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How to practice philosophy in the daily life / Как практиковать философию в мире повседневности
Ключевые слова: философская практика, философствование, экзистенциализм, сократический диалог, самопознание, философское консультирование, Карл Ясперс, Герд Ахенбах, Оскар Бренифье, Ран Лахав
Дата направления в редакцию: 11-03-2017
Дата рецензирования: 12-03-2017
Дата публикации: 19-04-2017
Статья подготовлена в рамках задания № 35.5758.2017/БЧ «Философская практика как новая парадигма современных социогуманитарных исследований» Министерства образования и науки Российской Федерации на выполнение государственных работ в сфере научной деятельностиAbstract. This article is intended for those who would like to learn how to practice philosophy in everyday life to improve its quality, to make effective decisions, to establish communication skills, ability to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Philosophical practice, philosophizing can be different. However, an effective guide for those who wish to take advantage of this form of practice, is not a “school” academic tradition, but philosophical issues from everyday life. The problem lies in the ability to raise these issues at the level of philosophical reflection and contemplation. Philosophical practice can be integrated into the everyday way of life and philosophizing can have practical significance. Philosophizing can carry out therapeutic function (psychological component) or developmental function (intellectual component); these functions complement each other.
Keywords: Gerd Achenbach, Karl Jaspers, philosophical counseling, self-knowledge, Socratic dialogue, existentialism, philosophizing, philosiphical practice, Oscar Benifier, Ran Lahav
How to dispose of the basic state of my existence
Although philosophy has existed for a long time, philosophical practice is a new and very effective way of using philosophizing to solve many of the everyday and global problems that modern people face. At the heart of all these problems, by and large, are problems of outlook. Starting with particular questions, people gradually come to realize the need for a holistic view of the world and their place in it. Of course, many social institutions are ready to give people the recipes of a "correct" worldview: this is religion, science, and state ideology. However, all these recipes are learned "from the outside", and not "from within". Therefore, sooner or later, many people, in spite of these recipes, experience dissatisfaction with life. Everything begins with a small one: first - dissatisfaction with work, then with family relations, then, perhaps, with the socio-political conditions of life. But the root of all this is dissatisfaction with yourself.
Border situations are what lead a person to confront with himself . For example, personally for me, they evoke anxiety (fear) and thus relieve the tendency to be dishonest and evasive towards themselves and their lives. What is the source of my fear, as the basic state of my existence? Let us turn to the main provisions of existential psychotherapy by Irwin Yalom .
First, it is the awareness of mortality. Any person realizes that he will ever die, but everyone has this clearly expressed individual manifestation. Some people believe that cannot escape of this and they continue to live peacefully, while others experience this neurotically. Two mechanisms of protection from this type of alarm can be distinguished, namely: 1) belief in one's own immortality and 2) belief in a savior. For me personally, the idea of death is an indication of the significance of one's own existence here and now. It is an alarm that here and now the fullness of my life is not enough. Therefore, it is in my power to make sure that death is not in my life, since I fill the emptiness in myself to the sense of my existence. Philosophical practice as an "exercise in death" helps me to accept death as a measure of the quality of my life. This thought mobilizes me.
The next given, which makes me anxious, is freedom. People interpret it differently. A person thinks that he initially comes to a fully organized world and there is not threatened. But actually it is not. Sooner or later a person begins to understand that freedom deprives him of the soil under his feet, the opening of this emptiness comes into conflict with the need for "soil" and its structure; he understands that he is the creator of his world and, accordingly, bears responsibility for it. Mechanisms of protection from anxiety associated with freedom lead a person to a false awareness of the lack of responsibility for himself, for their life choices. Philosophical practice helps me not to be afraid of the responsibility and choice associated with freedom. The world is a mirror in which must be reflected I, and not someone else. Only then will freedom be perceived as a good.
