jay_ogilvy's picture
a cofounder of GBN, a Partner in the Monitor Group of Companies
Ogilvy's Law

Many well defined manifolds lack unifying centers that define or control them.

• Just because some things are genuinely sacred does not mean that there is a god.

• Just because a corporation or a country seems to be hierarchically structured does not mean that any single leader is really in charge.

• Just because some behavior is conscious and intentional does not entail a "ghost in the machine," a homunculus, or a central intender.

• Just because evolution appears to be directional, from less order and complexity toward greater order and complexity, that does not presuppose either an alpha-designer or an omega-telos.

Precursors to Ogilvy's Law:

1. Derridean Deconstruction, which is not about taking things apart, but showing how they were never all that unified in the first place

2. Wittgenstein's replacement of Platonic Ideas‹e.g., that one thing which all instances of 'game' or 'justice' have in common‹with the much looser notion of "family resemblances"

Lemma to Ogilvy's Law:

Demythologizing false unities does not degrade the values to be found in their respective manifolds.


• Nietzsche's announcement of the death of god does not mean that nothing is sacred.

• Skepticism regarding conspiracy theories does not entail naiveté regarding power or the impossibility of effective leadership.

• Seeing through Cartesianism in the cognitive sciences does not entail eliminative materialism, a lack of intentionality, or the reduction of mind to matter.

• Dismissing teleology does not deny a manifest directionality to evolution.
In each of these cases and many others like them, the deconstructive turn should not be confused with nihilism or deflationary debunking. The value of Ogilvy's Law lies in its ability to help predict which valleys harbor real value, and which peaks are better left undefended