Dr. Hermann Simon
"Man of the Past, Man of the Future" - Page 3

With its own decline, the Danube monarchy set its children free. Far from their homelands, these people accomplished great achievements and left permanent marks on the cultural inheritance of humankind. The children of the royal and imperial monarchy were able to achieve such success because they had become exemplary world citizens – educated, culturally flexible, multilingual, historically conscious – long before the era of globalization. “Yesterday’s World” had clearly prepared them for the world of the future. Their works are an echo of a unique culture.

This, however, was merely the broad general setting. The specifics are even more notable. Because Peter Drucker understands history as few others do, he can elucidate the future in a way that is characteristic only to him. He has repeatedly impressed me with his detailed and extensive knowledge, and with the way he cleverly makes such unusual associations. Several experiences and analogies bear witness to this. When I read many years ago that the famous philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer learned Spanish just to enable him to read The Oracle Manual and the Art of Worldly Wisdom8 by the Spanish Jesuit Balthasar Gracian (1601-1658) in its original language, I was truly impressed. I later corresponded with Drucker about this and discovered that he was well acquainted with Gracian. Drucker wrote, “My father gave it to me as a present 72 years ago when I left Vienna to become a business apprentice in Hamburg.... A few months later I discovered Kierkegaard [a Danish philosopher]. And these two have become the poles of my life. Because of Gracian, I taught myself enough Spanish to read his work in its original language – and along with that I learned enough Danish to also read Kierkegaard’s work in its original language.”9 Learning Spanish like Schopenhauer in order to read Gracian and also learning Danish like the famous Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) in order to read Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) in his original language are parallels that put Drucker’s extraordinary talent and depth into their proper light.

8 Balthasar Gracian, The Oracle Manual and the Art of Worldly Wisdom (Spanish original title: Oraculo manual, y arte de prudencia), translated into German by Arthur Schopenhauer, 11th edition, Frankfurt am Main: Insel 1998.
9 Personal letter from Peter F. Drucker, July 26, 1999.