Capitalism and Society, Volume 12, Issue 1

Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach” by Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen Ph.D. Published by Columbia University’s Center On Capitalism and Society in their Journal: Capitalism and Society, Volume 12, Issue 1.

ABSTRACT: The seemingly never-ending scandals in the world of finance, accompanied by their damaging effects on value and human welfare, make a strong case for an addition to the current paradigm of financial economics. We summarize here our new theory of integrity that reveals integrity as a purely positive phenomenon with no normative aspects whatsoever. Adding integrity as a positive phenomenon to the paradigm of financial economics provides actionable access (rather than mere explanation with no access) to the source of the behavior that has resulted in those damaging effects on value and human welfare, thereby significantly reducing that behavior. More generally we argue that this addition to the paradigm of financial economics will create significant increases in economic efficiency, productivity, and aggregate human welfare. Because integrity has generally been treated as a virtue (a normative phenomenon) the actual cause of the damaging effects of out-of-integrity behavior are hidden, resulting in assigning false causes to those effects. This keeps the actual source of these damaging effects invisible to us. As a result, in spite of all the attempts to police the false causes of these damaging effects, the out-of integrity actions that are the source of these effects continue to be repeated. This new model of integrity makes the actual source of the damage available for all to see, and therefore to act on. Integrity as we define it (or the lack thereof) on the part of individuals or organizations has enormous economic implications for value, productivity, and quality of life. Indeed, integrity is a factor of production as important as labor, capital, and technology. Without a clear, concise, and most importantly, an actionable definition of integrity, economics, finance and management are far less powerful than they can be.


Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C., Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach (2017). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 12 [2017], Iss. 1, Art. 1.

Werner Erhard at the University of Pennsylvania

Werner Erhard discussed the est Training and more with Professor Jonathan D. Moreno in this compelling conversation hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in the first annual Bioethics film festival where the film Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard was viewed. Watch this great interview here: (scroll down the page to view)


Werner Erhard and Jonathan D Moreno




Celebrating Your Relationships

In the ordinary course of events, in order to bring something about, you need to establish a process. In other words, in order for me to get from here to here, I can’t do it all at once. I have to do it one step at a time and by handling it one step at a time, I can, as a matter of fact, be from here to there. So all I need to do is to be willing to establish a process, to manufacture a process – to produce a process. And by a process I can, in fact, accomplish something. Now, that’s the ordinary space in which we live.

There is, however, an extraordinary space in which we also live. I didn’t say to you that there’s an extraordinary space which you can achieve. Let me be very clear that I did not say that there is an extraordinary space which you can achieve. I said that we live both in the ordinary space and we live in this extraordinary space. Well, it’s like having the keys to an automobile in your pocket. If you don’t ever go out and put it in the ignition, you don’t get to drive the automobile. It isn’t enough that the automobile is there. You actually have to know about it and use it. So I want to turn you on to a quality of the space in which you live which could be called the extraordinary quality. And that is, that at the base of it all, fundamentally what’s so, is so by your consideration alone.

A great deal of what exists in our life exists as a function of our considerations. If you consider it to be so, it’s so. If you consider that I love you, I love you. Now you may not be able to consider me down there on the floor standing next to you.  It may be that that’s the part of your life that works in the ordinary way, because that’s pretty ordinary, standing next to someone. To be loved is extraordinary, and it’s a function of the extraordinary space. And it happens as a function of your consideration alone. By merely considering that I love you, I love you.

So you’ve got this universe in which you can create by consideration alone. I call that the magic wand. And it is the instrument by which one creates this ecstatic quality in one’s relationships. You imbue the relationship with ecstasy. You create, in the relationship, ecstasy. Now I caution you that you cannot create in opposition to anything. So if there’s something in the relationship, which you would consider to be inconsistent with ecstasy, you can’t create ecstasy in opposition to that thing. You can’t say, “It’s horrible, but I’m going to make it ecstatic.” You can’t say, “I don’t trust them, but I’m going to pretend it’s ecstatic. I’m going to.” This is not act as if. This is not pretend.  This is not go through the motions. This is something far senior to that. So you can’t consider, you can’t create by consideration, you can’t create by magic wand in opposition to anything.  You can, however, include anything in that which you create. So to create ecstasy in your relationship doesn’t mean that any particular thing has to be in your relationship or not in your relationships. There can be any circumstance and any condition presently existing in your relationship and you can wave the magic wand of ecstasy, as long as you’re willing to include in the ecstasy, as long as you’re willing for that circumstance or that consideration to be a function of the ecstasy, to in fact manifest the ecstasy, to express the ecstasy. And your willingness to allow any condition or any circumstance of your relationship to express the ecstasy is a part of the creation of the ecstasy.