The third ultimate given, referring me to myself, to my basic state of existence, is loneliness. People come to the world and leave it completely alone. This existential conflict is a conflict between conscious of isolation and the need for contact. Mechanisms of protection in this case will be: attempts at self-affirmation at the expense of other people, as well as merging with another person or group. However, loneliness is an indicator of our spiritual maturity, the ability to calmly perceive ourselves one-on-one with the world and look "into his eyes." Philosophical practice helps me to understand that it is thanks to loneliness, freeing myself from the automatisms of social life, that I can "go home" and "be at home", that is, to find peace of mind.
And, finally, the fourth ultimate given, which is the source of my anxiety, is meaninglessness. The meaninglessness, as well as at a meaning, has set of shades. Here people ask such questions as: "What is the meaning of life, if I will die?", "Why do we live?", "How should we live?" The mechanisms of expending the existential potential manifest themselves either in compulsive activity, which allows us to take and structure time, or, most likely, in "revolt" or nihilism, which is so vividly described by Albert Camus. Philosophical practice gives me to understand that every life situation has its own unique meaning, which must be found, and not "borrowed" in ready-made form from another life situation. In the search for meaning, the very process of our mental activity is important, and not the result, which can be presented in the form of a very banal thought. It is not the thought itself that is important, but how we came to it. This "how" helps to fill any life situation with meaning, because sensation of meaninglessness is largely due to a sense of a lack of our own existence in this situation.
How to read philosophical literature
If the goal of life is self-satisfaction and fullness of existence, then what ideas can we have about this? How do we imagine this happy life of ours and what is lacking in us (in us, not outside)? Why cannot we be happy here and now, but we live, like "on credit", postponing our well-being for later? It is here that philosophical texts filled with finished ideas come to the aid in solving these and many other questions of life, as a kind of "tuning forks" for tuning the sound of our soul. Following these "tuning forks", you can create your own finished idea. It is only your idea, not borrowed from someone. The finished idea, like the finished work, brings a sense of satisfaction and joy. Having a finished idea, we gain happiness, the fullness of which is felt independently of external circumstances.
To understand the philosophical text, it is necessary first of all to develop a fundamental position that guides reading based on trust in the author and out of love for the question he is considering, as if everything you said in the text were expressed by you.
Reading the philosophical texts, I follow the recommendations of Karl Jaspers , who in turn was guided by three Kantian requirements: 1) to think for yourself; 2) try to mentally stand in the place of another person; 3) think in accordance with yourself. These requirements are endless tasks. Any pre-emptive decision, as if it already existed or could have been, is a deception. Philosophical practice is one of the ways to fulfill these requirements.
Independent thinking does not arise from emptiness. What we ourselves think should be shown to us in reality. We knowingly trust the author, as our interlocutor, and any further study presupposes this trust. Our own philosophizing rises, as if relying on historical figures. In the understanding of their texts, we ourselves become philosophers. In joint promotion we experience our own essence, because we need to entrust ourselves to the guiding leadership, to accept it for the true. We should not immediately resort to critical reflection and remain in it all the time; we should not restrain our own movement under the guidance of this or that philosopher. Obedience means respect; we cannot afford cheap criticism; this respect is valid only for such criticism, which, basing on our work, comes step by step closer to the question and then grows up to it so much that it becomes to understand. Obedience finds its boundary in the fact that only what is born in independent thinking is accepted as true. No philosopher, even the greatest, is the possessor of truth.
Thinking independently, we come to the truth only in the event that we constantly mentally put ourselves in the place of another person. You can to know him only if you to put yourself in him completely. Therefore, the philosophizing turns not only to the philosopher whom we chose first and whom we studies wholeheartedly and without a trace, but also to the universal history of philosophy. An appeal to history can cause a sense we are lost in a diverse material. The requirement to think always in harmony with yourself is directed against the temptation to indulge in curiosity and enjoy only yours knowledge. What we take from history should be an incentive for us; it must either focus our attention and awaken us, or help us to doubt what concerns ourselves.
