Arto Tukiainen

Arto Tukiainen

I am a philosophical practitioner living in Finland, where I received my doctoral degree from the Department of Practical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki in 1999. My interest in the contemporary field of philosophical practice developed out of a need for philosophical orientation in my own life. You can read my essays at www.artotukiainen.net. Many of them have also been published in journals such as Philosophical Practice, Practical Philosophy and International Journal on Philosophical Practice.

Philosophical counselors have methods such as questioning background assumptions, examining concepts, clarifying the counselee's thoughts, trying to see familiar situations in a new light, opening up novel ways to understand the counselee's wishes and fears, interpreting dreams, eliciting and fostering the counselee's character strengths, encouraging the counselee in her decisions, urging the counselee to look at things from a detached, objective perspective, and so on. Here 'method' means a way of doing things, or a way of proceeding.

Many philosophers have said that a meaningful life requires goals and an effort to reach them. But what if our aims are disharmonious, contradictory, conflicting? What if we don't know what we really want, and cannot decide how to proceed? What if we are confused and divided within, at odds with ourselves, our own enemies? What if we suffer from incoherence, internal battle and remorse instead of being able to accept and love ourselves?

Modern philosophical practice has usually been understood as interpersonal discursive activity. But philosophy also has a non-social, or even private, aspect. Just as religion is not merely work with others but a serious, sustained effort to deepen and broaden one's own faith, and monasteries are not just scenes of social intercourse but environments for carving, crystallizing and saving one's self, we should see philosophy not only as talk but as reflection on one's own spiritual condition and as determination to be what one ought to be.

I often have lucid dreams. Dreams are called lucid when the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming. He is separate from the dream events, sometimes even from the person he is in the dream. Usually we do not realize we are dreaming, and identify ourselves with our dream-self: we ARE the one to whom various kinds of things happen, who perceives, acts and so on.

The horizontal plane of life is one of desires and aversions, aims and actions. It is thirst and fever in growth, maturation and decay. A central prerequisite for finding one's way and reaching one's goals is being unified enough as a self to be able to act coherently and forcefully.


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