QA 60. None the wiser (On the obligation and cultivation of wisdom)

Last week, I had the pleasure of addressing a conference of family mediators in Cape Town on the topic of “Wisdom in mediation”. Two stories First story. An ethics professor once said to an undergraduate philosophy class, “If you believe that a professor of ethics is an ethical person, you are making a category mistake.”…

equivocation, ambivalence

These “mixed feelings” of yours. If you have no reason to feel the way you do, and yet you do, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no reason (you are irrational), or that you’re wrong to feel that way (you are mistaken), or that you should feel otherwise (you are dissolute). But it might. It’s worth investigating….

QA 58. “But it doesn’t work like that!”

Annals of philosophical counselling/practice with others “But it doesn’t work like that!” I say this in response to some proposed scheme or strategy of yours. I mean that, in terms of what you want to achieve, what you are doing seems either futile or malicious because you have a mistaken view about what’s going on….

QA 56. Four touchstones for thinking about peace

For Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and because I’m reading Thula Simpson’s Umkhonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle, thinking about and respecting the lives of everyone who stood against apartheid, those whose names are known or unknown, remembered or forgotten. Thinking that the aim of the struggle was peace, and how we’re not there yet. Thinking…

QA 55. Tenebrae

Tenebrae (L. darkness) is the only Christian service I ever trusted. It’s made up of psalms of grief and lamentations of the lost and forsaken. The evening of Holy Saturday. The messiah is crucified, god has abandoned his people to their enemies. Why God? There are no signs for us to see; there is no prophet…

QA 50! Thoughts at sea

A funny thing happened at the Philosophy Café last month. I got lost. We all set sail on a conversation about “sadness”, but I didn’t know what they were talking about. My mind was clear and present. I just couldn’t relate, couldn’t get a grip, couldn’t participate. And the good ship “we” sailed on without me….

QA 47. Motion of confidence (Part 2)

Last week’s philosophy café offered another conversation about confidence. As noted before, confidence has two levels. One is conditional: the conscious trust in one’s abilities or worth, developed through experience and familiarity (“or entitlement”, as someone pointed out, referring to the social confidence of private-school girls). The other is what John Dewey described as “unconscious…

QA 46. Motion of confidence (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking about confidence and security: how they are related, how they operate within intimate relationships, how we get it wrong and how we could do better. “Getting it wrong” is when one person’s insecurity undermines the other’s confidence, or one’s confidence reinforces the other’s insecurity, or any other twist of neediness, dependence and…

QA 44. Thinking about dignity

dig ni ty [L. dignus ‘worthy’] n. the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect “Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources, by doing things with your own bare hands – on the spot, properly and beautifully. You can do that even in the worst of the worst situations, you can still make your life elegant.” Chögyam…

QA 43. The meaning of transgression

But the poet’s task, Kafka says, is to lead the isolated human being into the infinite life, the contingent into the lawful. ~ Anne Carson The contingent: what sommer happens to be and could just as well be otherwise. South Africans drive on the left side, Canadians on the right. Some people wear black for…