How to philosophizing
Ironically, modern intelligent people do not philosophize a little, although they everywhere demonstrate their erudition and knowledge in the field of philosophy. The way to philosophy they have had alone in a blind wander through the maze of ideas. What they have learned absolutely exactly is that philosophy, what it really is, is not at all what is taught in universities. The image of philosophy as a servant of science or ideology has so deeply ingrained in the consciousness of a person that it can no longer be erased by any fashionable philosophical currents. This image continues to be successfully implemented by the current educational system, impregnated with a positivist spirit, banalities and dogmatism. Clumsy and heavy pirouettes of such a philosophy disgust any normal person. Then, at their own peril and risk, without receiving any help or advice, a modern person begins to build his "philosophical education" alone. Collecting bit by bit philosophical ideas and trying to reflect on them, he, as a rule, learns only what leaves in his memory the most vivid images. Philosophy becomes a means of self-admiration. Instead of exposing illusions, such a homegrown "philosopher" only multiplies them.
An intelligent person can have this or that philosophy (world view), but he does not know how to use it, does not practice it, does not philosophize. Philosophy is the fulfillment of thought, its completion. If only a thesis is proclaimed, not supported by any argument, or if there is no logical connection between the thesis and the argument, the thought remains unfinished. Actually, there is no thought; there is only "likeness of thought" . Philosophy, not backed up and not carried out by philosophizing, is simply a set of dogmas, slogans and labels. By and large, the philosophy is a philosophizing. The most important thing in philosophy is the process of executing thoughts. The inclusion of a person in this process, his complete immersion in him, all this gives an increase in meaning. Reading a philosophical book, a person "starts" this process in himself, he becomes a participant in the dialogue, he argues each author's thesis with examples from his personal life experience, so this or that philosophical idea seems to him so significant.
But the book was read. How to use that unique knowledge that a person has discovered with it help? How do I communicate this to another person without losing the full meaning? We need a certain community, a "college" of thinking people who would practice philosophy and practice a philosophizing. It can be something like a philosophical club, a philosophical cafe, a philosophical house . The main thing is that these communities should be built not according to the principle of scientific, educational or medical institutions. The principle of their activity should be set not by the norm of a social institution, but by personal interest, initiative and self-determination of each participant in this community. The main condition - expressed thoughts should be reasoned and completed, and they should be heard and discussed.
What is mean a "philosophical practice"
Philosophical practice does not work with the causes and mechanisms of emotions, thoughts and actions of people, but with their ideas. The realization of one's own ideas and the ability to fulfill them (that is, to finish) without recourse to ready-made recipes is the goal of self-knowledge. Achievement of this goal brings a sense of satisfaction, completeness of outlook, inner independence and inner freedom. Achieving this goal frees us from much in vain spiritual and material expenditure, connected, as it seems, with the reconstruction of life for the better, but in fact leading along the path of forgetting oneself into the abyss of new spiritual and material expenditure. Philosophical practice is the practice of taking care of oneself, caring for one's own soul, which everyone can carry out only individually . For this there are no ready-made and quick recipes. But do not rush! Although life is short, it is better to fill it with a true existence, than an auxiliary means for this, to maintain them the whole energy of life goes away. We need to think more about the purpose of life than about the means of maintaining it.
Philosophical practice is gradually becoming a recognized profession. In many countries special associations of representatives of this profession are created, the number of clients using the services of practicing philosophers increases . However, what is relevant for us is not the institutional aspect of this topic, but the essential and existential aspects, in fact, what motivates people to turn to philosophers for advice. Philosophy in this case is a set of principles and practical skills that a person can have at his disposal or can provide at the disposal of others in order to properly take care of him and others (in existential understanding). Thus, philosophy can be integrated into the everyday life of a person. It is this philosophical practice that is significant for any person. As already mentioned, philosophizing can perform both a therapeutic function (psychological component) and developing (intellectual component) . These functions are mutually complementary. However, the therapeutic effect of philosophizing is not used either in the practice of education or in psychological practice. Education sets itself other goals and tasks, and psychologists for the most part do not own philosophical tools and are not feeling a philosophical tradition.
