Will Davies, Ph.D., is a sociologist and political economist and a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London and also Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre.
Dr. Davies is author of two books, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (Sage, 2014) and The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing (Verso, 2015).
In this interview, we explore wide-ranging questions as to why corporations have suddenly become interested in measuring and quantifying the well-being and happiness of their employees. Will Davies explains the phenomena of psychological collapse, and how neoliberalism has given rise to the psychosomatic worker. Likewise, we probe the links between the neoliberal ideology driving the quest for employee well-being and social harmony, manifesting recently in corporate mindfulness programs. From Frederick Taylor to Elton Mayo to Hans Seyle, Will Davies articulates the common philosophical thread of utilitarianism underlying these various schemes, which all have relied on messianic messages and charismatic authority characteristic of management gurus. We explore the explosion of surveillance technologies, wearable monitoring gadgets, and data analytics--which are increasingly employed in the service of "well-being optimization." Finally, we discuss the purpose and value social critique in a world fraught with economic inequalities, social suffering and concentration of global elite power.
C. W. Huntington, Jr. translates and interprets Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist texts. He is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Hartwick College and author of Maya: A novel, and The Emptiness of Emptiness: An Introduction to Early Indian Madhyamaka, as well as a number of scholarly articles on Buddhist doctrine and practice. Huntington is particularly interested in exploring new avenues for the translation of ideas and practices of Asian Buddhism into a modern Western idiom.
In this episode, we explore his recent article, "The Triumph of Narcissism: Theravada Buddhist Meditation in the Marketplace," which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, September 2015.
Manu Bazzano has a background in philosophy and rock music. He is an author, psychotherapist, supervisor in private practice and visiting lecturer at Roehampton University and various other schools and colleges. He facilitates workshops and seminars internationally and teaches philosophy in adult education. He studied eastern contemplative practices for 35 years and was ordained as a Zen monk in the Soto and Rinzai traditions. He edited two best selling anthologies, Zen Poems (MQP, 2002) and Haiku for Lovers (MQP, 2004) and is the author of Buddha is dead: Nietzsche and the Dawn of European Zen (Sussex, 2006); Spectre of the Stranger: towards a Phenomenology of Hospitality (Sussex, 2012) and The Speed of Angels (Perfect Edge, 2013). He edited After Mindfulness: New Perspectives on Psychology and Meditation (Palgrave, 2014). He is co-editor of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies International Journal, Therapy and the Counter-Tradition (with Julie Webb, 2015), and book review editor of Self&Society – international Journal for Humanistic Psychology. www.manubazzano.com
Recording of Ron Purser's talk given at the International Contemplative Studies Symposium, sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, November 2014, Boston, MA