Prof. Esa Saarinen Philosopher

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Esa Saarinen is a philosopher of the everyday who wants to help people to flourish in their lives. A chief emphasis for him is the urge to develop modes of philosophizing that would make a difference in the business world. 

Esa got his doctorate at the age of 24 at the University of Helsinki, working under the ingenious Professor Jaakko Hintikka. After working in the 70's in the tradition of analytic philosophy and philosophical logic, Esa moved in the 80's to broader themes, to Sartre's existentialism, philosophy of feminism, history of philosophy and philosophy of culture, writing ground-breaking books in Finnish on these themes. Esa also became a media star in the 80's in Finland. He domesticated the concept of a philosopher living a real life in real time through numerous appearances in the public media. He recorded a LP and published books in addition to commenting all kinds of burning issues in the press. For most Finns, Esa was pretty much the only living philosopher they knew by name and apprearance.

His book Media Philosophy, a major work he co-authored with Mark C. Taylor, one of America's leading philosophers came out 1994, went on to several printings, and stood out also because of its visual design which lead to a product line with Marimekko. In 1990 Esa published the book Muutostekijä (Change agent) together with industrialist Ensio Miettinen, the founder of Ensto Companies. The innovative and highly unconventional industrialist was convinced that work life and business required a synthesis of the objective and the subjective world, the latter being the challenge. This lead to another key turning point in Esa's life - towards a growing interest in work life contexts, and to a desire to enhance people's lifes via contributions to leadership, company culture and organizational behaviors.

Interest in organizations and leaderhip remains a key emphasis in Esa's efforts. What he calls "Positive Philosophical Practice", "Performative Philosophy" and "Philosophy in Action and on the Fly" has been developed in lecture and seminar situations in companies and organizations. A major uplift in this realm has been the possibility to work closely with Nokia in the course of its astonishing rise in the 1990's.

In 2000, Esa was invited to join the faculty at Helsinki University of Technology (Aalto University) where he has taught since then highly popular courses on Applied Philosophy, Philosophy of Life, and Systems Thinking. Esa's appointment to Aalto University was an initiative of Professor Raimo P. Hämäläinen, a leading systems and decision theorist. With Raimo, Esa has developed the concept of Systems Intelligence, a chief notion to understand human behaviors from the kind of "optimistic and realistic" viewpoint Esa prefers, and combining engineering thinking that seeks results with the humanistic tradition that sophisticates the sensibilities.