Philosophical practice can also influence the ruling academic philosophy in the sense that it will provide the necessary background for a critical study of philosophizing from the standpoint of these functions.
What is mean a "spiritual exercises" and how to use them
Although the expression "spiritual exercises" is rarely used in connection with philosophy, it is not so unusual. Spiritual exercises are a personal practice designed to transform a person, promoting his self-transformation. From the practice of spiritual exercises is philosophy originates in culture. For example, this is all that relates to the preparation for the difficulties of life by ancient Stoics. So that we can bear the blows of fate, disease, poverty we need to prepare in thoughts for their likelihood. We better endure what we expect. Although this kind of exercises are known much earlier than the appearance of the Stoics. For example, the philosopher Anaxagoras, upon learning of his son's death, simply stated without interrupting his studies: "I knew that I had generate a mortal being." Another example is the definition of philosophy by Plato in his dialogue "Phaedo": "Philosophy is the art of death," that is, separating oneself from the body and from the point of view simultaneously sensual and selfish that it imposes on us. Supporters of the Epicurus teach also about spiritual exercises: about moral self-examination, for example, or about limiting desires .
Thus, spiritual exercises are not some kind of "additive" to philosophical theory or to philosophical speech, which only supplements the theory and abstract speech. In fact, the spiritual exercise was originally philosophy, both teaching speech and inner speech directing our action, this is a constant daily practice. Of course, those exercises are preferably carried out with the help of internal speech, with the help of internal concentration. For example, we can say to ourselves: "Do not need to want that what is happening does not happen, but do need to want what it is happening to happen the way it happens." These are the internal formulas that we use, which change our mental attitude.
However, there are also spiritual exercises in external speech, in the speech of teaching . Many people think that philosophy is only theory, abstraction, but in fact, has always been a practice, both in the manner of its presentation, and in the result achieved. The speeches of philosophers are always more focused on formation than on information. Often philosophical speech is presented in the form of an answer to the question, as in the school method of teaching, but in fact, the question here is not answered immediately. If we just wanted to know, it would be sufficient to give one or another answer to one or another question. However, in the answer to the philosophical question are made many turns and detours so that in the end each person comes to the answer himself, in a convenient way for himself. The meaning of these exercises is that questions or answers will cause of doubt in the interlocutor, respond to his heart. It is about self-transformation, about transcending the lower forms of life and reasoning, to rise to pure thought and love for truth. That is why even a theoretical philosophical exposition has the value of spiritual exercise. It is also true that a theoretical exposition cannot be complete if the listener does not at the same time do internal efforts, does not practice these thoughts on himself, as the states of his own thinking.
How to lead a philosophical way of life
Much can cause us philosophical wonder, doubt or emotional shock. But it is not always clear - what actually was me so surprised or shocked. Feelings are experienced by me directly, but so that I have knowledge about it, I need to express it indirectly with the tools of the mind. Starting the process of philosophizing, I expand the boundaries of my self-knowledge. I explore myself as who wondering, doubting and worrying. Being in this search, being in a very vulnerable and helpless state, I need someone to be close and sensitive to everything that happens in me, and what I try to express in words. Realizing such a philosophical immersion, I become extremely disposed to hear something important, weighty and deep. Only at this level of immersion, I am fully prepared to accept philosophical ideas, but, of course, not as a direct guide to action, but as new opportunities, ways or areas for my further voyage.
This experience is the acquisition of an internal order, which can differ significantly from the external order of everyday life. The will to lead a philosophical way of life, comes from a state of lost, from a state of self-oblivion, absolute absorption of work, when a person suddenly awakens, is horrified and asks himself: "Who am I?", "What am I missing?", "What should I do? ". To overcome this self-forgetfulness, one must constantly wrest himself from the world of habitual, thoughtless, self-evident things, from the habitual rut, in fact, from non-being.
