CareerSteer – career test for career choice                                     

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The Medieval and Renaissance Philosophers


Living in Islamic Spain in the 12th century AD, Ibn Rushd was called Averroes in the west. Averroes wrote commentaries on Plato's Republic. He therefore helped to recreate the work of Aristotle for the Renaissance. Like the later Saint Thomas Aquinas, he is important for reconciling the religious world with philosophy. His The Incoherence of Incoherence (Tahafut al-Tahafut), defends philosophical reasoning from an attack on philosophy called The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-Falasifa). Averroes saw no real conflict between scripture and the truth derived from reasoning, although he felt that the work of philosophers may not always make for easy public consumption.

What is the relevance of Averroes to career choice and to a careers test?

People with religious views can still use a career test created by reasoning to help them find a way in the world which does not conflict with their religious views. Career choice is necessary, whether it reveals divine will or the playing of biological and/or environmental factors; the two do not have to be at loggerheads.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Living in Italy in the thirteenth century AD, he wrote a lot, in execrable handwriting, attempting to reconcile the teachings of Aristotle and Averroes with Christianity. Although, like many religious thinkers, Aquinas distinguishes between truths derived from faith and from reason, he indicates that both need to be taken seriously. It would be reasonable, thought Aquinas, to debate theology with non-believers. He describes everyday events having everyday worldly causes, although he sees the divine as the original mover in the whole chain of events. The nature of the divine, however, is beyond our understanding. He is perhaps the most influential philosopher for the Roman Catholic church.

What is the relevance of Saint Thomas Aquinas to career choice and to a career test?

Even those with the most devout views need to consider the nature of the world when choosing a career. The CareerSteer careers test does not take religion into account but tries to take into account a wide range of personality types and points of view. This is the point of such a careers test.


Niccolo Machiavelli is usually considered as a byword for political cynicism. This diplomat from early sixteenth century Florence considered the art of leadership in his most famous book, The Prince, rejecting the traditional idea of good leadership being bound up in glory and honour. Effective leadership is what he seeks, perhaps the father of this area of management theory. He is less than impressed by human nature - "ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain" - and feels that a leader is more likely to be effective by being feared rather than being loved. Human beings are more likely to break the bonds of obligation based on love "on every occasion in which their own self-interest is concerned; but fear is held together by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you."

On the other hand, Macchiavelli hopes for better outcomes for everybody. A cruel leader may create harmony through fear, while excessive mercy may cause disorder. Similarly, he criticises excessive generosity, which will have to be paid for eventually, the ensuing tax leading to a cycle of resentment.

Against this run of cynicism, Macchivelli does think that leaders should seek honour and glory. A leader may need to do what is necessary to achieve these ends, including unpleasant measures, but he should not be cruel for the sake of being cruel. Politics is the art of the necessary.

His later work, The Discourses, is a defence of republican principles, as based on the example of the Roman republic.

What is the relevance of Machiavelli to a career test?

CareerSteer as a personality test takes into account desires for power as one of the career test filters. It tries not to make value judgements, while realising that some personalities are more suited to some careers more than others. Managers are more likely to have certain personality traits and preferences, which emerge as people use the careers test. The use of such a careers test for careers choice means that people who are likely to be effective managers are likely to be guided in this direction, while people with other personality traits taking the careers test are likely to be guided to other careers.

Francis Bacon

At the end of the sixteenth century, Bacon wrote many essays. Amongst other things, he attempted to put scientific enquiry on a sure footing, after many centuries of confusing alchemy with chemistry and other peculiar forms of experimentation. In trying to disperse the miasma of confusion, he identified three sources of human misunderstanding: too much trust in sensory experience; focusing on our own preoccupations (akin to the prisoners in Plato's cave); and loose talk, both inaccurate language and the inclination to talk without listening. Bacon suggests methodical ways of looking at natural data, looking at how things differ and to what degree, and testing out theories developed from the data.

Bacon wrote on many other subjects, including politics and morality. True to the spirit of scientific enlightenment, he died after falling ill from stuffing a bird with snow to test the effects of cold on preserving flesh.

What is the relevance of Francis Bacon to a careers test?

The CareerSteer career choice test was based upon clear empirical evidence, with theories used as and where they made sense. The careers test should be used if people want to find their career direction by a route which makes some logical sense.

de Montaigne

Sixteenth century essayist Michel de Montaigne concerned himself with adding the reality of human physicality to consideration of living. He writes of belching, farting and defecating. His point is that it is all very well to set oneself the goal of living a life of self-abnegation and moral rectitude, but the role of our animal needs and the accompanying irrationality need to be taken into account when trying to accomplish an examination of life.

Such a viewpoint allows us to come to terms with what we are, including our shortcomings. It should also make us wary of accepting the authority of opinion merely because of the name ascribed to it. We should think for ourselves, value our own thoughts and enjoy the company of our friends.

What is the relevance of de Montaigne to making a career choice?

A times it is tempting to follow people who set an ideal for ourselves. Recognising our own natures, which are not necessarily those of our idols, is important, as is knowing our own strengths and shortcomings. We must decide on our own career directions.

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CareerSteer – career test for career choice