Thursday, 26 March 2015 20:00

11. What is the purpose of philosophical counseling?

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When I became interested in philosophical practice and started my journey into this field, the question of the purpose of PP appeared soon as very relevant to me: understanding this purpose could be guiding in the first place those who want to undertake this profession, much more than the wish of helping others to find solutions to everyday life's problems or simply the wish to keep on studying philosophy for one's own sake.

Looking for an answer to this question can be seen as part of a research project on the foundations of philosophical counselling which I am pursuing together with Silvia Schwarz, a colleague of mine. With this project, we endeavour to obtain at least a partial picture of these foundations. Within our project, a questionnaire was submitted to philosophical counsellors.

Reviewing the answers, we found out that for most of the practitioners, the main goal is not to solve a problem or to "heal a soul", but to let a worldview emerge and let it become clear to the counselee and then, through the tools of philosophy, try to "enrich our lives, broaden our horizons" (Ran Lahav).

The practitioners who filled out the questionnaire provided various answers when asked about the purpose of their work: some would like to raise or construct the philosophical awareness of the counselee (Manos Perrakis, Peter Harteloh), another wishes to foster freedom - understood as a way to strengthen our capacity to self-orientation in life - and to deepen the knowledge of the basis of our traditions (Detlef Staude), another again to achieve Socrates' "know thyself" and practice self-development (Michael Noah Weiss).

Somehow, all those answers point to the research and even the questioning of the basic ideas and beliefs which guide our life, trying to look deeply into the structure of our thoughts, find the existing gaps and broaden our view. I think these results may also lead to attempt to answer another question about the nature of philosophical practice: Is philosophical counseling philosophy, or is it something else?


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Federica Beneventi

I am an Italian philosophical practitioner based in Modena. I graduated in Philosophy at the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, with a thesis on the connection between the concept of free will and new discoveries in neuroscience. After completing my degree, I started a Master's degree in Philosophical Counselling at Ca' Foscari – University of Venice, which I am presently concluding.

As a philosophical practitioner, I organize philosophical cafés in my hometown, and philosophical workshops in schools, as well as with volunteers of the hospital organization "Librarsi" in Sassuolo.