The result of the decision to lead a philosophical way of life will be a serious attitude towards your communication with people, happiness and sorrows, successes and failures, as well as to everything dark and confusing that is in me and outside. "Do not leave anything to oblivion, but learn it; not to be distracted, but internally to work out; not "settle" the case, but to clarify it - this means to lead a philosophical way of life," says Karl Jaspers .
Philosophical way of life can be carried out in two ways: either alone as a path of meditation or together with people as a way of communication, using every opportunity to understand oneself in a joint action, a joint conversation or even in a joint silence. Religions are realized through worship and prayer, but it has philosophical analogue in this expressive deepening, understanding yourself and being.
What is the possible content of such thoughtful reflection? First, it is self-reflection. I return to what I did during the day, what I thought, what I felt. I check where I was untruth where I was dishonest with myself. Secondly, thoughtful reflection on the meaning of what I thought and felt during the day. Thirdly, I think about what follows from this, namely how I should live and act further. When I carry out thoughtful meditation in such three ways, I achieve: peace of mind, confidence in life and faithfulness to decisions.
The value of a philosophical way of life is that it impregnates life with thought. However, it is associated with a constant risk of getting lost in distortions: peace of mind can turn into passivity, trust in life - in a deceptive belief in the miraculous deliverance from all suffering, and fidelity to decisions - in stubbornness and indifference. The philosophical way of life is connected with the desire to discern these distortions within me and overcome them. Communication is necessary to raise a critical opinion, but not in order to obey, but in order to better understand yourself and thereby properly take care of yourself.
How to use Socratic dialogue
Socrates argued that in order to acquire the truth or at least approach it, one must firmly grasp one single postulate: "I know that I know nothing." The question arises: how can this postulate help in the search for truth? This statement seems to suggest to us: trust your intuition; all that is in doubt must be inquire; only this way can any knowledge be checked for consistency, because any knowledge needs a thorough examination.
The central point of the philosophy of Socrates, as well as the philosophy of many other ancient thinkers, was the issue of good and virtue. As Socrates asserts in Plato's Apology, the inspiration for this was the inscription on the temple in Delphi: "Know thyself". This, in fact, we do when we philosophizing. Socrates interprets this as a requirement to experience human knowledge and determine what kind of good a person tells about. To create an idea of the good or any knowledge in general, the human soul should be sufficiently prepared. In conversations with fellow citizens, Socrates is convinced that although everyone believes that they respect good and virtues, but to confirm this, they put forward false opinions that do not stand up to reason checks in the course of the dialogue. Asking questions Socrates shows the false opinion of the interlocutor and he begins to recognize that he does not know what he was recently sure of. Such perplexity (aporia) is a turning point, with which a search for true understanding can begin in a dialogue. Socrates understands his philosophy as "Maia" (midwifery), because he wants to be only an assistant in achieving understanding and self-knowledge, which everyone must find in himself, as this cannot be brought from outside. In this sense, our ignorance helps us in the search for truth .
What is the technique of Socratic dialogue? Let us turn to the method of Oscar Brenifier . As soon as the hypothesis is expressed and developed (either directly or through questions), the questioner proposes to reformulate what he heard. Usually the interlocutor begins to refuse. He is invited to analyze what he does not like in the new formulation. Perhaps what was said at the beginning, cannot be reformulated due to confusion or lack of clarity, the questioner can easily ask his interlocutor to repeat what he has already said, or to express it a different way.
Of course, the philosopher who leads conversation plays a key role here. This role is to draw the interlocutor's attention to what is being said, so that the choice of words and the hidden premises behind them do not pass unnoticed for him. The questioner can even persistently ask the interlocutor if he agrees with the choice of words and meanings that he just made in his statement. At the same time, one should refrain from commenting and be ready to ask additional questions if the interlocutor discovers a problem or inconsistency in his words. All that is required of questioner is to help the interlocutor to anticipate and objectively assess the hidden prerequisites of his own position, the unobvious content of his thought, and hence - to bring the very thought to the surface.
