Monday, 12 January 2015 19:00

1. No Method

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Gert Achenbach’s dictum, “Philosophical Practice does not have a method”, has its friends and its enemies. I am a friend.

It is my thesis, that, since Husserl’s and Wittgenstein’s phenomenological and linguistic interventions in Modern philosophy, professional philosophers cannot use any jargon, expert knowledge, or method whatsoever.

So, philosophical counseling is not about diagnosis and treatment. The guest in the philosophical practice might be willing to understand his life, and to change his way of coping with it, - but the philosopher, as a philosopher, is not. He or she just gives one’s heart to this guest, unconditionally paying all attention to this other human being, wandering with this person in the landscapes of his or her experiences.

Of value is not some method, it is the special quality of this encounter, the quality of the “aimless” conversation. If there is something like “philosophical competence”, it is the power to give up any conceptual grip on the situation, and to tempt the guest to do the same and to dare to be fully alive for his or her own experiences.

A method only would disturb the encounter, and lead away from the guest’s insight into his or her experiences. Any methodical, diagnostic, and change oriented attitude in philosophical practice is just “old school” philosophy, or an imitation of psychotherapy.

 

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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.