Tuesday, 11 August 2015 20:00

2. What's new in philosophical companionships?

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Did you ever dream of traveling to the fourth century B.C., entering the Agora and ending up bumping into a philosophical dialogue?

Did you ever, after your workout, with all that dopamine energizing you, feel the need for a walk in the fresh air with intelligent company? And then thought how lucky those Peripatetics were....

Did you ever, while reading a book from one of your favorite philosophers, desire to talk to him, ask him a question, and receive an answer?

Did you ever feel sucked dry, disappointed, and unhappy with all that fencing with concepts in the academy?

Did you ever, while your friends tell you about their problems with their children, their boss or their partners, ask yourself the question: is that all there is to friendship?

If you did answer "yes" to one of these questions, we have good news: 21st century AGORA is available right now! There you will find the "Philosophical Companionships"—a place for shared philosophical experience that so many of us are missing!

No, no, no... this is not group therapy, or coaching or any other of that New Age stuff! This is philosophy! Why, you ask? Because of these three main elements:

- Our discourse relates to general, fundamental issues of existence.
- We are critical, meaning we ask questions, we share doubts, etc.

- We are dialogical: we get into a dialogue with others who are present, but also with past thinkers by means of thinking together on the basis of a philosophical text.

"So far, so good," you say, "but it does not seem to be that different, or that new..."

What makes Philosophical Companionships a really new way of doing philosophical practice?

1. Format – Companions have a symmetric relation, as opposed to philosophical counseling or philosophical cafés where there is always a hierarchical relation between the philosopher and the counselee, or the philosopher and the cafe-philo participants. In companionships the facilitator is only primus inter pares.

2. Togetherness – Companions see themselves as sharing a common endeavor, as participants in the same reflection, instead of asserting themselves as isolated individuals with separate goals. They do not argue with each other, or analyze each other, or assert themselves over others, but rather compliment and enrich each other's reflection. Each individual is therefore concerned with what is happening to the others, and to the group as a whole (Lahav 2015).

3. Experience – Companions search for a meaningful experiential understanding, which is achieved by means of a philosophical reflection on a basic life-issue. This understanding is not limited to our intellect, but touches us as a whole, and the deeper parts of our being. It is transformational, in the sense that it changes our state of mind, at least temporarily (Lahav, 2015).

I guess, the only question remaining is: when do you start?















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Maria Joao Neves

I am a portuguese philosophical practitioner having established my practice in Tavira (Algarve, Portugal) in 2006 and published a book on my methodology, Método RVP© - Prática Filosófica no Quotidiano (The RVP Method - Poetical Ratiovitalism: Philosophical Practice in Ordinary Life), in 2009. Phenomenology of dreams is a particularly important part of the RVP Method.

I currently work as a post-doctoral scholar at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL), where under a grant from the Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal I do research on musical aesthetics. I received my Ph.D. in Contemporary Philosophy from UNL in 2002 with a dissertation on María Zambrano. As a professor, I lecture mainly on Ethics and Aesthetics.

I began piano studies at the age of four, singing and dancing instruction following slightly later. I completed my training as a vinyasa flow yoga instructor in 2011. While not pursued professionally, these activities were never abandoned because it is impossible to leave what nourishes the soul.

I contribute regularly to indexed scientific journals, please see my page at:


Philosophical Practice blog at: http://cfilosofico.blogspot.pt

Contact: filosofiamjn@gmail.com