Once we have identified the underlying premise, the time has come to ask her the opposite perspective. This is an exercise that can be called "I am thinking opposite way." Whatever the attitude or key issues of our interlocutor, we ask him to formulate the opposite hypothesis. This moment of stress (and sometimes irritation) helps, first of all, to understand the psychological and conceptual conditioning that holds back the free thought of our interlocutor. By suggesting to him to think the opposite way, we motivate him to analyze, compare and, most importantly, to pronounce a hypothesis that imposes intellectual and existential boundaries on him, instead of simply taking it for granted and unchanging. For, paradoxically, if our interlocutor risks and refutes his own attitudes, he notes that the opposite hypothesis makes much more sense than he originally intended. This exercise allows us to see and experience the liberating power of thought. It calls into question the ideas for which we cling convulsively, allows us to distance ourselves from ourselves and analyze the form and content of our thoughts.
How to get out of your "Platonic cave"
Thanks to a meeting with deep philosophical ideas, we turn to our internal dimension; we can take care of it. Philosophical practice in this sense is the way of self-transformation. The state of transformation does not follow a certain general formula. While our normal state is easy to describe, because it is limited to rigid scheme, our inner life after transformation is free of structures and models. In addition, the state of transformation is also associated with the release of internal energy (calm or passionate). It should also be noted that all philosophers describe the transformed state as very rare and precious; they emphasize that it is very different from our everyday state.
The most vividly philosophical practice as an experience of self-transformation is in Plato's representation in two important texts: in his allegory of the cave from the book "Republic", and in his dialogue "Symposium". At first glance, these two texts are very different; nevertheless, they can be represented as two aspects of the same vision. In the allegory of the cave, a spiritual journey takes us from our cave, from the narrow world of shadows, in other words from our everyday worldview. The "Symposium" has other metaphors. This is a discussion about love. Spiritual transformation of love helps us move from its low level to more sublime forms.
Despite these differences, both texts describe a radical self-transformation, through which we overcome the boundaries of our everyday world. This is not some improvement in what we already have, or adding something new to what we have - it's a complete rebirth. Plato not offers the search for the best cave or more attractive objects of love - it is a transformation that takes us beyond any cave, beyond any creature we like, in fact, beyond all that is usual. It takes us out of our daily life and leads us to horizons that are completely new .
Thus, these two texts - in fact, two views on the same basic journey - a radical self-transformation. However, the purpose of this trip is described very vaguely because its final point cannot be explained from the point of view of everyday things. Nothing in our familiar world sheds light on that new experience or knowledge that awaits us. Plato's spiritual journey takes us to a place in which even fundamental philosophical categories are inapplicable. And this means that in order to get to it, we must lose our world, we must lose our habitual ways of thinking and lose ourselves - or, if you want, we must die, as beings reasoning from the position of our usual categories. We must die in relation to our ideas, to our problems, to our tastes and preferences, and to everything that defines us. And this, indeed, is the most radical transformation possible.
How the skeptical attitude promotes self-knowledge
What do we achieve by taking a skeptical attitude? First, we do not talk nonsense, for which you will then have to blush. Secondly, we do not panic or complain over our ignorance. The first, in the treatment of philosophers, is called retention of judgment (Epoché), and the second is called equanimity (Ataraxia). How to reach the Epoché and never say nonsense?