So one creates ecstasy by waving one’s magic wand. One does not create ecstasy by doing something. I am ecstatic because I am ecstatic. I love you because I love you. You are magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence. I am magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence and every one of my characteristics is an expression of that magnificence. So let’s get clear with respect to creating magnificence in your relationships, with respect to creating ecstasy in your relationships, with respect to being willing to have pleasure be an expression of your love, this is all a function of your magic wand. This is all a function of your willingness to create it so, to consider it so. It is so because you consider it to be so. The action follows. The feelings follow. Sometimes people say things like, “I’m terrible” and I ask them how they measure that. By what means do you measure that you’re terrible? Someone once answered me, “Well, I don’t feel good. I feel bad.” Well, I don’t know. Some poetry is about feeling bad and yet it was ecstatic. Your feelings, good or bad, are merely an expression of your ecstasy, merely an expression of your love. To master this space, to master the space of ecstasy, to master the space of love, one must be willing to create by consideration. You need to be willing to do that. You need to be willing to create a context around the existing circumstances. And as you’ve heard from the people who’ve expressed it, it often takes a lot of courage.

But what if it turns out that you were a fool? Well, fool is probably not down very far from where you are if you’re worried about it. I mean, what the hell, it’s probably worth taking the chance. Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life, just to be right in the eyes of the people around you? Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life in order to defend yourself, in order to handle the issues with people you love, that you’ve given up, you’ve sacrificed, you’ve been willing to give up the quality in your life in order to have the power, the force to handle the issues between you and the people in your life. I mean, what the hell are you going to lose? What could you lose? You’ve already given your life up. If you’re doing that, you’ve already given your life up. What the hell have you got to lose? Some crummy job? Some crummy marriage or relationship in which the issues are more important than the expression or experience of love? Not much to lose. If, in fact, it only exists in appearances, so what? And yet, to be loved is extraordinary, and it happens as a function of your consideration alone. – Werner Erhard


Excerpt from The Graduate Review, Sept. 1978, from a presentation by Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard is an original thinker whose ideas have transformed the effectiveness of and quality of life for millions of people and thousands of organizations around the world.  For more than 40 years he has been the creator of innovative ideas and models of individual, organizational, and social transformation.

His work has been the source of new perspectives for thinkers and practitioners in fields as diverse as business, education, philosophy, medicine, psychotherapy, developing and emerging countries, conflict resolution and community building.  Erhard has created new ways of seeing things in areas where progress has stalled or where breakthroughs would make a significant difference.  A majority of the Fortune 100 companies, and many foundations and governmental entities, have used his ideas and models.  Fortune magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (5/15/95), in examining the major contributions to management thinking, recognized Werner Erhard’s ideas about methods for empowering people as one of the major innovations in management thinking of the last few decades.

Living Inside of A Context “It Can Be Done”

“What The Hunger Project intended to do was to catalyze the global grass-roots committed movement and action that would put the end of persistent hunger into place, which means not just feeding hungry people today, but establishing the whole design, the whole infrastructure so that people can feed themselves and their children well into future generations. You see, it was a project of great faith in human beings. Great faith that if hundreds and thousands and millions of individuals took a stand for the end of the persistence of hunger, as an idea whose time has come, that they would then find an action that was appropriate to them. So if they were an engineer or an agricultural specialist, or if they were a politician, or a United Nations delegate, or if they happened to be a scientist or a professor, or the President of the High School Student Body, all of those individuals would have different actions available to them that would have a different impact. The entirety of the impact would be that child in Uganda being fed on a given day, being inoculated so as to survive disease, and being educated – of great importance to end the persistence of hunger – and that ultimately, we the global citizens of the world would be acting for the benefit of our children. And the necessary actions would take place.

So you see it was a stand based on faith and the goodness of humanity, that if human beings knew what they needed to know and lived inside of a context of “it can be done” they would take the actions that were theirs to take that would make that difference.

The Hunger Project enrolled over four million individuals who signed a paper saying “I have taken a stand. I will make the end of hunger an idea whose time has come as my personal responsibility.” The Global grass-roots educational campaign went on from 1977 and through the 80’s. Millions of people enrolled and participated and contributed money and there were many, many groups that broke off from The Hunger Project. “Results” was one that did political action in Washington, DC. Another was “World Runners” where people would do marathons to end world hunger, to get out the news, to alert people that something could be done. In those days, that was really rare, and now you see marathons for everything, which is wonderful. Walks to end breast cancer, and marathons for AIDS awareness, and in those days it was really unusual, it was new. And there was enormous participation through the 80’s and then at the end of the 80’s The Hunger Project made a transformation of its own and began to do very high level strategic work, which it’s currently doing in Africa and India primarily.

