Archivist’s Pick: The Existential Drucker

Here’s this month’s piece from the Drucker Institute’s archivist, Bridget Lawlor. By drawing lessons from the vast treasure trove of papers and other objects that are collected in Peter Drucker’s archives, Bridget is giving new life to decades-old material.

Throughout his long academic career, Peter Drucker taught not only management but subjects as varied as economics, politics, philosophy and art.

Indeed, although Drucker is most often recognized for his work as a business consultant, it was his passion for the interconnected world of ideas that led him to assert that the practice of management is, in fact, a liberal art.

In this 1943 talk, Drucker tackles 19th century religious philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s question, “How is human existence possible?” A professor of politics and philosophy at Bennington College at the time, Drucker argues that, “If you start with the question ‘How is society possible?’ without asking at the same time also ‘How is human existence possible?’ you arrive inevitably at a purely negative concept of individual existence and of freedom: individual freedom is what does not disturb society.”

“Thus freedom,” Drucker continues, “becomes something that has no function and no autonomous existence of its own.”

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Image source: Claremont Colleges Digital Library/Drucker Archives