Peter Harteloh

Peter Harteloh

I am Peter Harteloh, born on July 5, 1960 in The Hague. I studied medicine (graduation at Erasmus University as MD: 1987) and philosophy (MA at University Utrecht: 1996). I received additional trainings in occupational medicine, psychotherapy and philosophical counselling. I wrote a PhD thesis on quality management in which I explored the philosophical origins of the quality concept and its social application in quality management (2000). Since 2007, I work as a Philosophical Practitioner in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

In my practice, I offer individual consultations, Socratic group dialogue, courses on lifestyle management and philosophical walks. My main sources of inspiration are Pierre Hadot (philosophy as a way of life) who provides a theory for my philosophical practice, and Oscar Brenifier who offers an example of a radical Socratic way of doing consultations. My style can be called clinical, after the "klinikos" (Gr.) who went out to meet the patient in his or her own natural environment in order to understand. In my consultations, I combine a Socratic style of questioning with a phenomenology of understanding against the background of an eternal cycle of Wisdom as expressed in Western or Eastern philosophy.

Since 2011, I am a lecturer in philosophical counselling at the school for higher education of Utrecht. My research is on dialogue, silence and the relationship between concepts and place (topology). I conducted lectures and/or master classes on philosophical practice in Italy (2008, 2010), France (2009, 2012, 2014), Japan (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Thailand (2009, 2013), Tai Wan (2009), Cambodia (2012, 2013), Korea (2012, 2014), China (2013), Sweden (2013), Greece/Athens (2013) and Serbia (2014). I was the secretary (2007-2010) and president (2010-2012) of the Dutch Association for Philosophical Practice.

In the discussion on philosophical practice, the emphasis is often on "philosophical". However, I would like to start a discussion on "practice". What is a practice?

Often clients say that my approach differs from the approaches of others which they have experienced, and they call it philosophical. In evaluation they bring in three things:

When conducting my first philosophical consultations in 2007, after being a psychotherapist for some years, I was struck by the free space of the dialogue in which persons could appear in a totally unexpected, uncontrolled, authentic way. I had to position myself in this space, meeting the client as a philosopher.


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