23 Mar 2015

6. Not without a method

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The problem of the "methods in philosophical practice", raised by Leon De Haas is certainly a crucial issue. De Haas, in agreement with Achenbach, states that philosophical practice should not have a method, by which he understands a way to reach a pre-conceived goal; conversely, in the guest's quest of sense in her/his life, the method should be invented while making one's way.

Detlef Staude argues that, even if in the past the claim of "no method" had the purpose to differentiate philosophical practice from psychotherapy, the diverse understandings and ways presently existing within philosophical practice de facto refer to different methods.

Together with a colleague of mine (Federica Beneventi), I recently submitted for a research project a questionnaire to several philosophical practitioners; the questionnaire, which touched several issues concerning their theoretical and practical orientations, included in particular the question: "Which is your method in your work of philosophical practice/counselling?".

Although different practitioners may follow different methods, all of them, as a matter of fact, do employ some type of technique in their practice. Among those who use some sort of dialogue, Staude uses a meta-dialogue aiming at widening people's perspective in order to help them to find an orientation in their life; Michael Noah Weiss, who works mainly with groups, uses the Socratic Dialogue, and also of the so-called Trilogos method in leading Philo Cafés and guided imageries. On the other hand, also on account of his medical background, Peter Harteloh calls his method "clinical", by which he means: reworking a question into a philosophical question, identifying a philosophical content/diagnosis, reworking the philosophical content in order to come to a conclusion and find a metaphor suiting the life of the counselee. Manos Perrakis underscores the necessity of various methods and techniques in philosophical practice, provided that the different possible approaches may be adapted to the needs of the counselee.

One can hence conclude that within nowadays' philosophical practice there is a broad spectrum of methods of working, yet, the necessity to establish a solid methodological basis in dealing with the problems raised by the counselees is generally acknowledged.

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Silvia Schwarz

I am a scholar in Indology. My main interests lie in the Tantric religious traditions of medieval India. In addition to publishing a book and articles on these topics, I have also produced translations for the general reader of texts from the Sanskrit narrative and devotional literature. I obtained a PhD in South Asian Studies from the University of Vienna.

I am interested in philosophical practice and I am presently concluding a Masters degree in Philosophical Counselling at Ca' Foscari, the University of Venice."