The French skeptic Michel de Montaigne, as the motto of his philosophy, chose the saying: "What do I know?" The ever-evolving world is split into many fragments and the mind is always "stupid", believing that it is able to cognize something immutable: "Ultimately, there is in general no permanent being, neither in us, nor in the nature of things. And we ourselves with our judgments, and all mortal things are continually flowing somewhere". For example, a breakthrough in the field of natural science appears to him to be nothing more than "sophistical poetry," and in the philosophical tradition he saw "complete anarchy." Human life also manifests itself only in impermanence, unreliability and the constant threat from death. What can it balance? In the opinion of Montaigne, this is precisely the skeptical attitude, which does not lead to depression, but, on the contrary, frees from distortions, raises independence of thinking and a sense of self-confidence. Then your own experience is the best source of knowledge, your own soul is the most suitable subject of study. Observing its depth, a person realizes the inherent nature and at the same time reveals the general form of human nature in general .
We can fiercely argue about what is true, and what is a lie, what is good, and what is evil, etc. But the longer we talk about these things, the more we will become entangled in our own assumptions and conclusions, we will move farther and farther away from the reality, which is comprehended only by silence. According to Friedrich Nietzsche, the greatest events are not our noisiest ones, but our quietest watches. The world not revolves around inventions of new noise, but around the inventions of new values; he rotates silently" . Do not make tragedy from the fact of our ignorance. From the fact that a person eats a lot, he does not get healthier; and "docta ignorance", as a vital position, makes the soul more open and receptive to the truth.
How to organize a philosophical partnership
Let's turn to the advice of the famous practitioner of philosophy Ran Lahav . Philosophical partnership is a group of interlocutors who together reflect on one or another of life's problems, acquiring a meaningful philosophical experience for them, expanding the boundaries of their understanding. Instead of arguing and defending one's own opinion, the interlocutors, abandoning their habitual thinking styles, tend to find a response from each other, like musicians improvising together, creating inspirational music that gives a sense of depth and completeness of meanings. The interlocutors meet on-line or face to face, often "armed" with a philosophical text, and philosophize with the help of the organizer of the conversation.
Philosophical partnership is based on the belief that philosophical reflection is capable of touching and awakening the hidden depths of self-awareness and adding to our lives fullness through mutual understanding between the interlocutors. However, for this to happen, philosophical reflection should be more than just intellectual conversation, more than a declaration of one's own views. Deep levels of self-awareness must be affected against the background of wider horizons of life through a real connection with other people. Therefore, this community avoids impersonal opinions and intellectual clichés borrowed from without, and achieves harmony within the partnership group. This leads the philosophical reflection of the group members beyond their usual boundaries of understanding, develops the ability to listen to someone else's voice (or a member of a group, or one or another philosopher).
The main principles of the philosophical partnership are:
Philosophical experience, i.e. the understanding is based on experience, which is achieved through philosophical reflection on a particular life problem. This understanding is realized not only by our intellect, but it touches us entirely, concerns the deep levels of our being. It changes us in the sense that we at least temporarily change our usual ideas.
Thinking "from scratch", i.e. the interlocutors conduct their discussions not in the context of their usual opinions and convictions, but in a broader context, striving to go beyond the boundaries of their habitual ways of thinking, beyond the boundaries of their "little self".
Mutual understanding, i.e. the interlocutors evaluate themselves by the contribution they make to the general course of the group's philosophical reflection, instead of asserting themselves at the expense of others, pursuing their individual goals. Interlocutors do not argue with each other, do not analyze each other, do not suppress the opinion of another, rather they supplement and enrich the philosophical reflection of each other. Each interlocutor is concerned only with what happens to others, and to the group as a whole.
Resonance of thinking, i.e. the interlocutors strive to join each other's ideas like the musicians improvise together, each on their instrument, striving for harmony, giving the will of improvisation, and thereby creating a rich symphony of ideas. They do not oppose themselves to each other (or philosophical text), they do not isolate their thinking position from others (or from the text) and they do not express themselves from the position of a third person.
Thoughtful reading, i.e. thinking from the text occurs "from scratch" without any prejudice. The focus is on new ideas that can arise in response to certain words in the text or the words of the interlocutor.
