09 Feb 2015

4. Methods determine the road

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Many of those who write about methods in philosophical practice refer to the ancient Greek 'methodos'. As the contraction of meta and ´odos indicates, it would just mean that we follow a specific road. We cannot deny that, metaphorically speaking, we follow a road in philosophy practice. So, that's not the issue.

The discussion about methods is about the question to what extent the philosophical practitioner is prescribing and determining the guest's own 'road'. Does the practitioner set a goal for the guest, and a determined route for the guest? If so, the guest has to follow the predetermined road.

Another possibility is, however, that there is no such predetermined road, but that the guest and the philosophical host set out for wandering in the guest's life stories, i.e. experiences. Together they find out the guest's way, explore what they stumble upon, reflect on the findings and on the trail that is coming about. Here, the road is a track of the guest's search, not the predetermined railway lines towards a preconceived solution. Here, the method is being invented while making one's way.

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Leon de Haas

I practice philosophy as a counselor and trainer in the Netherlands and Germany. I am a board member of the German professional organization of philosophical practitioners (BV-PP, daughter organization of the IGPP). I am currently doing research on the consequences of Wittgenstein's later philosophy for philosophical practice.