Adventure Capitalist

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That's my first stab, although it isn't a single word, at Scott Powell's neologism contest, which he blogged some time ago, but I had managed to overlook until tonight.

Starting off by discussing the fact that he was considered for a faculty position at Founders College -- despite the fact that he has just a B.A. -- Scott Powell is searching for a better way to describe his work as a history teacher that somehow also captures his entrepreneurial approach to education.

Sure there are CEOs that accept Objectivism. But they're not selling an intellectual product. They're selling banking services or computer chips, with the help of philosophy. What I'm talking about is philosophy, or, more broadly "intellectual values" as a product–not an "ivory tower" pursuit.

I think this is new enough (correct me, if I'm wrong!) and significant enough (correct me here too, again, if I'm wrong!) to warrant a new term. The hyphenated alternatives (philosopher-businessman, businessman-philosopher, philosopher-entrepreneur, intellectual-businessman, etc.) just don't cut it for me, especially since I want to start using the term to denote myself and my own work! It just has to be catchier!

The best I've come up with so far is "philopreneur," but I'm not too keen on it. So I invite everyone to put their creative side to work on a neologism! Call it the PHR Neologism Contest, if you will. If you're intrigued by the idea, give it a shot, and may the best neologist win!
This is an interesting point that, as an academic scientist, I have not had to think as hard about as Mr. Powell. As an Objectivist, that is, as an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, the question of how certain things currently provided by the government would be provided under capitalism is of interest.

Among those things is scientific research, but even now, at least part of the way it would continue under capitalism is pretty easy to imagine. After all, even now, private industry and charitable foundations fund a fair amount of research, and those sources would have far more money at their disposal without extensive government regulation of the economy and taxation throttling them.

But what of the humanities? Yes. There would still be universities, and academic research would still go on to some extent as long as there were centers of learning, but the practical value of knowing history is not as obvious as it is for science. Since when have you heard of an industry hiring an "applied historian"? (Hmmm. Entry #2, perhaps?)

Throughout history, those interested in intellectual pursuits have had to find ways to support themselves and their studies, often through patronage, support provided by the Church or the wealthy. In modern times, the government has usurped this role, removing money from the pockets of willing patrons and putting the weight of massive subsidies behind intellectual fads of one kind or another and the mediocrity they bring with them

Capitalism, aside from its greater ability to generate wealth (and more patronage), encourages innovation of all kinds. And in the case of Mr. Powell, we see innovation not only in his unique (and very effective) method of presenting history, but in his particular way of financing his interest in being a historian.

It is almost as if Powell asked: "Well. Who was Bill Gates's patron?" and then found a way to gain the favor of that same patron -- by selling history to the public as an adventure and an intellectual pursuit with lessons applicable to our daily lives. (Heck, he has even advised some of us on how we can learn to make more time to enjoy such things!)

I recommend that you explore his web site a bit and consider taking his next history course -- that you consider meeting Scott Powell, adventure capitalist!

And then, of course, if you come up with a better way to describe him, drop him a line in his comments section!

-- CAV

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