Carmen Zavala

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

For last Saturday participants had voted for the issue: Communism.  We found some quotes from philosophers on the issue to start the reflection. Nevertheless, we were afraid that this would end up in a visceral attack on the former socialist countries by some participants and the unconditional defense of these by the others.

During my absence last weekend, the participants voted for a text against non-religious public education by a Peruvian Socialist, as the issue to be dealt with at the philosophical café this evening. I considered it a challenge to lead this issue towards philosophical reflection.

Contrary to the current "in vogue" tendency in academic philosophy which tends to emphasize that we can only think through language, most approaches of Philosophical Practice focus on our actions and inner reactions rather than on our words. Discourse may often distort or even hide our thoughts. When we are at work as philosophical practitioners in any of its forms, we compare the other's practice/actions with his discourse. It is the actions that reveal the real thoughts of a person, not his discourse.

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.

Because of a family gathering, we had to arrive late at our philosophical café several weeks ago. A philosopher friend was left in charge. The issue of that night was "the truth".

Last evening at the philosophical café we dealt with the issue of time. I decided to change the dynamic in order not to bore the participants, and because I hadn't had time to print some texts. Instead of reading some pieces of texts of philosophers, this time every participant should first ask a question about time and explain then in which sense he was raising that question.

This evening, the issue at the philosophical café was Heidegger and his Black Notebooks. One participant stated with great passion that many of the things Heidegger said were pure nonsense, but that some of his ideas had to be rescued. This idea floated in the air also in other interventions in the form of the question: why would so many philosophers have tried to deny, for such a long time, the obvious fact that he was a Nazi?

The speaker of that evening stated that:

1) insects and fish do not suffer nor feel pain, because they have no consciousness
2) for that reason they do not have any rights as human beings have, who do have consciousness.

The idea of Matrix-thinking was introduced by Plato in his dialogues. For example, when he takes up the issue of virtue in Meno, he is not arguing linearly. He takes into consideration the special character of Meno, a well-known politician of his time, famous for the mercenary army he led for the Persians.

One of the particularities of philosophical practice is that we, as philosophers, do not apply linear thinking, but rather matrix thinking. This means that depending on which step we take at a given moment, the whole scenario might shift to a different stage.

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