A_geographical_theory_of_exceptional_hum - 19 The Romanian...

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19 The Romanian Journal of Business Ethics Volume 2, Number 1 April 2008 A GEOGRAPHICAL THEORY OF EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN PERFORMANCE: ECONOMIC AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS FROM THE STANDPOINT OF CONSEQUENTIALIST ETHICS Drago ş Ş imandan Geography Department, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, L2S 3A1, Canada [email protected] Abstract: This paper introduces a four-step model for understanding exceptional human accomplishment, with each step occasioned by one of the paradigmatic geographical categories of distance, place, environment, and territory. The first step provides scientific evidence that winning distance from the pack at life’s unfair genetic lottery means much more than simply having been blessed with a high IQ. The second step elaborates the argument that remarkable achievement emerges as one finds one’s place in the world through meaning-making. The third step deduces that self- actualisation and consistently excellent performance in one’s craft derive from the evolutionary adaptive and genetically-wired joy of mastering one’s environment. The fourth step adopts the standpoint of consequentialist ethics and combines eye-opening quotes with very recent empirical evidence, to reason that the metaphor of cognitive territory is an epistemic gem for both understanding and stimulating the production of human capital and truly innovative contributions. The conclusion proposes that this four-step geographical theory might become a fertiliser of the non- geographical literature on excellence, to the extent that it wields a style of thinking that puts the flesh of deeper phenomenological understanding on the psychometric skeleton of conventional quantitative analyses. Keywords: human capital, consequentialism, genetics, distance, place, cognitive territory, environmental mastery.
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20 1. Introduction The academic year 2002-2003 was rather painful for me, as I had to read the rejection letters sent by some of the departments to which I had applied for an academic job. Ironically, that very year the journal Area published my paper ‘On what it takes to be a good geographer’. The long string of rejections made it clear that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t really know what it takes to be a good geographer. So, with curiosity, desperation, and envy (Simandan, 2007), I began to pay more attention to the world-class geographers from my graduate school, trying to uncover the secrets of their success. Eventually, one department did hire me, but the interest in the secrets of extraordinary achievement has persisted beyond the specific instrumental motivation that originated it. Since 2003, I have spent most of my time reading the new kinds of knowledge coming from neuroscience, evolutionary theory, behavioral genetics, g theory, and neuropsyhoanalysis, partly because of some ennui with the geographical literature, partly because of my older passion for foresight, and partly because of an intense craving to understand the nature of human nature. This literature 1 demolished my
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