Samstag, November 29, 2014

Doing Philosophy Together

               Gemeinsam Philosophieren
           An Interview of the Constance SinnPraxis by Willi Fillinger, Philosophische Praxis kopfvoran in Zürich for the AGORA of Philosophical Practitioners
Hello Christine! Hello Mike!
             together: Hello Willi!
Willi: You are running  SinnPraxis , - at the Lake of Constance - together as philosophical practitioners. How does that work?
Christine: Well, I think, we are a good match. We do not advocate a  "separation" between our  philosophical practice and practicing philosophy at  Uni. We are both active in different positions at Constance University. I am doing my PhD, Mike is lecturing - and we are trying to bring results into our activities as philosophical practitioners.
Mike: Topics of our university philosophy are also relevant  for our philosophical practice. To give you an example: Christine has dealt in detail with the concept  NATURE  in her Master`s thesis – in the attempt to find a point of departure for “Joining Philosophizing with Kids”. And she does that under the perspective OF SAVING THE WORLD: our world that enables us to live as  human beings and do philosophy, take responsibility (Hans Jonas).  If we carry on in the present manner, this might not be the case for long … Willi: AND you are doing philosophy mainly within the university  - or: do you also offer philo for the world outside?
Christine: I will write my thesis for the university. But SinnPraxis organizes a reading circle where we discuss (philosophical) texts.  In these meetings outside uni we can also bring in central points of our philosophical work. 
It helps a lot, when you speak to people that are not professional philosophers and have different ways of “making sense” … This is important especially if your aim is to deal with a topic relevant to all. And I think SAVE THE WORLD , seeing to it that human life will truly be possible on Earth in the future, is or ought to be relevant to all. Mike:  And there have been attempts to save the world before. One of them is connected with the name: Martin Heidegger, in his 1933 attempt "den Führer  führen"  (to lead the leader Hitler). The first lot of Heidegger´s black booklets, "Schwarze Hefte" from the 30s have just been published. This was to some extend a secret philosophy. It is only now (2014) that we are able to look into it. I have done a seminar week with that topic at Constance University. And we will deal with it in a Café Philo in Berne /Switzerland. I am looking forward to that public discussion. Willi: What about philosophical counselling – how does it differ from therapy, from psychotherapy? Do you offer counselling, Mike?  Mike: Yes I do counselling – in a very special field so far. (One often cannot make a living from philosophy alone)  I have worked part time for 30 years in a rehabilitation clinic  and was employed as a language philosopher in the language & speech therapy department. This brought me into contact with the Self Help movement. Here I proposed to do “Family Seminars”:   language loss after stroke effects also for people living with an aphasic person.  In such a long weekend I am taking part as a Philosophical Practitioner. There comes a man and lets me know: "My problem is  ... "  And then: "I won´t take much of your time". After a while it was obvious that he was deeply moved. He wept. Someone who adheres to such a form of psychotherapy, could have described us as beginning a "systemic therapy or counselling". I told him  my first impression: "... we will not be able to solve your problem here and now! But there is a book I can suggest: Yalom, The Schopenhauer Cure. A Novel."   Willi:  Is it possible to do therapy with Schopenhauer? Mike: Indeed! Schopenhauer was probably the first one of the well known Philosophers of German tongue, whose texts and thoughts had an effect in the direction of  philosophical practice ....
Willi: How did that work in this instance? Mike: Oskar had texts written by  Yalom at home already and he got this Schopenhauer CURE. He knew that Yalom is a brilliant writer, well readable. And he started to link his life  - with problems on the level of the couple connected with property issues too – to passages in the text, and he mailed that to me. We were in „virtual contact“ for some months. In the end he wrote to me that he finally managed to solve the problematic with the help of writing mails to the philosopher on the other end of the communication line and continually reading in that book with philosophical content. That book is written by a non-philosopher. The author's profession is Psychiatry. No clear cut  between  „existential therapy“ and practising philosophy here.  Willi:  This is your example of a bibliotherapy, … Mike: Yalom refers to the philosopher Bryan Magee who coined the term. Willi: Can we generalize this? Elaborate how you act as  philosophical practitoners! Christine: I was informed about this  "Schopenhauer bibliotherapy" in a copy of the emails. Schopenhauer and Yalom  were also on our agenda of a Philosophical Week at the Adriatic Sea / Istria. At that event you could realise, that Schopenhauer and  in parallel the Schopenhauer CURE are inspiring. The CURE is fictional literature.  The initially „negative hero“,  has a nasty habit and can´t  get free from it in a time and money consuming psychotherapy. Then he studies philosophy, „cures“ himself inspired by Schopenhauer and wants to become a professional 'philosophical counselor' (in the States). In our SinnPraxis the point of departure is a uni seminar  - and we transport contents to ordinary people. In the Istrian  week you could witness how people begin to take their time to grasp philosophy. Although we had only scheduled a daily "working time" of 2 to 3  hours  one could see that doing philosophy also happened in our  free time („Freizeit“). I therefore think that having a closer look at philosophy is  of equal importance as the „transportation“ into everyday life („ die Lebenswelt “), that is our world in our time.
 Mike: Thank you, Christine! You have outlined within the frame of philosophical practice a counterpart to  Yalom's group psychotherapy. Acting as a philosophical practitioner I had spent just about 4  hours a day with the participants, and some kept talking to one another well into the night. There was one couple that came to us with „Beziehungsstress“ (stress in their relationship) and used the atmosphere pregnant with understanding to cheer up and socialize. We were a dozen. That seems to me a good number. Willi: Christine, in your understanding of philosophical practising doing philosophy with kids plays an essential part. Obviously your own experience … Christine: I have dealt with the topic in my studies and I have a daughter of 20.  Looking back I asked myself: have I brought her up inspired by philosophy? Have I educated (gebildet) myself in practicing philosophy during that process as well?
I have, for instance, not simply given answers to children´s questions, but have passed on the answering-role  (Eva Zoller):  „How do you think one could answer to that question?“ (in variations). I believe it is important not to silence kids by simply stating, passing on doctrines. Mike: … Socratic tradition! Finding a revival in this book of Michael Hampe, Die Lehren der Philosophie. Eine Kritik (2014) >Philosophical Doctrines. A Critique<
See also: Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee, N.Y. (Modern Library) 1999

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