18 Aug 2015

4. Philosophizing in companionship

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Reflecting about relevant issues from a philosophical perspective is something that most of us love to do alone in the peace and silence of our own company. At the same time it is evident to us that the more we keep reflecting and arguing mainly with ourselves, the less accurate, broad and/or relevant the result of our research will be. We need the nurturing voice and the eyes of philosophical companions to keep our reflections connected to reality and to keep updated about its accuracy at all its stages.

Traditionally this need is being addressed with our colleagues at university by writing papers against each other or defending our positions in public debates.

In the philosophical companionship sessions that we have started some months ago, we approach this need in a different way.
An issue for discussion and some kind of exercises to organize and focus the reflection are proposed.

One participant says something that I might think is unrelated, missing the point or even logically wrong. My natural learned impulse is to point out what is "wrong". But a second thought pushes me to repress this urge and keep listening instead. My comments would not lead to anything anyway. Experience shows that the others do not change their position or admit a fault just because good arguments are given to them to do so. Instead, human beings tend to try to defend themselves (even though there is no attack taking place) or even attack the other ones while being criticized. So my comments would only make us lose time on a debate, that most probably would be very much unrelated to the topic we gathered to think about.

Instead, I continue listening and some interesting thought might arise, some aspect I did not think about in relation to this topic. This also brings me down to reality: many people actually see things from a different perspective than one does oneself. As a philosopher, I feel I want to address these other world-visions somehow and get inspired by some insight that may result from them.

In this sense the philosophical companionship is a philosophical practice that does not mainly aim at helping or counseling others, but that is mainly directed at improving our own thinking by richening and polishing it through the presence and the voices of the others.

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Carmen Zavala

I am  a philosophical practitioner with a PhD in Philosophy by the National University of San Marcos . Since 1998 I co-organize a philosophical café in Lima every Saturday evening. I also organize philosophical workshops, retreats, and individual counseling sessions. Together with Ran Lahav I adminstrate the Agora Webpage  since 2014. My personal website is www.zavala.de/carmen