipping God and doing the morally right thing is more important than hatching elaborate PR, marketing and sales campaigns.  After all, clients will eventually come naturally attracted by the sheer irresistibility of the Christian’s market offering.

Pros of this business model:

You do not have to coerce your potential donors into clemency. Instead you focus on not giving God any excuse for not granting you eventual clemency. Additionally, the Christian business models actually allows for the development of marketable product and does not have to limit itself entirely to the sale of books and seminars preaching the wisdom of the Christian belief.

Cons of this business model:

It’s a long-shot approach that requires substantial stamina while the majority of empirical evidence may well be stacked up against the zealous Christian entrepreneur. This has to do with the fact that as a Christian sacrifice artist you will be working with a metaphysical thought system that faces serious challenges from the science department. Additionally, too much self-abuse may also be inevitable in this business model. And, finally, you will never know for sure, whether you are actually among God’s chosen constituents or not. But hey, at least there is some sort of hope that you might belong to the selected few. And with that you should well be better off than most atheist French farmers or non-Uber taxi drivers who simply see their business disappear for good.

C) The Existentialist Business Model:

The core element of the existentialist approach (at least according to Jean-Paul Sartre) is that you have to do the right thing socially and politically even if doing so may cost you your existence.  In other words, you could argue that there is no real business model here since the raw theory appears to suggest that the question of compensation is by and large irrelevant. Nevertheless, existentialists usually try to make a living writing, painting or filming about existentialist topics (for instance, by debating the question of what the right social and political cause actually is that justifies dying for now that German occupation has ended and Communism has imploded). For some social and political thinkers art and litterature is a viable proposition since the barren nakedness of Existentialist life is in itself appealing. It needs to be said though that the literary and art market is a difficult one and existentialist offerings may well have reached a point of saturation. It therefore comes as a relief though that ehe existentialist approach is way less emotional and hysteric in the consideration of the option of suicide than its fellow though systems.  It is consequently fair to say that existentialism has its strongpoint in the area of a viable exit strategy. And venture capitalists clearly know how important exit strategies actually are.

Pros of this business model:

You do not have to work hard to keep your spirits up. Instead you can take advantage of the good things that life has to offer without bogging yourself down with too many moral or health preservation issues. Smoking, for instance, is no longer much of a problem as is the question of marital faithfulness. You simply understand that from the point of view of reason there isn’t a lot more to be expected than what is actually available to you in this life. And so you mustn’t torture yourself with questions of whether should or not benefit of them. Additionally you don’t have to spend extra energy in courting potential customers as you basically opt for a take-it-or-leave-it sales approach.

Cons of this business model:

In particular in the long run it is hard to hang in there without taking recourse in any kind of irrational or metaphysical hope. Ockham’s razor and/or sex, drugs and rock and roll only get you so far. Additionally you may have to learn an actual craft such as playing the guitar or so to get by, at least somehow. Ultimately you will have to bank with Bukowski and others that your body is worn out enough as the retiring age approaches that you can simply and naturally perish.

D) The Bourgeois Business Model

The bourgeois business model is easy to summarize: Figure out where market demand is, get money from the bank and hire specialists to build and market a product/service that can then satisfy the original demand. In other words, be an empirical opportunist, appear creditworthy and do what you have to do in order to have a decent life. Given the fact however that it is increasingly difficult, in particular for humanities majors, to understand where the original opportunity actually is that they can serve with their particular skillset, it may well be that most of the humanities’ majors will have to embrace A, B or C in order to avoid or counteract despair.  So it is probably wasted energy to elaborate the Bourgeois business model any further. After all, it is quite reasonable to presume that most students of modern life will already have gained their own insights into its reality by substituting as interns, burger flippers and personal assistants with little or no end in sight.

Pros of this business model:

Even if this model get you much further than the minimum wage, you can still claim to have better than if you were to blow yourself up as radical jihadists. There is still some fun to be had even with a minimum wage income. Take the movies, for instance, or the occasional trip down to sunnier parts. All that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The main advantage of this business model however is that it considerably reduces the chances that others view as a nut-head. All other models mentioned above take you straight into that market segment.

Cons of this business model:

Don’t fool yourself, if success doesn’t come your way in this business model you will still be looked upon with weary eyes. They won’t think you are crazy but they’ll still treat you as a loser. Additionally, the bourgeois model keeps you so terribly busy that you will never ever get to the bottom of anything. In other words, you will have to pretend a good deal of the calm and self-assuredness you project in order not to scare away the few customers you actually have.  But whatever the pitfalls may be in this scheme of things you will always be able to tell yourself that at least you gave it a try.

E) FINAL OBSERVATION

Obviously the complex nature of the issues addressed in the various business models warrants the question on which side of the aisle Noah denkt™ would actually come down. So we do not want to leave you without giving you our own final recommendation. And here it is: Take advantage of everything that is good and right in each of subject business models, then create your own conviction mix out of them and run with it until you can no more.  

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