The Philosophy Café
This month's topic:
Should Philosophers be Therapists?
September 19, 2012
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
The Philosophy Café at Harvard Book Store is a monthly gathering meant for the informal, relaxed, philosophical discussion of topics of mutual interest to participants. No particular expertise is required to participate, only a desire to explore philosophy and its real-world applications. More information can be found at www.philocafe.org.
The Philosophy Café is held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 in the Used Book department on the lower level of Harvard Book Store.
Join us at the September 19th Philosophy Café for a debate over whether Philosophers should be Therapists.
It is commonly asserted that a rational approach is the best when addressing life’s problems. If that is the case, why shouldn’t philosophers, rather than psychotherapists be the resource of choice for individuals facing complex psychological issues, at least when there is no mental illness present? After all, if philosophers are expert in anything, isn’t it in identifying rational approaches to problems? In fact, some philosophers have offered their counseling services to the general public. Professional associations (such as the American Philosophical Practitioners’ Association) have been set up to regulate philosophical counseling. (Actual clients of philosophical counselors include a man, who found it difficult to forgive his wife for infidelity, and another man who refused to process his feelings in the way that psychotherapists urged.) Unsurprisingly, this development has been met with skepticism and sometimes even outrage from traditional psychotherapists. At September’s Philosophy Café, we will examine some of the philosophical questions raised by Philosophical Counseling or Therapy.
Both Philosophical Counseling and psychotherapy (in its various forms) seek to help clients address seemingly intractable problems. But they seem to understand these problems in different ways. Arguably, when philosophers consider life problems, it tends to be in an ethical vein, while when psychotherapists do the same, they invoke seemingly morally neutral quasi-medical terms. (Whether there is a hidden ethics to therapeutic discourse, and how valid it is will be a subject of discussion.)
Does philosophy bring psychological peace? Or does it, as Wittgenstein suggested, mean tarrying with madness?
Arguably, the first documented philosophical counselor was Socrates. His community did not appreciate his efforts, claiming that his philosophical activities corrupted Athenian youth and undermined Athenian democracy. We shall examine Socrates’s defense against what was, arguably the first malpractice suit against Philosophical Counseling.
Are people really rational at root? If not, might it not be barking up the wrong tree to address human problems through rational discourse?
- Philosophy Professor, Kate Mehuron, discusses her work as a Philosophical Counselor.
- Lisa Bortolotti reviews Philosophy and Psychotherapy by Edwin Erwin.
- Julia Galeff starts off blog debate on Philosophical Counseling.
- Socrates defends himself in court.
- Wikipedia summary of The Clouds by Aristophanes; the play that Socrates believed stirred up hatred against him.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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