The network of ideas, i.e. the attention of the group focuses on several basic ideas that have an essential link among themselves, thereby establishing the key thoughts contained in a particular philosophical text.
Philosophical partnership can be built with reliance on different types of reflection, which can complement each other:
Reflections on the text, i.e. the interlocutors jointly study the philosophical text (or its main idea).
Reflections on life experience, i.e. the interlocutors conduct a conversation about some or other life events, which can give added value to the problem in question or be a good example to it. Listening is an important component of the conversation; self-knowledge is due to an understanding of someone else's life experience.
Reflections on the conclusions, i.e. the interlocutors “listen” to their own thoughts or thoughts of another. They try to understand them in depth and give them an interpretation in the form of logical inferences or poetic metaphors.
On what principles is philosophical counseling based
Let us turn to the advice of the famous philosopher-counselor Gerd Achenbach . Philosophical practice is the kind of help for a people who are tormented by regrets or problems who have questions that they cannot solve or throw back, who cannot cope with life, or who think about themselves, that they have stumbled; who gets along with the prose of his daily life, but lives with a vague feeling that he never rose to the level of his real problems, considering, for example, that his reality does not correspond to his capabilities at all. Practical philosophers come to those people who want not only to live or to understand something, but rather to be aware of their life, to clarify its contours, all its numerous "from where", "why" and "for what" . Quite often their need is to reflect on certain circumstances, specific difficulties and the dual course of their lives. In short, the purpose of their visit to the philosopher-counselor is to understand themselves and be understood. This question almost never sounds like Kant's: "What should I do?", but it is more often formulated, as Montaigne's: "What do I really do?"
Philosophy is not just "applied", for example, by treating the problems of the interlocutor with help of Plato, Hegel or anyone else: the lecture is not a recipe for healing. Does a sick person turn to a doctor to listen to a lecture on medicine? In philosophical practice, no one lectures. The question is whether the philosopher has learned to understand and realize whether he has developed sensitivity in relation to that which is usually not appreciated, and whether he has become able to feel himself at home even when he meets deviating and unusual thoughts.
A question may arise: is not this also what psychologists and psychotherapists aspire to, as well as church trustees? Nowise. The psychological point of view recognizes something special in a special way, first of all, psychogenic, i.e. as trouble, the causes of which are contained in the psyche. A practical philosopher, if to take advantage of the paradox, is a specialist in a non-special, he treats his visitor seriously: he understands not with the help of theories, i.e. schematically, not as "an example confirming a rule", but as a unique human being. A person is not judged in accordance with a certain "measure" (for example, "health"). The question is whether he lives in harmony with himself.
Philosophical practice opposes the main requirement of academic philosophy and is therefore hostile to it . It should focus on the topics, problems and questions that occupy the one who turns to the philosopher, rather than - as is customary for university teachers of philosophy - that is taken from their own repertoire. Philosophy, which begins precisely with what is asked of it, is unlimited, in contrast to the requirements imposed on the sciences. It is not a specialty, not an academic discipline. And the philosopher is not an expert. Consequently, what is a practical philosophy cannot also be determined through an indication of some special "competence". Philosophy, which begins with what others present to it, can be guided by this rule only when it considers each problem as a philosophical problem and evaluates each question philosophically, i.e. as a question that leads to philosophy.
Philosophy is a universal thing, because it includes all knowledge, everything that has been thought out, investigated and learned belonged to it, the whole world of knowledge in all its diversity is based on philosophy. It finds access to everything, because earlier its original element was already present in any knowledge, opinion and even feeling, in the quality of thinking, which Hegel called "spirit" in a very broad sense. As soon as this becomes clear, philosophy can be safely applied to what it faced. But carrying this courage, philosophy achieves success in its very activity, revealing itself in everything else, that is, in thinking, as the moment of universal change and the return to which it joins, and which it expects ahead, like an enzyme, increasing its effectiveness. Only then will philosophy deservedly be called "philosophical practice".