12 Mar 2015

6. Love in Philosophical Counseling

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The complex dynamics of a relationship in a couple is probably one of the most recurring issues brought up by a guest in a philosophical counselling. So, it is quite frequent to deal with the question: What is love? How can it be detected? How does it start? How does it finish?…

However, as a philosopher I find it difficult to give a credible answer, considering the complexity of an existential event which on the one hand involves feelings, physical sensations and organic chemistry all together and, on the other hand, calls upon reason, evaluation, choice (more or less explicitly, with a variable degree of awareness).

On the physical sensation side – the obscure, pre-verbal, mysterious side – as philosophical practitioners we don’t have much to say. On the contrary, we have a lot to say about another aspect of love, less mysterious, but much more practical. It is indeed obvious that what we call love, whatever it is, translates into actions, gestures, contacts or refusals, openings or closings, relationships or rejections. In this sense, love is a whole scenario of gestures, dialogues, actions, choices where each of us is an actor fully aware of playing a role, of which he is co-author with the other, while trying to follow a thick net of social rules. On such a stage, a philosopher is able to recognize the game of the characters: sometimes the tuning between them is such that love blooms, sometimes the gap between reality and imagination is so deep that the characters on the scene can no longer understand each other, and love comes to an end.

In a philosophical counselling we work on the coherence between the characters and the people that play them.

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Stefano Zampieri

I am a philosophical practitioner and counselor with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Venice. I was president of Phronesis – Italian Association for philosophical counseling, and I am now a trainer at the training school for philosophical counselors of Phronesis. As a researcher I studied at length issues related to the philosophy of the Holocaust, and I have published several papers about philosophical counseling, particularly the first Italian handbook of philosophical counseling, Manuale della consulenza filosofica (2013). I founded “Zona Filosofica” in Venice, an original space for sharing philosophical reflection on the themes of existence.