How Intellectuals Prepare for the Future 2019-03-12
“We have been mistakenly internalizing the result of other people’s thoughts as our own” said Choi Jin-seok, the director of Gunmyungwon, in his book “The Eye of Excellent Reason”. As a philosopher as well as an educator, he discusses about the basic requirements and the way of thinking intellectuals should have for the future.
[Interview] Choi Jin-seok, Director of Gunmyungwon
Gunmyungwon, created in 2015, is an educational institution that trains creative talent. Leading professors from subjects such as brain science, literature, physics, and philosophy carry out classes for students between the ages of 19 and 29. The way they select students is quite unique. There are no specific criteria to qualify. Students who have the genuine desire to seek new possibilities in our limited reality are selected through an in-depth interview.
Due to the wide range of the curriculum, it is quite hard to find similarities between subjects. This is to encourage students to find similarity within different disciplines and strengthen their “metaphoric” ability. Through this, director Choi Jin-seok emphasizes the importance of having an attitude for dreaming new things in life.
Q. Your book <The Eye of Excellent Reason> has received lots of attention as a steady seller. There are many people who sympathize with your philosophy on creativity. What do you think is the definition of a creative life?
We call the act of building our civilization, “culture”. Culture is human being’s most primitive act of causing change through creation. However, when there is a divide between the people who produce and embrace culture, the hierarchy of human beings change.
We describe creating culture as “free”, “independent”, and “subjective”. We describe it as “creative” because it opens up new horizons. We describe it as “humane” when we give to charity or help an elderly neighbor. A humane person is likely to be subjective and independent because he/she acts upon interest in values beyond him/herself. A person who desires to overcome his/her boundaries and limitations is considered free, cultural, creative, and in the most primitive sense, humane.
If Korea were to be considered a non-creative society, it would mean that we have yet to realize what it means to live humanely and as ourselves. In such a case, we must strive for a humane life rather than a creative life. You have to constantly ask yourself what it means to live subjectively and as yourself simultaneously.
Q. There was a memorable phrase in the book, “When the world shakes in a completely different way than before, there will be a chance for us to take initiative”. How do you suppose we take initiative in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution?
We have the ability to react no matter how the industry unfolds through our metaphoric ability to find similarity between two different elements. With this ability, you can bridge together elements to your desire regardless of how the world progresses. You can prepare for the changes to come after the 4th Industrial revolution. However, if you are unable to exercise this ability because you are too busy trying to assimilate to pre-existing content, you lose the chance of taking initiative. Afterall, content is produced through metaphoric ability. Metaphoric ability can formulate individual closed knowledge into open wisdom. It also works the same way looking into the future. Developing this ability is essential for the future.
Q. Then what capabilities does a company require from its intellectuals?
I think the ability to tell a story is very important. Storytelling, if you will. In a society busy to imitate and rearrange pre-existing content, originality is of question. But in leading civilizations, the attitude in which you intend to tell the story is much more important. In addition, you have to familiarize yourself with a non-existent world to be able to form a story.
For example, “The Suspicious Woman” is a film that depicts the story of a grandmother who goes back to her younger self right after her portrait for the funeral. Greatness is born in the process of making non-sense make sense. Creativity is revealing a truth that did not exist in the world before. Creativity cannot be exercised by people who limit themselves in the real world based on objects they can see and touch. Your eyes should be focused on fantasy. Greatness is always born when a fantasy is realized. Therefore, what we need right now is an adventurer with bold actions rather than a reasonable analyst.
An analyst will only act on plausible possibilities after meticulous comparison of options. The reality is that the more possible it seems, the more likely it is to be trivial or unnecessary. Even the way it’s considered adheres to precedents rather than one’s own thought process.
Q. There seems to be a connection between gaming and the type of intellectuals who seek to create a world that does not exist yet.
I consider the development of our gaming industry to have national value. The reason why the Western civilization leads the world today is because of mythology and geometry. We refer to the Western civilization as the “rebirth of Greek and Roman mythology”. Also, if you take a look at leading civilizations there is a strong relationship with advanced geometry. Mythology and geometry are both elements used in gaming to actualize things that did not exist in reality. In this regard, I believe Smilegate has the opportunity to present the world with a new reality actualized through games.
Q. I heard Gunmyungwon is preparing for the future by nurturing talented individuals who pursue new dreams.
That’s right. Many people talk about the future but if you don’t have talent, the future will never be realized. Nevertheless, there are still people aimlessly awaiting the future through time. In order to talk about the future, you have to be clear in what kind of future you want. This is the reason we teach students how to dream of the future at Gunmyungwon. The more impossible it seems, the more likely it is to be a true dream. Something that seems possible to anyone is likely to be trivial and unnecessary. Many people ask if the unordinary curriculum at Gunmyungwon is effective, but this is a meaningless question because the success of our education cannot be determined by traditionally accepted standards.
Q. Is there a reason you emphasize dreams to the students?
Similar to the gaming industry, we as a society compete over expressions and actions available to anyone. At the same time, we have reached the limit to living without dreaming. We have to move onto the stage of dreaming. A dream, in a word, is uniqueness. The direction in which I live, as myself, is called dreaming. Therefore, it is critical that we constantly question ourselves and pursue uniqueness.
Companies should pursue their dreams called vision. Companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc., all have dreams they are pursuing. Creativity is directly related to dreams because it is the by-product of obsessing over dreams or uniqueness. Leaders have the responsibility of sharing this dream with their teammates. A person with a dream is never tired.
Q. Lastly, please share some remarks to Smilegate executives and employees.
If you have a clear dream, your life will be happier every day. No matter how complicated the world gets, you can’t escape having to make a binary choice. If every choice is made with certainty and tenacity toward your dream, you will be happy. If one is hard to choose, that means you are unsure of what you want. Therefore, you must stick to your dream until the very end to be happy. I wish happiness to all the employees at Smilegate.
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