It is well-known that physicists are searching for a way to find a mathematical model that can include all the forces of the universe. Quantum mechanics can explain the forces that drive the behavior of atoms and particles; however, gravity cannot be explained with this model. It is better explained through the theory of relativity.
Now I am going to talk about an older affair. In the beginning of mankind philosophy and science follow the same way. There was not a great difference between a philosopher and a scientist. In the last centuries, this fact has changed hugely, although many scientists continue searching for inspiration at the books of philosophers.
There is a good explanation for the separation of philosophy and science. The success of science to explain and dominate our reality impulsed the school of thought of empiricism and other ones were losing field of application. What we name today a philosopher is usually working on human behavior and its relationship with the cosmos, because science today is not able to explain how the human brain works at great scale although it can explain the neuronal processes.
On the other hand, there can be a way to explain scientifically many things that today are in the domain of philosophy. Most of philosophies and religions define a way where a man can live better. They propose a simple life far from superfluous things as the best way where a wise man should walk. From Buddha, Socrates, Seneca to more recent philosophers, this has been a very common thinking.
Looking at our occidental society, this can sound very odd, but there is a lot of wisdom in that kind of behavior. As growing complexity is a natural fact, men should preserve a simple living status in order to have high resilience under unexpected events.
However, this is not the only way to cope with complexity. We can take advantage of growing complexity through control. Control or management implies that we can gain functionality preserving good resilience when complexity increases.
Empiricism is related to control, we observe the reality, we extract a common behavior and we can make decisions that fit the world better. This is similar to the sentence: “We cannot manage what we cannot measure”. Rationalism would follow the opposite way. We can find ourselves a model of the reality where we can take correct decisions to preserve a successful state. It does not matter how the world is if I can find a resilient state where our lives can be prosperous enough.
Why have I started the article talking about unification? It is because there is a way to explain the goodness of both approaches from a scientific point of view: The theory of complexity. We can establish a way to measure if our status is resilient or not following an increasing or decreasing complexity approach, and this measuring technique, if model free, can be independent of the technique to establish our model of behavior, based on an empiricist approach or a rationalist one.
And as a secondary conclusion, as most managers are not superscientists, they should guide their own behavior and that of their businesses looking at simplicity: this has been always a wise way to drive any enterprise of the mankind, whatever the degree of complexity of the technology incorporated to the business.