I would say in many ways it was successful all the way to the hungry people, in that millions more dollars were given and raised for organizations that were working on the ground doing relief work as well as for The Hunger Project. The Hunger Project raised hundreds of millions of dollars for other organizations as well. Infant Mortality rates fell in many countries. In some countries, due to war since then, they have again risen, The correlation between war and the infant mortality rate is a direct one. War creates the persistence of hunger and starvation. Also, really tens of thousands, if not more, of people, like me, became lifelong advocates for the end of the persistence of hunger and contribute as volunteers, contribute as donors, contribute as professionals to all kinds of organizations and vehicles and policies to help bring about the end of the persistence of hunger.

I think that once one makes a commitment with your heart and soul, I think it takes over your very molecules in a way. It becomes a very part of your personal life’s mission, and then the choices you make will be consistent with that mission. I’ve changed jobs and have participated with projects with many different countries and organizations, all of them consistent with the end of the persistence of hunger, and that will always be the case for me. And I think really for the many thousands of people who made this stand in the 70s and 80s.”

From an Interview with Catherine Parrish on The Hunger Project and Werner Erhard

Purpose and Aliveness

The only two things in our lives are aliveness and patterns that block our aliveness. As patterns are experienced out, our lives become clearer. Things begin to make more sense. What we do makes more sense.

It’s funny, but when the alive you emerges from behind the smokescreen of all those patterns and begins to participate in life directly, life really does have purpose. It all somehow makes sense, in a fantastic way.

When you get rid of the blocks, what you have is aliveness, and when the blocks are gone, purpose emerges. There is no use searching externally for purpose, or trying to “pull it in.” It is already there. Just focus on clearing out what is between you and aliveness, so every time we create greater aliveness, the purpose is being served.Aliveness and purpose are practically the same thing. The purpose is greater aliveness, so every time we create greater aliveness, the purpose is being served.

As more and more of us get to see that the purpose is greater aliveness, it happens that all of us start to do the same thing – we start serving the purpose. Life comes on to us in our own terms, and so does the opportunity to serve.

That everyone is serving the purpose in a different way does not mean that everyone is doing something different. That’s the illusion. We do the same thing in different ways. As each of us makes our part of the whole really work, the purpose is being served.

The purpose is life and that it be, completely.
The commitment is: aliveness

– By Werner Erhard

Assessment of the Philosophical Significance of The est Training

by Hubert Dreyfus

“In the course of the training it became progressively clear to me that the experience underlying the training and the conceptualization of this experience have deep affinities with the phenomena presented and analyzed in Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.”

“…It is directly manifest in the training that est embodies a powerful and coherent truth which transforms the quality of the lives of those who experience it. Moreover, this truth contains radically new insights into the nature of human beings.”


Excerpt from The New York Times article on Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard New York Times 11-29-2015For several years before his latest professional reincarnation, Mr. Erhard consulted for businesses and government agencies like the Russian adult-education program the Znaniye Society and a nonprofit organization supporting clergy in Ireland.

Enter the Harvard economist Michael Jensen. Dr. Jensen, who is famous in financial circles for championing the concepts of shareholder value and executive stock options, had taken a Landmark course in Boston at the suggestion of his daughter, who mended a rocky relationship with Dr. Jensen after taking the course herself.

“I became convinced we should work to get this kind of transformational material into the academies,” he said, adding that he considers Mr. Erhard “one of the great intellectuals of the century.”

In 2004, with the help of a Landmark official, Dr. Jensen developed an experiential course on integrity in leadership at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. The class was offered there for five years, with Mr. Erhard signing on as an instructor during its third year. It has since been taught at several universities around the world as well as at the United States Air Force Academy.

As far as its philosophical underpinnings go, Mr. Erhard struggled a bit to describe the course without resorting to its Delphic phraseology (“ontological pedagogy,” “action as a correlate of the occurring”).

Sitting in front of a bank of computers in his hotel room, he read excerpts from the 1,000-page textbook he is working on, such as: “As linguistic abstractions, leader and leadership create leader and leadership as realms of possibility in which, when you are being a leader, all possible ways of being are available to you.”

Briefly, the course, which owes ideological debts to the Forum and to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, takes an experience-based, rather than knowledge-based, approach to its subject. Students master principles like integrity and authenticity in order to leave the class acting as leaders instead of merely knowing about leadership.

Report on the est Training by Humberto Maturana

“The training is a set of interpersonal interactions that lead to emotional and intellectual experiences that provide a circumstance and an intrument for self awareness, self observation and reflection on the circumstances of the subject trainee, both in his individual life and as a social being.” – Humberto Maturana   Read more

Werner Erhard Interviews Robert Reich – 1988

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